The Friend on the Road and Other Studies in the Gospels: Chapter 4 – Sixpennyworth of Miracle
“A cup of cold water only.”–Matt. x. 42.
THE headline of this meditation is not mine. It belongs to George Gissing. And this is how it occurs. Gissing was going along the road one day, and he saw a poor little lad, perhaps ten years old, crying bitterly. He had lost sixpence with which he had been sent to pay a debt. “Sixpence dropped by the wayside, and a whole family made wretched. I put my hand in my pocket, and wrought sixpennyworth of miracle!”
I think Gissing’s phrase is very significant. It suggests how easily some miracles can be wrought. How many troubled, crooked, miserable conditions there are which are just waiting the arrival of some simple, human ministry, and they will be immediately transformed! It is surely this kind of miracle-working ministry which our Lord commends when He tells us of the service rendered by the gift of a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple. It is something which everybody can do, and yet it works a miracle, for it transforms the world of a weary traveller, changing his thirst into satisfaction, his faintness into strength, and his weariness into liberty and song. That miracle costs less than sixpence. A cup of cold water only, and behold! all things become new.
John Morel, Mayor of Darlington, was passing through the town and met a fellow citizen who had just been released from gaol, where he had served three years for embezzlement. “Hallo!” said the Mayor, in his own cheery tone, “I’m glad to see you! How are you?” Little else was said, for the man seemed ill at ease. Years afterwards, as John Morel told me, the man met him in another town, and immediately said, “I want to thank you for what you did for me when I came out of prison.” “What did I do?” “You spoke a kind word to me, and it changed my life!” Sixpennyworth of miracle! A cup of cold water! A new world!
Ian Maclaren used to carry in his pocket a very well-worn letter, which had been sent to him by one of his poorest parishioners, and which he read again and again, and in many a changing season, and always with renewed cheer and inspiration. It was just a miracle-working letter written by an obscure parishioner who scarcely realised that she was doing anything at all. Just a cup of cold water only, but it proved to be a fountain of life.
But away and beyond all such services as these, what ministries are in our hands for working miracles in the wonder-realm of prayer! We can take sunshine into cold and sullen places. We can light the lamp of hope in the prison-house of despondency. We can loose the chains from the prisoner’s limbs. We can take gleams and thoughts of home into the far country. We can carry heavenly cordials to the spiritually faint, even though they are labouring beyond the seas. Miracles in response to prayer! And yet we will not pray! We will not pray! And the great miracles tarry because we will not fall in supplication upon our knees.