A heavy splash, followed by many ripples and then, apart from a stream of little bubbles which rose to the surface, the water was still. A missionary stood on the pier in the Indian Ocean, his eyes riveted on the water. Finally a black head appeared from the water and a pair of bright eyes looked up. Climbing on the pier, an old pearl diver shook the water from his still supple body.
"As nice a dive as I have ever seen, Rambhau!" remarked David Morse, the missionary, who had come to India to tell the people the good news of salvation through Christ Jesus. "Look at this one, Sahib," said Rambhau, taking a big oyster from between his teeth. David pried it open and sure enough, it held a beautiful shining pearl. "What a treasure!"
"Yes," shrugged the diver, "rather good, but some are better, much better. Look at these little flaws here.
"You know, yesterday you talked with me about God, and I admit, I have many faults and sins, just like that pearl, but I am, and always will be, a Hindu. We Hindus believe that we have to do a lot of things to come to God; I have to correct my faults and do penance for them."
"But Rambhau, my friend, God offers full forgiveness to every sinner who confesses his errors and sins to Him. Everyone who comes to Him in repentance and accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior will be adopted as a son of God. Do you understand?"
"No, Sahib. I often told you, that's too simple for me. Perhaps I am too proud, but I want to do something to get a place in heaven. I intend to go on a pilgrimage to Delhi for my sins, and so I hope to earn God's mercy."
"But Rambhau, you won't even manage this long journey. Today is the time of grace, tomorrow it may well be too late! And apart from that, we cannot earn God's grace, for He wants to give it to us freely.
"The Son of God, Jesus Christ, has suffered on the cross and accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation. God only wants us to confess our sins to Him and then believe that His Son paid all the debt for those sinners who come to Him. He is the only Savior. Without Him there is no salvation. Without Him you are hopelessly lost."
Rambhau shook his head and went home.
No matter how often David Morse talked to him, it was of no avail. The diver would not accept Christ. Yet they became friends, the missionary and the old pearl diver.
One day Rambhau came to see the evangelist. He carried a little box with him, and said, "Sahib Morse, I've got something in here that I want to tell you about. I had a son who was also a diver. He was the best pearl diver along the Indian coast. He had the keenest eye, the longest breath. He could dive down to 30 meters. He was the delight of my heart. He always dreamt of finding a pearl better than any that had ever been found. And indeed, one day he found it, but the oyster was nearly inaccessible, so deep, and so well attached in a rock crevice. In his struggle to get it out he stayed too long under water and strained his heart too much. Soon afterwards he died."
The old man bowed his head, and for a moment his whole body shook, but he made no sound.
"I have kept that pearl for years. Now that I am leaving for Delhi, perhaps never to return, I want to give it to my best friend, to you. Here you are."
For a while the missionary gazed silently at one of the biggest pearls ever found in India. It glowed with a wondrous lustre. "Rambhau! What a pearl!"
"That pearl, Sahib, is perfect!" the Indian replied quietly.
Suddenly an idea flashed across the missionary's mind. Looking up he said, "Rambhau, let me buy this wonderful pearl! I'll give you $1000 dollars for it."
"Sahib," replied Rambhau in a severe tone while straightening up, "this pearl is invaluable. Nobody in this world can pay what this pearl is worth to me. I cannot sell it to you. I can only give it to you as a present."
"No, Rambhau, as much as I want the pearl, I cannot accept it. Maybe I am too proud, but to accept it just like that seems too easy to me. I want to pay or work for it."
"Don't you understand, can't you see, Sahib? My own son gave his life to get this pearl. Its worth is in the life blood of my son. I cannot sell it, I can only give it as a present. Just accept it as proof of my love to you."
Holding back tears, the missionary responded, "Rambhau, don't you see? That is just what you have been saying to God."
The diver gave the missionary a long, searching look as he slowly, slowly began to understand.
"God is offering you salvation as a free gift, at no charge. It is so great and costly that no man would be able to pay for it. It cost God the life of His only Son to open the entrance to heaven. Even through pilgrimages of thousands of miles you could never earn God's grace. He deliberately gave up His beloved Son to the terrible death of the cross. God's love and deliverance of sinners like you and me can only be accepted as a gift, in faith and thankfulness."
God's light entered the old pearl diver's heart.
"Now I understand," he said. Then he turned around and went away, deeply in thought. An hour later he came back and said: "I don't want to wait any longer. I want to come to God right now, just as I am. I cannot earn God's mercy, the price is simply too great. As a lost person I want to accept this love of God. Though it is beyond my understanding, I want to thank Him and His Son Jesus Christ for it."
This is a true story, a striking illustration of God's offer of love. Won't you come to Him too?