“I was sitting alone in the twilight,
With spirit troubled and vexed,
With thoughts that were morbid and gloomy,
And faith that was sadly perplexed.
“Some homely work I was doing
For the child of my love and care;
Some stitches half wearily setting
In the endless need of repair.
“But my thoughts were about the building,
The work some day to be tried,
And that only the gold and the silver,
And the precious stones should abide.
“And remembering my own poor efforts,
The wretched work I had done,
And even when trying most truly,
The meager success I had won:
“‘It is nothing but wood, hay and stubble,’
I said; ‘it will all be burned;
This useless fruit of the talents
One day to be returned;
“‘And I have so longed to serve Him,
And sometimes I know I have tried;
But I’m sure when He sees such building,
He will never let it abide.’
“Just then as I turned the garment,
That no rent should be left behind,
Mine eye caught an odd little bungle
Of mending and patchwork combined.
“My heart grew suddenly tender,
And something blinded mine eyes
With one of those sweet inspirations,
That sometimes make us so wise.
“Dear child! she wanted to help me,
I knew ’twas the best she could do;
But oh! what a botch she had made of it,
The gray mismatching the blue!
“And yet, can you understand it?
With a tender smile and a tear,
And a half compassionate yearning,
I feel her grow more dear.
“Then a sweet voice broke the silence,
And the dear Lord said to me,
‘Art thou tenderer for thy little child
Than I am tender for thee?’
“Then straightway I knew His meaning,
So full of compassion and love;
And my faith came back to its refuge,
Like the glad returning dove.
“So, I thought, when the Master Builder
Comes down this temple to view,
To see what rents must be mended,
And what must be builded anew;
“Perhaps as He looks o’er the building
He will bring my work to the light;
And seeing the marring and bungling,
And how far it is all from right;
“He will feel as I felt for my darling,
And will say as I said for her,
‘Dear child! she wanted to help me,
And love for Me was the spur;
“‘And for the great love that is in it
The work shall seem perfect as Mine;’
And, because it was willing service,
Will crown it with plaudit Divine.
“And there, in the deepening twilight,
I seemed to be clasping a Hand,
And to feel a great love constraining,
Far stronger than any command.
“Then I knew by the thrill of sweetness,
‘Twas the Hand of the Blessed One
Which should tenderly guide and hold me,
Till all the labor is done.
“So my thoughts are never more gloomy,
My faith is no longer dim,
But my heart is strong and restful,
And mine eyes are unto Him.”
from ‘The Spirit-Filled Life’ by John MacNeil (Chapter 11)