I'M SCARED OF BEING BAD—

HOW CAN I LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

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LET'S HAVE A FEW TRUE STORIES:

The Happy Way to a Happy Home 

It was one of those sultry, suffocating summer days in Washington, D.C. Everybody was hot and tired and sticky. Whether you walked or whether you stood still, you were bathed in perspiration. A clean shirt lasted twenty minutes. There was no air-conditioning back then.

The city appeared deserted, for the heat had driven nearly all the people off the streets. But it was almost as hot inside as out, and just as stifling. At noon I went into a restaurant. The customers all looked about as depressed as I felt. 

It was too hot to eat; too hot to care about anything or anybody. Just then I noticed a young girl waiting on the people, her face aglow with smiles. The contrast was so striking that I watched her awhile..

She would come to tables at which people were sitting, tired, hot, and irritable, and smile at them so cheerfully, so sincerely, that she made them smile back at her. And it didn't make any difference who it was. She had the same happy greeting for everybody. The whole big restaurant was cheered by her presence.

At suppertime that same day I thought I would go back to the same place to eat, just to see if that unusually happy little soul had lost her radiance.

The evening was hotter than the day. It was almost too much trouble to drag my weary legs to the restaurant. But then, sure enough, smiling still, was the same cheerful waitress I had seen before.

I must confess I felt a bit ashamed of myself, for I had rested while she had worked, and here I was still tired, while she was working away, as bright and cheerful as ever.

The hotter the day, the cooler she seemed. The more others frowned, the more she smiled. As others became harder to please, she became more willing to help them.

Then an idea came to me. Suppose everybody should have a sweet spirit like that, and a smile like that, what a happy place this old world would be to live in!

Haven't you noticed how pleasant it is to talk to people who smile at you? It cheers you up, doesn't it? Makes you feel good. Makes you want to smile at them.

While I was sitting there in that restaurant watching the inspiring little scene, my mind went back to a hymn I used to sing in church long ago:

"There is a happy land, Far, far away." Maybe you have sung it too. Then I began to wonder what will make that land so happy. It's going to have golden streets, so we're told, and pearly gates and jasper walls. There'll be a sea of "glass mingled with fire," and a beautiful river with many, many glorious trees and flowers growing all about it. And there'll be magnificent mansions for us all to live in. And there'll be marvelous lighting arrangements, and air conditioning, so that it will never be too hot or too cold. But will it be all these wonderful things that will make the people happy, and keep them happy?

I don't think so.

There are many people about nowadays with beautiful homes and gardens who are the grumpiest people on earth, and the hardest to get along with. And there are many children with heaps and heaps of toys and other good things, who are perfect little demons. Maybe you know some of them.

No, it isn't the possession of beautiful things that will make heaven a happy place in which to live. Rather, it will be the joy in the people's hearts, and the smiles on their faces.

There won't be a single disagreeable person there.

Not one. Nor anybody with a grouch or a grumble, or any hard feelings of any sort.

And when you walk down the streets of the New Jerusalem one day, as I hope you will, you will not even notice the streets of gold or the gates of pearl for looking at the smiling faces of the people you will pass on the way. There will not be a sad face among them.

You will be thrilled through and through just to see everybody so cheerful, especially after seeing so many people miserable and cross and grumpy down here.

From behind you and before you will come the sound of holy, happy laughter; for their mouths shall be "filled with laughter," the Bible says. Everybody will be bubbling over with joy.

And so will heaven's happiness continue forever and ever. Won't that be wonderful?

"They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light, on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Revelation 7:16, 17.

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 35:10.

That will be a heaven worth waiting for, worth hoping for, worth living for.

Wouldn't you like to be there?

Well, you may be, if you wish. But first you must let Jesus take out of your heart everything that would spoil that lovely place. Every mean thought must go, with everything that is cruel, coarse, rude, unfriendly, or impolite. For nothing that might harm anybody else or ruin anyone's happiness may enter there.

Jesus can do this for you. He can change you and make you fit to live in His beautiful heaven. That is why He came to this world—to cleanse us from every evil thing and make us ready to enjoy the wonderful new world of eternal joy and blessedness which He is preparing for His children.

Strangely enough, while we are preparing for the happiness of the next world, we shall be happier in this!

The frowns will vanish, the grumbles will cease, the hard words will disappear. In their place smiles will come, and a cheerfulness that will lighten the darkness around us like radiance from heaven itself.

That's how you may get to the happy, happy land, "far, far away."

Let's start on the road to it now.

   

Patching Up the House  

  Gerald had just completed his list of New Year's resolutions. Just why he had made the list he was not quite sure, but the most important reason, no doubt, was that the boy next door had just done the same. It was the thing to do. 

Gerald looked down his list and began to wonder how long he would keep some of his promises. For instance, the list began: "I resolve that I will always get up early in the morning." 

"That," he said to himself, "will probably last about a week at the most."

Then there was, "I resolve that I will not tease my baby sister." 

"That one," he told himself, "will hardly last out the afternoon."

Next came, "I resolve to help Mother wash the dishes once a day without grumbling." 

"A good resolution," he thought, "but not likely to be kept after school starts." 

Next, "I resolve never to read any book or paper that Mother doesn't approve." 

Gerald wasn't too sure about this one, and he wondered what he should do with the comics he had hidden at the bottom of his bureau drawer.

Next, "I resolve that I will never again say a bad word."

"Now I'll be___" began Gerald, pulling himself up short; "why did I make this resolution?" 

Just then Mother came in, and, seeing Gerald so interested, asked whether she might read what was written on the piece of paper he held in his hand. Mother smiled and said she was pleased that Gerald was "turning over a new leaf" and planning to be such a good boy. "But I wonder how long they will last?" she added with a smile.

"Oh, not long, I suppose," said Gerald, laughing. "But it was fun to make up the list. All the boys around here are making their own."

"I suppose it is a good idea to make these resolutions," said Mother, "but I never had much faith in them."

"Why not?" asked Gerald.

"Oh, well," began Mother, "just because they are so seldom kept. To my mind it is too much like patching up an old house." 

"Patching up a house, Mother!" laughed Gerald. "What makes you say that? Whatever does it have to do with New Year resolutions?"

"Well, I would have to tell you a story to explain exactly what I mean."

"Go on, tell it," urged Gerald, who loved stories above everything else.

"Long, long ago," began Mother, "there was a family living in one of the Eastern States. Deciding, like many others, to go West, they packed everything into their covered wagon and started off. 

After traveling a few hundred miles they stopped, built a house, and settled down. But the oldest boy was not satisfied. He wanted to go farther west still; so, bidding the family good-by, he moved on. 

Week after week he trudged westward, coming finally to a tract of land that really appealed to him. It was very fertile, and had plenty of water. Here he built a small shack for himself and started farming on his own.

"Years passed by. Other people carne to the same district. Soon a village sprang up. Then it grew to be a small town, and then a city.

"Still this boy, now grown to be an old man, dwelt in his humble little shack. He liked it. Other people could have mansions if they wanted them, but, 'Give me my little shack,' said he. 

However, the people around didn't like having that little old shack in the midst of their beautiful homes. They said it spoiled the whole district, and should be torn down. Some of them tried to buy the place, but the old man refused to sell.

"At last one day two well-dressed men called at the little shack. The old man invited them in and asked them what they wanted.

" 'We have come to buy your shack,' they said.

" 'Nothing doing,' said the old man. 'I've lived here many years, and I'm going to live here till I die.'.

" 'But we are willing to pay you a very big price,' they said. 'See, here is a check for $100,000. If you will just sign this receipt, the cash is yours.' 

"The old man had never seen so much money in all his life. This was more than all he had ever earned put together. Perhaps, he thought, such a chance to make a lot of money would never come his way again.

"He signed, and the men went away, promising to return in a day or two with the final documents.

"Hardly had they left, however, before the old man's conscience pricked him. He told himself that he should not have taken so much money for the place. Why, it wasn't worth a thousand dollars, let alone a hundred thousand. Look at that door half off its hinges, and that window that wouldn't close, and the chimney that smoked so badly.

" 'Well,' he thought to himself, 'if I am going to take so much money for it, at least I ought to patch it up a bit.' So he took off his coat and went at the job.

"By and by the two men returned, and the final documents were signed. As they were leaving, the old man spoke up. 'I hope,' he said, 'you have noticed what I have done to the place since you were here before.'

"'Done to it?' they asked. 'What have you done to it? Oh, you shouldn't have bothered. We are going to tear it down and build a mansion here.'

"And so it is," concluded Mother, "with us and our resolutions."

"But I don't quite see . . ." began Gerald.

"I know," said Mother, "but it is this way: We keep trying and trying to patch up all that is wrong about us by saying, 'I resolve this,' and, 'I resolve that,' but it doesn't do any good. 

You see, Gerald, Jesus has bought the whole property—every bit of us—and He wants to build a beautiful mansion in place of our little shack. All we have to do is to ask Him to come into our hearts. Then He will get to work and change everything Himself. He will even change our desires, so that we will not want to do wrong things or say wrong words or even hide silly comics in a drawer, so that Mother won't see them."

At this Gerald jumped up, blushing all over his face and down his back. "Er-er-er," he began, "excuse me, Mother, just a minute. There's something I want to do." 

For a moment Mother wondered what it could be that Gerald had so suddenly thought about; but as she listened she could hear a drawer being pulled out of a bureau and something being stuffed into the wastepaper basket. Mother smiled and offered up a little prayer of thanksgiving.

The new mansion was being built already!

     

Harold's Hurting Heart

  It Had been a bad day for Harold. He had been cross with Sister, rude to Mother, short with Father, and, oh dear, what a lot of trouble he had had! Life seemed utterly miserable. He was sure nobody loved him.

It was a very sad and lonely Harold that went to bed that night. He didn't mean to upset people so. He wanted to be good, but somehow he couldn't. Just when he made up his mind never to say anything unkind again, why, that was the very moment he said the worst thing possible.

He tried to say his prayers, but it was difficult. He kept thinking of all the naughty things he had said and done that day, and what God must think of him. Finally he gave it up, jumped up off his knees, and climbed into bed. But he could not sleep. His thoughts seemed to keep going round and round. What was the use of trying to be good when you couldn't be good? Why does a boy have to get into so much trouble and have everybody cross with him all the time?

Just as he began to despair he seemed to hear a little voice saying, “Jesus loves you; He will help you to be good." This was comforting, but how could Jesus make him good?

An hour or so later Mother went upstairs to bed. As she passed Harold's room she thought she heard someone crying. She stood still and listened. Yes, someone was crying. She crept softly to the door and looked in.

"What is it, dear?" she asked tenderly. "Are you in pain?" 

"Oh, Mother, my heart hurts," he said.

Mother was at his side in a moment, wiping his tears. "Whereabouts?" she asked anxiously. "Did you hurt yourself today? Shall I send for the doctor?" 

"No, no, Mother, not that. I haven't hurt myself that way. It's just that I am sorry I have been such a bad boy. I want to be good. I want to do what Jesus wants me to do." Mother dropped on her knees beside him. She knew that Jesus was speaking to him. This was perhaps the great moment for which she had been praying so long —the great moment when he would fully give his heart to God.

"All you have to do," she whispered gently, "is to tell Jesus that you love Him, that you want to be His child, and that you accept Him as your Saviour. Do you want to tell Him that, really, truly?"

"Yes, Mother, I do."

Then Harold got out of bed, knelt beside Mother, and told Jesus of the hurt in his heart and how he wanted to give that heart to Him for always and always.

Just then Father came in. Seeing what was happening, he knelt down beside Mother and Harold. 

A moment later Big Brother and Big Sister came in and they too knelt. Then they all prayed for Harold, one after the other. It was a very wonderful prayer meeting, one that Harold never forgot.

That night a boy was "born again"—born into the kingdom of God. And from that moment there was a great change in Harold. He was a new boy, a different boy. He was, as the Bible says so beautifully, "in Christ. . . a new creature."

As soon as they all rose from their knees, he was different. He wanted to talk about Jesus at once.

"You know, Mother," he said, "the devil was pulling me one way, but Jesus pulled me back. I am so glad."

Next day it was like sunshine after rain. Harold was radiant with his new-found love for Jesus. He was no longer cross and grumpy and ornery. Instead, he was kind, gracious, gentle, and respectful, a joy to have around the house. 

Instead of objecting to everything that Mother and Father suggested for him to do, he replied, "Of course, I shall be glad to help you any way I can." 

Instead of fighting with Big Brother and Big Sister all the time, he showed them such courtesy that they were amazed. "Why!" they exclaimed, "something has happened to Harold!"

Something had happened to him. He had found God. He had given himself to Jesus. The Great Physician had healed the hurt in his heart.  

When They All Come Home Again

The big railroad station was crowded. Hundreds of soldiers were making their way to a troop train, and many wives and children had come to see them off.

A fine big man in uniform was talking to his pretty wife, while a sweet little girl was holding fast to his hand. Suddenly he picked up the little girl in his arms and kissed her over and over again, put her down gently, then turned and ran for his train. Maybe you can guess why he turned away so quickly. I think it was because he was afraid he might cry if he stayed too long, and soldiers mustn't cry.

Then I began to think of all the other people who have had to go away from their homes and their loved ones during time of war or other disaster; all the little children who have had to leave their mothers and fathers and go to live with strangers, for one reason or another; all the boys and girls in certain countries who have had to go to strange places to work by order of the government; all the families that have been separated by one terrible happening or another. All the children of "broken homes." 

What a lot of sad people there must be in the world today! How many of them must be longing for their loved ones to come home again! 

How many dear children there must be whose hearts are aching for their mothers and daddies far away! How many mothers and daddies there must be, too, who would give everything they have just to see their boys and girls once more! 

Wouldn't it be glorious if someone could suddenly make all the trouble end; and say, "Now let everybody go back home!" What a happy day that would be! 

A shout of joy would go up from all over the world such as has never been heard before. In millions upon millions of little homes people would say, "Just think, Daddy's coming home!" or, "How wonderful! The children will be back next week!" or, "It's too good to be true! but we'll all be together again soon!"

I wish I could make this happen, don't you? It seems to me that it would be the greatest, grandest thing that anybody could do. But neither you nor I can ever do it. In fact, nobody in all the world can do it. Only Jesus. He can, and He will.

Maybe you haven't heard about it, but it's really going to happen someday. In His beautiful book, the Bible, Jesus has told us some of His plans.

To His disciples He once said: "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:2, 3.

That means that He has prepared a place for you and for me, for your mother and daddy, too, and for all your brothers and sisters, and the little friends you love. He wants us all to be in heaven with Him and with one another.

Soon, as He said, He will come back to take us to that beautiful home He has made ready for us; and in that happy day all who have gone to sleep in death will be awakened by His lovely voice, and "we which are alive. . . shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

There is the promise again. We are going to be "together." Not separated. Not left lonely forever. All who love Jesus, all who have truly given their hearts to Him, are going to live with Him through all the years to come.

In that happy day, the Bible says, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." Revelation 21:4.

And Jesus Himself said, "I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying." Isaiah 65:19.

Then there shall be no more wars, no more falling bombs, no more ugly sights or dreadful noises, no more things to frighten us or make us sad. Our loved ones will not leave us, never to return. There will be no more sad partings, no more saying good-by.

That is why the Good Book says that "God shall wipe away all tears" for nobody will feel like crying any more. We will all be together forever and ever, as far in the future as you can think, and a thousand times as far again.

Oh, it's going to be wonderful when "they all come home again" into the everlasting kingdom of God! I would like to be there and see it happen, wouldn't you?

Just to see everybody so happy will be marvelous! Can't you imagine thousands of mothers and daddies clasping their children in their arms and crying out happily, "Darling, here you are at last!"And the children shouting, "Daddy, it's you! Mamma, It's you."

No wonder it says that "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 35:10.

They will have something to sing about, won't they? And they will be so very, very happy that they will go on singing forevermore.

Are you planning to be there? I hope so. Jesus will be looking for you.

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