The Kerry Boy and the Lost Sheep
ONE evening at the close of a cold February day in Kerry, Ireland, there was a knock at the door. A poor man wished to see me. I had never seen him before, and he introduced himself, asking pardon for coming at such a late hour, but he had one son, and he feared the boy was dying.
I rose immediately, and followed him. The cabin was perched on the mountainside, and so isolated that I could scarcely feel surprised at not having discovered it before.
We entered the miserable hovel. An old woman rose as I entered, and with the natural courtesy of the Irish poor offered me a low chair. In one corner of the hut, on a cot lay the boy. He was about seventeen years of age and was dying of tuberculosis. I told him as quietly as possible why I had come, and put a few simple questions to him as to his hope of salvation, and the eternal world to which it was evident he was fast approaching. He appeared totally unconscious of my meaning, but I discovered from a few words he uttered that he had heard something of God and future judgment, but he had never been taught to read. The Holy Scripture was a sealed book; he was altogether ignorant of the way of salvation, and his mind on this all important subject was an utter blank.
I was struck with dismay, and almost with despair. Here was a soul on the verge of eternity, and in utter darkness. What was I to do? I raised my heart to God for guidance and instruction to put the way of salvation clearly before him, and then I said: “My poor boy, I feel you are very ill”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Have you had this cough very long?”
“A long time – nearly a year.”
“How did you catch it? A Kerry boy should be used to cold air.”
“Ah,” he answered, “so I was till that terrible night nearly a year ago when one of the sheep went astray, and my father sent me to search for it. The snow lay thick upon the ground, and the cold wind pierced me through and through but I didn’t mind it much, as I was anxious to find father’s sheep.”
“And did you find it?” I asked, with increasing interest.
“Oh, yes! I never stopped till I did.”
“And how did you get it home?”
“I just laid it on my shoulders and carried it home.”
“And were they not all rejoiced to see you?”
“Sure enough, and that they were – father, mother, the neighbors and all.”
Wonderful! I thought. Here is the whole gospel story. The sheep is lost. The father sends his son to seek it. The son goes, seeks, suffers, finds, lays the lost sheep on his shoulders, brings it home, and rejoices over it with friends and neighbors.
I opened my Bible and read to the dying lad four verses in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. He at once saw the likeness and followed me with deep interest while I explained to him the meaning of the parable. The Lord graciously opened his heart to receive the things spoken: he understood, he believed, and he accepted Christ as his Saviour. I never saw a clearer proof of the power of the divine Spirit to apply the Word of God. He lived but a few days, and died peacefully, with the words, “Jesus, my Saviour and my Shepherd,” on his lips.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” Luke 19:10. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”John 3:16. Jesus said: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” John 6:37.