I just read this passage from a sermon by George MacDonald in a book called George MacDonald in the Pulpit (published by Johannesen) and it reminded me again why I so love the man’s writings. Here’s the sermon heading:
THE UNEXPECTED GUEST
A Discourse Delivered in the
Union Park Congregational Church, Chicago, Illinois
Sunday Evening, April 13th, 1873
“Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” —Revelation iii. 20.
…I have a picture of you sitting alone by your hearth. You hear the wind moaning outside, over the dreary mountain. Now and then a gust of the coming storm beats against your window, and you are cold. You are sitting by your little fire, and you are trying to make it burn to warm you—coaxing it and feeding it, and it will hardly flicker, hardly glow. You have been living a good many years, and you have gathered what seemed to be at one time precious to you. It may be gold, or golden opinions, it matters not. You have got a chest full of these precious things of some sort, but they won’t make the fire burn. You do not care about them, and your very heart s getting cold. But you hear a tap, calling you to the door. You say, “Oh, it is but the wind; or perhaps it is a neighbour coming; I don’t want him; he cannot help me now.”
Perhaps you go to the door and fling it open and find nothing there but the cold clear sky, and the stars looking in. With a sigh of utter loneliness you shut the door. But the tap comes again, and grows more and more importunate. Where can it be? Yes! There is another door to the room of the house, but you have not used it for years and years. Your big chest with the gold in it, or whatever thing it may be, that you have been gathering all these years, but which won’t burn—the chest stands across it. But the knock comes and comes, and you begin to think it is someone better than you had thought. Suspicion arises in your mind that it is some message—something you must know. You start to the door and you drag the chest away. It bursts, and the treasures roll out. You sweep them aside, and you tear open the old neglected door, and there is a face. It is like a human face only it is full of grace and loveliness. “Why, who is it?” Your own, only friend, the only being that understands your heart, he has come to you, and you have opened the door to him, and he has come in to sup by your fire, and take what you have to give him, if it is the poorest supper you could set before a human being. He will sit down and eat with you. You shall say, “I have not much, but what I have is thine. I am a poor creature, so poor that I am ashamed of myself. That is what I have have been doing all my life long—gathering that stuff there. My heart has been withering and withering, and my mind becoming more and more selfish. I have been wanting that which can feed it. I have been putting value upon things that are worthless. I have not been good and kind. I have tried, but have not got on at all. I am a wretched creature.”
But the friend says, “I have come to sup with you, let us talk about it.” And He whose voice the disciples heard as they went to Him, you hear, though it is a stranger, deeper, and a more tender voice still; and He will sit with you and talk with you as if there were not another soul in the universe that wanted Him. How it is, you cannot tell; but if that be not true, it ought to be true before our hearts can be quiet. But do not wait until He ceases knocking. Let Him in. Let Him in and hearken to Him. What is the best thing in this world? What is the best thing we have got? Jesus—some human heart that can love ours and be honest to it, some heart that loves our heart so well that it would die rather than there should be a blot upon it, or a speck of defilement upon it.
For a moment, imagine such a friend as you would like. Imagine the perfection of the ideal of your soul. I do not care, for a moment, how low you are. I know that a creature that God made must imagine an ideal. I say if you are the lowest and most sensual creature in the world, imagine honestly, what you think your ideal man to be. Then I say to the loftiest of you, dream your highest dream, your highest ideal, your loftiest dream, your most glorious fancy, if you will, of what a friend, a man, a hero, and a perfect human being might be, and he is standing at your door, and knocking to get into your heart, only he is a thousand times grander than it is possible for you to think. He is always knocking and always wanting to get in. It seems to me that we are surrounded on all sides by an infinite sea of truth and love, pressing on all sides of us, in order that we might be benefited thereby.