A recent incident is told of a man whose name is a familiar one in the financial world, who died a few years ago. He was the executive head of one of our country's great railways. And a man of remarkable largeness of insight and grasp, and of unusual power of execution. He dealt in hundreds of millions as easily as most of us deal in dollars, and his rugged honesty has never been brought into question. His greatest achievement bulks big in the material structure of one of our great eastern cities.
But his gigantic tasks ran his strength to ebb tide, and then it was seen that the tide was running out. As he lay in the sick chamber a minister called, whose ministry had touched large numbers of the men in the railroad of which the sick man was head, and in the course of conversation tactfully asked:
"Are you a Christian, Mr. Blank?"
"Yes," was the quiet, prompt reply that rather surprised the minister.
"How long have you been a Christian, Mr. Blank?"
"Two days," came the answer as promptly and quietly.
Feeling that there was an interesting story under these answers, the minister gently pressed the question. Then the story came out.
"You know William, who handles freight out here at——?" the sick man asked.
"He showed me the way."
"William" had been a worthless, drunken man of the "down and out" sort. He had been converted at some mission and been radically changed. He had gotten employment at one of the freight-handling stations of this railroad system. It was rough, hard work, but he had gone at it earnestly in his purpose to live an honest life. And in his quiet, earnest way he was always seeking a chance to speak to men of Christ as a personal Saviour, until he became known throughout that part of the system for his simple, earnest piety.
As the sick man realized the seriousness of things for him he had sent for this William. The president of the road whose capitalization ran into hundreds of millions sent for the rough-handed freight handler. And William in his simple, earnest way had pointed the sick man to Christ. And the man of millions had made a new sort of transaction. Christ and he had an understanding.
And as the sick man told the minister the story he paused, and then added, "I have given my strength to the secondary things."
This was the judgment of this shrewd man of big affairs as the new light had come into his life at its close. Happily he had gotten the readjustment of values in time for readjustment of personal relationships. But his life's strength was gone.
If we might get the readjustment that would put secondary things in second place, and put wrong and useless things clear out, in time to be of some use to our blessed Lord.