While I was in hospital for the 3rd procedure of my huge Kidney Stone removal operation, an elderly man came into my room and started asking me about my faith. He gave me this story and said that it made a deep impact on his life. He left, I read it and now I am posting it for everyone else who may be impacted by this story.
Years ago I read a story that made a deep impression on me and I also want to tell it to you.
Willy was a young boy of fourteen years old. His father had been killed in the war and his mother was a weak, sickly woman who died of her heart as a result of the shock when she heard of her husband's death.
Willy stayed behind alone and he did not know where to go. One of the chief officers in the Army was a friend of the family and he invited Willy to join his regiment. Willy's job was to make shine the buttons of the officer's uniforms and polish the shoes. In the band he also was the drum player.
In spite of the fact that Willy was still a young boy, he had already made a decision to be an honest Christian. He slept in a tent with three other soldiers. They were very careless and swore and drank a lot, especially one of the three named Jim. Willy felt very sorry for him and often talked nicely to him when he had sworn so much. Usually Jim laughed at him and sometimes gave him a slap.
Next time Willy tried again to let his light shine, but Jim accepted nothing. "Imagine that I should believe such a silly story that someone died for me on the cross" and ha-ha-ha Jim laughed. That night someone caused a lot of damage in the camp.
The next morning the soldiers had to appear before the Chief Officer. "Are you guilty?" the chief officer asked everyone. One after the other answered "no" and passed. At last it was Jim's turn. Willy knew that Jim was the guilty one, and wondered what he was going to do. "Are you guilty?" the chief officer asked and Jim answered: "No Sir, I know nothing of the whole business!"
Willy was surprised that someone could tell such a lie, but he kept quiet. Thin and pale he stood there and looked at everything. He was a very weak and sickly young boy. The Chief Officer was desperate: " Nobody admits, who will step forward to be punished?" he asked. All was silent. Again he tried: "If somebody does not come now to get punished, I'm going to punish everyone."
Suddenly Willy got an idea: Jim has never wanted to believe that Jesus Christ bore the punishment of his sins on the cross. Today he has the opportunity to show Jim a slight picture thereof. Quickly he stepped forward and stood right in front of the Chief Officer.
"And what do you want?" asked the chief officer. "Sir" said the thin boy, "I come to bear the punishment."
"But Willy," the chief officer said quite embarrassed, "I'm sure that you are not guilty! You are indeed an example of faithfulness and honesty to all of us."
"Yes Sir, but that doesn't matter now," said Willy. "You have just said that if somebody does not come to bear the punishment, then you are going to punish everyone, and now I have come to bear it, then everybody else is free!"
"But Willy.....," and the Chief Officer still wanted to argue but Willy was already taking off his big jacket, one he had received from one of the Soldiers to keep him warm. He stood there with his naked back; he did not even own a shirt.
"No Willy" (the chief officer told the story himself and said he hadn't been in such big trouble before) but Willy just said: "I'm ready, the others can go free!" The person that usually gave the punishment stepped forward with his cruel cane. Now everything was deathly still and tense. The soldiers looked as if they could not move. The first lash fell, the second one - the thin face became deathly pale - the third lash - and suddenly they heard a swear, a cry and a sob, and the next moment Jim jumped forward and grabbed Willy in his arms.
"I'm the guilty one" he cried, "do not lash this child any longer, lash me," and he bent to receive the next lash.
"Oh no, Jim" it came softly over Willy's pale lips, "they may not lash you, I bore your punishment," and he fainted in the Chief Officer's arms. They carried Willy to the Hospital tent where the doctor tried everything in his power to save his life, but he was too weak. As the sun's last rays died away, Jim slipped quietly into the tent. He knelt before the bed and took the small cold hand in his big, rough hand. "Willy, Willy why did you do it; you surely knew that I was guilty!" Willy opened his dying eyes for the last time and said: "Jim, I just wanted to help you understand what Jesus did for you on the cross!" and he blew out his last breath.
Jim cried aloud like a small child. Jim, the godless hard-hearted Jim! He pressed Willy's eyes shut and said: "Willy, Jesus Christ died for my sins, and you died for my sin, and by His grace I promise to go to heaven one day and thank Him and you for ever for what He and you did for me!" After this experience Jim had been one of the best soldiers in the Chief Officer's army until the day he died.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Now read you own name in the place of the underlined words (the world, and whosoever).
Love: Dennis Hugo