Torn in half

TORN IN HALF - a true story

Years ago a travelling book-seller greeted a woman in a forest cottage in France and offered a New Testament for sale. Jeanne hesitated. Would the priest approve? That was the question. Still she wistfully eyed the neat little volume, and at last, producing 50 centimes, she took the book and said, "I cannot refuse, monsieur, but may I be pardoned if it is a sin."

Presently in came Jacques, the charcoal burner, her husband, and Jeanne timidly produced her book. As she rather feared, he was tired and cross and criticised her for spending his money in this fashion.

"But," said she, "the money is not all yours, Jacques. I brought my dowry when we married. The half franc was as much mine as yours."

"Give me the book," shouted Jacques in a temper. He snatched it from her hands.

"The money was half yours, and half mine, you say. Very well, the book is the same." He opened the book roughly, tore it in two pieces, keeping one and throwing the other to Jeanne.

Several days later Jacques sat in the forest and suddenly remembered the torn book. He would investigate it.

It was the latter part of the New Testament. His rough fingers had divided it in Luke's Gospel. He began at the very beginning .....

"And will say unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."

Spellbound, he read to the end of the story, and then a dozen questions presented themselves. What had he done — the poor lost son? Why was he exiled? Where had he been? What made him come back? The questions haunted him, but at first his pride prevented him asking for the first part of the book. Meanwhile Jeanne lived her monotonous days, occasionally poring over her part and spelling out its contents. She began to get interested in it, but when she reached the end her interest was doubly quickened. That younger son — his waywardness, his journey, his sin, his misery, the wonderful change in his thoughts. "I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father ......" There the story stopped.

But what happened? Did the father welcome him? Her tender heart longed for a satisfactory answer. She even cried over the story, but she could not screw up her courage to consult Jacques.

One day, however, the rain poured down with special vigour, and Jacques came home feeling specially weary. He ate his soup and bread for supper as usual, and at last he blurted out, "Jeanne, you remember the book I tore in two? My part had in it a wonderful story, but only the end of it. I cannot rest until I know the beginning of it. Bring me your piece."

"Oh Jacques! The same story is always in my mind, only I lack the ending. Did the father receive that wilful son?" He did. But what was the sin that separated them?"

She brought her piece and knelt by his chair. Together they read the whole of the beautiful parable. The Spirit of God who had been working in both of their hearts caused its hidden meaning to dawn on them.

That was the first of many Bible readings by the firelight after the soup and bread were eaten. Both yielded their hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Has the parable of the prodigal son ever raised in your mind the question that it did in theirs, and have you seen its application to yourself?

What had he done? was the question raised by the ending of the story. He had sinned, and we should all admit that we have, too. Then comes the question, Did the father receive that wilful son? He did, for "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him." He did much more, but for details you must turn to Luke 15 and read for yourself. If you turn to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, confessing yourself a sinner and pleading the merits of His atoning sacrifice, you will get just such a gracious reception. But you must turn to God and experience it for yourself.

All who want to go to heaven to be with God "Must be Born Again", as Jesus said (John 3 vs.3-8) Jesus talked about heaven, and he said, "In my Father's House are many mansions," also He said "I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me". (John 14 vs.2,6). This is the Gospel.

If Jesus is right (and He most certainly is), then all other ways are wrong! Religion cannot save you, only Jesus can. God did not create the religions of the world; but man did — to satisfy his conscience. Man is "forever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:7)

Do you know the one who died on the cross for you? Jesus said, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Jesus said that He is the only way to God the Father, and the new birth is the only way to heaven. What did He mean? He meant a spiritual birth whereby a person confesses his sins to Jesus Christ and accepts Him as Saviour. This is not religion. It is life.

MAY THIS PRAYER HELP YOU TO BECOME A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN:

Say this prayer sincerely from the bottom of your heart:

"Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you died for me. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Please come into my life and forgive my sins. And save me. Amen."