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If I Were A Boy Again

If I Were A Boy Again poster

Synopsis of an address delivered by Pastor P.W. Philpott at the graduation exercises of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

I shall endeavor to give you a practical heart talk. Several days ago, when thinking of this address, there came to my mind some lines written by Howard Arnold Walter, I believe, at the time of his graduation from college:

I would be true, for there are those that trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving and forget the gift;
I would be humble for I know my weakness;
I would look up and laugh and love and lift.

My subject this morning will be, “Two things I would do if I were a boy again and a member of this graduating class.”

First, I would make sure of Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour.

The great question of one’s salvation should be settled at the beginning rather than at the end of life. Jesus is not only the Omega; He is the Alpha; the beginning as well as the end. I have been forty-two years in the ministry and have had to do with a great many human wrecks—men and women whose lives have been little less than tragedies.

Just last Sunday night I had a conversation with a young man with a splendid body, well educated, with a striking personality, still in his early thirties, but broken and enslaved through a life of dissipation.

I am slipping fast,” he said, “and am not very far from the bottom.”

I shall not soon forget his face nor that cry of anguish as I urged him to accept the Saviour. “Accept Christ?” he said. “Accept Christ? Will that undo the past? Will that bring back my darling wife? I killed her with my sin.”

What could I say to him other than God is merciful; He will forgive.

“Forgive?” he said. “Forgive? He may, but can I forgive myself? And can I ever forget? Oh preacher, I have missed the way! I have taken the wrong road!”

This is the point I want you to get. So many miss the way and take the wrong road at the beginning, for, as Solomon says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The late President [Teddy] Roosevelt coined the phrase “strenuous living” and we have come upon the days when life is surely strenuous. Men are being tested from center to circumference of their moral make up, and only those will stand who are anchored to the Rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.

Life is like a building. It must have a foundation if it is to stand the test. Christ visualized this truth in the parable of the two builders. “He that heareth these sayings of mine,” said the Master, “and keepth them is like a man who built his house upon the rock. The floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. But the man who keepth not my sayings (in other words, those who reject the Christ and take their own way through life) is likened to the man who built his house upon the sand. The winds blew and the floods came and beat upon that house, and it fell, for it was founded upon the sand.”

You see the difference was down out of sight. To the natural eye both houses were alike, one seemingly just as good as the other, but the fundamental difference was in the foundation.

Today you graduate. Tomorrow you begin the building for which you have been gathering material throughout these school years. Let me as a father urge that you make sure of Jesus Christ. Do not start without Him. For of all knowledge men acquire, of all discoveries men may make, there is nothing so great, so essential to your own success and happiness as the knowledge of personal fellowship with God. Sir James Simpson, the celebrated discoverer of chloroform, was asked near the close of his life what he considered his greatest discovery. He replied promptly, “My greatest discovery was that I was a lost sinner and Jesus Christ is my Saviour.” For “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ the Lord.”

Second, I would recognize the lordship of Jesus and yield my life to Him.

I would seek His will in everything for I have learned through these years of experience that it is best that He should have His way with me. Not only is His way the holiest way, it is the happiest way.

There is a suggestive picture in the eighteenth chapter of the prophecy of Jeremiah, verses one to six: “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”

This is more than a picture; it is a parable of those invisible forces God brings to bear upon our lives to make or to remake them as He would have them be. You will recall the circumstances in connection with this prophet’s experience. He was a discouraged man. His people, Israel, had failed God again and again and thwarted His purpose. The prophet was brokenhearted, and in his distress cried out: “O that my head were waters, that mine eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night for the hurt of this people.” God took this unusual method of teaching Jeremiah a great lesson which is, incidentally, for us also.

What I want you to note particularly in this story is this: God had in His mind a pattern for Israel to which He was working. He was endeavoring to make the vessel “as seemed good to himself.” But something in the clay resisted His touch and again and again the vessel went to pieces. This was surely true in the history of Israel and, alas, alas, all too true of you and me. The sad part in this story is that the potter made this broken, stubborn clay “another vessel,” not as He would have originally made it—and may I say, a lesser vessel!

God has His best things for a few
Who dare to stand the test;
He has a second best for those
Who will not have His best.

I went in a store a few days ago and noticed a special bargain in socks. They were fifty cents a pair. They looked almost the same as those on another table which were selling for a dollar. I asked the clerk why these were selling for fifty cents.

“Oh,” he replied, “these are seconds.” Which meant, of course, that there was some flaw in these cheaper socks. Stitches had been dropped or a moth had eaten in, or there was something that made them of less value than the manufacturer intended them to be. I am afraid most of us Christians are but seconds!

If I had my life to begin over again I would surely let God have His way that I might be the vessel He desired me to be. For I am convinced that He, if we but yield to Him, will make the very most possible out of our lives.

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