Years ago, while an American named David Morse was living and working in India, he met and became friends with a pearl diver, Rambhau.
Morse spent many evenings in Rambhau’s cabin, reading to him from the Bible and explaining its central theme: God’s love and salvation in Jesus. Rambhau enjoyed listening to the Word of God, but whenever Morse would encourage Rambhau to accept Christ as his Savior, Rambhau would shake his head and reply, “Your Christian way to Heaven is too easy for me! I cannot accept it. If I gained admittance to Heaven in that manner, I would feel like a pauper there—like a beggar who has been let in out of pity. I may be proud, but I want to deserve my place in Heaven. I want to earn it, and so I am going to work for it.”
Nothing that Morse could say seemed to have any effect on Rambhau’s decision. Years passed.
Then one evening Morse heard a knock on his door. It was Rambhau.
“Come in, friend,” said Morse.
“Will you come with me to my house?” asked the old diver. “I have something to show you. Please don’t say no.”
“Of course I’ll come,” replied Morse.
As they neared his cabin, Rambhau said, “In a week’s time I will start working for my place in Heaven. I am leaving for Delhi, and I am crawling there on my knees.”
“That’s crazy!” Morse exclaimed. “It’s nine hundred miles to Delhi. The skin will break on your knees, and you will have blood poisoning before you get there—if you ever get there!”
“No, I must get to Delhi,” affirmed Rambhau, “the immortals will reward me for it! The suffering will be sweet, for it will purchase Heaven for me!”
“Rambhau, friend, you can’t. How can I let you do that, when Jesus Christ has already suffered and died to purchase Heaven for you?”
But the old man could not be moved. “You are my dearest friend on earth. You have stood by me in sickness, in want. Sometimes you have been my only friend. But even you cannot turn me from my desire to purchase eternal bliss. I must go to Delhi!”
Once inside the small cabin, Rambhau walked to a back room and returned shortly with a small but heavy strongbox.
“I have had this box for years,” he said. “I keep only one thing in it. Now I will tell you about it. I once had a son. …”
“A son! Rambhau, you have never once mentioned him!”
“No, I couldn’t.” As he spoke, the diver’s eyes filled with tears. “But now I must tell you. My son was a diver too. He was the best pearl diver on the coasts of India. He had the swiftest dive, the keenest eye, the strongest arm, and the longest breath of any man who ever dived for pearls. What joy he brought me!”
“As you know,” Rambhau went on, “most pearls have some defect or blemish that only an expert can discern, but my boy always dreamed of finding the perfect pearl. One day he found it! But in gathering it, he stayed under water too long. He died soon after. That pearl cost him his life.”
The old pearl diver bowed his head. For a moment his whole body shook, but there was no sound. “All these years,” he continued, “I have kept this pearl. Now I am going and may not return, so to you, my best friend, I am giving my pearl.”
Rambhau worked the combination on the strongbox and drew from it a carefully wrapped package. Gently parting the cotton packing, he picked up a mammoth pearl and placed it in Morse’s hand.
It was astoundingly large, almost unreal, and glowed with a luster never seen in cultured pearls! It would have brought a fabulous sum in any market.
For a moment Morse gazed with awe and was speechless. Then he exclaimed, “Rambhau! What a pearl!”
“That pearl, my friend, is perfect,” replied the Indian quietly.
Then Morse was struck with a new thought: This was the very opportunity he had prayed for to help Rambhau understand the value of Jesus’ sacrifice.
“Rambhau,” he said, “this is a wonderful pearl, an amazing pearl! Let me buy it. I will give you ten thousand dollars for it.”
“What? What do you mean?” Rambhau asked.
“I will give you fifteen thousand dollars for it, or if it takes more, I will work for it.”
Rambhau stiffened his whole body. “This pearl is beyond price. Not a man in the world has money enough to pay what this pearl is worth to me. On the market, a million dollars could not buy it. I will not sell it to you. You may only have it as a gift.”
“No, Rambhau, I cannot accept that. As much as I want the pearl, I cannot accept it that way. Perhaps I am proud, but that is too easy. I must pay for it, or work for it.”
The old pearl diver was stunned. “You don’t understand at all, my friend. Don’t you see? My only son gave his life to get this pearl. Its worth is in the lifeblood of my son. I cannot sell this, but I can give it to you. Just accept it as a token of my love for you.”
Morse was choked, and for a moment could not speak. Then he gripped the hand of the old man.
“Rambhau,” he said in a low voice, “don’t you see? My words are just what you have been saying to God all the time.”
The diver looked long and searchingly at Morse. Slowly he began to understand.
“God is offering you salvation as a free gift,” Morse said. “It is so great and priceless that no man on earth can buy it. No man on earth could earn it. If he were to work for it all his life, his life would be millions of years too short. No man is good enough to deserve it. It cost God the lifeblood of His only Son to gain entrance for you into Heaven. In a million years, in a hundred pilgrimages, you could not earn that entrance. All you can do is accept it as a token of God’s love for you, a sinner.
“Rambhau, of course I will accept the pearl in deep humility, praying God I may be worthy of your love. Rambhau, won’t you accept God’s great gift of Heaven, too, in deep humility, knowing it cost Him the death of His Son to offer it to you?”
Tears rolled down the old man’s cheeks. The veil that had clouded his understanding was beginning to lift. “I see it now. I could not believe that salvation was free. Now I understand. Some things are too priceless to be bought or earned. I will accept His salvation, my friend!”
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