The burly miner blinked as he left the dark interior of the coal mine.Â Stopping at a faucet near the mine entrance, he washed the worst ofÂ the grime from his face and hands, then headed towards his home on theÂ outskirts of the village. As he trudged along the dusty lane, heÂ passed the open door of a little church. Inside, a small crowdÂ listened intently as an energetic man gesticulated from the pulpit.Â Interested, the miner stepped to the door.
“Absolute surrender is what we must have,” the minister was saying.Â “Are you willing to surrender yourself absolutely into His hand? IfÂ not, you are not ready to meet your God.”
The minister paced back andÂ forth on the platform. “We do not know how much longer our earthlyÂ probation will last. Tonight you are living; tomorrow may be too late.Â Ask yourself, I beg of you, ‘Am I ready to meet the Lord?'”
The miner, touched to the quick, slipped into the back pew. I am notÂ ready to meet God, he thought. I have lived a careless, godless life.Â How can I make peace with Him? The meeting ended, and the people filedÂ out. Still theÂ miner remained in the pew, his head in his hands.
Finally, the minister touched him on the shoulder. “Brother, are youÂ ready to meet the Lord?”
Blindly, the miner shook his head. “I know I am not. Oh, help me findÂ peace!”
An hour passed as the minister shared the plan of salvation; yetÂ something held the miner back from full surrender.
“It’s getting late,” the minister finally said. “Go home, and continueÂ to seek the Lord.”
The miner shook his head. “Stay with me a little longer; it must beÂ settled tonight.”
Once again the minister explained the way of salvation and prayed, butÂ in vain. Another hour passed.
“You must go home,” the minister told him. “It’s late, and I cannotÂ make it any clearer.”
“It must be settled tonight,” the miner repeated, his eyes burningÂ with earnestness.
“Then we shall stay here together,” the minister agreed. Once more heÂ spoke of Jesus, and shared promise after promise. Once more he prayed, but in vain. “I must go,” the minister finally said. “It will soon beÂ morning. GoÂ home, and return tomorrow night. Maybe then you will find peace.”
“Sir, I cannot leave this place until I find peace.”
The poor man’s voice trembled. “Tomorrow may be too late. It must beÂ settled tonight.”
The minister could not resist his appeal. “By the help of God.” heÂ said, “it shall be settled tonight.”
Again he explained the steps of conversion; again he prayed. As heÂ spoke, the miner broke into sobs and tears, and at last the lightÂ pierced his darkness.
“I see it!” he cried. “I give myself absolutely to God, to His will,Â to do only what He wants. It is settled.
Praise His name, it is settled!” The two men knelt again, but thisÂ time to thank God for bringing light to a sinner’s soul.
The next morning the miner went to work as usual. During the day heÂ was sent to a distant part of the mine to fetch some tools. When heÂ did not return, his fellow workers went to look for him. They foundÂ that the mine walls had caved in on him, and he was buried in theÂ debris. Working with pick and shovel, they began to dig. Finally, fromÂ the fragments of rock and rubbish and stone which hid him from sight,Â came a faint sound:
“Tonight —- would have been —- too late. Thank God —- it wasÂ settled — last night!”
Am I ready to meet the Lord?