1 Matchless Pearl

HEAVY splash was followed  by many ripples and then the water below the pier was still. An American missionary crouched on the low Indian pier, his eyes riveted on the place where a stream of little bubbles rose to the surface from deep under the water. Suddenly a black head appeared and a pair of bright eyes looked up. Then the old Indian pearl diver was clambering onto the dock, grinning and shaking the water from his shining oiled body.

"As nice a dive as I've ever seen, Rambhau!" cried David Morse, the missionary.

"Look at this one, Sahib," said Rambhau, taking a big oyster from between his teeth. "I think it'll be good."

Morse took it and while he was prying it open with his pocket knife Rambhau was pulling other small oysters from his loincloth. "Rambhau! Look!" exclaimed Morse, "Why, it's a treasure!"

"Yes, a good one," shrugged the diver.

"Good! Have you ever seen a better pearl? It's perfect, isn't it!" Morse had been turning the big pearl over and over and then handed it to the Indian.

"Oh, yes, there are better pearls, much better. Why, I have one-" his voice trailed off. "See this one-the imperfections-the black specks here, this tiny dent; even in shape it is a bit oblong, but good as pearls go. It is just as you say of your God. To themselves people look perfect, but God sees them as they actually are." The two men started up the dusty road to town.

"You're right, Rambhau. And God offers a perfect righteousness to all who will simply believe and accept His free offer of salvation through His Beloved Son."

"But, Sahib, as so many times before I have told you, it's too easy. I cannot accept that. Perhaps I am too proud. I must work for my place in heaven."

"Oh, Rambhau! Don't you see, you'll never get to heaven that way. There's only one way to heaven. And see, Rambhau, you are getting older now. Perhaps this is your last season of diving for pearls. 

Matchless Pearl 2

If you ever want to see heaven's gates of pearl, you must accept the new life God offers you in His Son."

"My last season! Yes, you are right. Today was my last day of diving. This is the last month of the year; and I have preparations to make."

"You should prepare for the life to come."

"That's just what I'm going to do. Do you see that man over there? He is a pilgrim, perhaps to Bombay or Calcutta. He walks barefooted and picks the sharpest stones and see-every few rods he kneels down and kisses the road. That is good. The first day of the New Year I begin my pilgrimage. All my life I have planned it I shall make sure of heaven this time. I am going to Delhi on my knees."

"Man! You're crazy! It's more than fourteen hundred miles to Delhi! The skin will break on your knees, and you'll have blood poisoning or leprosy before you get to Bombay."

"No, I must get to Delhi. And then the immortals will reward me. The suffering will be sweet, for it will purchase heaven for me."

"Rambhau! My friend! You can't! How can I let you do this when Jesus Christ has died to purchase heaven for you?" But the old man could not be moved.

"You are my dearest friend on earth, Sahib Morse. Through all these years you have stood beside me. In sickness and want you have been sometimes my only friend. But even you cannot turn me from this great desire to purchase eternal bliss. I must go to Delhi." It was useless. The old pearl diver could not understand, could not accept the free salvation of Christ.

One afternoon Morse answered a knock at the door to find Rambhau there. "My good friend!" cried Morse. "Come in, Rambhau."

"No," said the pearl diver, "I want you to come with me to my house, Sahib, for a short time. I have something to show you. Please do not say, 'No.' "

The heart of the missionary leaped. Perhaps God was answering prayer at last. "Of course, I'll come," he said.

"I leave for Delhi just one week from today, you know," said Rambhau as they neared his house ten minutes later. The missionary's heart sank. Morse was seated on the chair his friend had built especially for him, where many times he had sat explaining to the diver God's way to heaven.