While President Dwight Eisenhower was taking a holiday in Denver, Colorado, his attention was called to an open letter in a local newspaper which told how six-year-old Paul Haley, dying of incurable cancer, had expressed a wish to see the President of the United States.
In one of those gracious gestures that are remembered long after a man’s most carefully prepared speeches are forgotten, the President decided to grant the boy’s wish.
So one Sunday morning in August a big limousine pulled up outside the Haley home, and out stepped the President of the United States. He walked up to the door and knocked.
Mr. Donald Haley opened the door, wearing blue jeans, an old shirt, and unshaven. Behind him was his little son Paul. Their amazement at finding President Eisenhower on their doorstep can be imagined.
“Paul,” said the President to the little boy, “I understand you want to see me. Glad to see you.” Then he shook hands with the six-year-old, took him out to see the Presidential limousine, shook hands again, and left.
The Haleys and their neighbours, and a lot of other people, will probably talk about this kind and thoughtful deed of a busy President for a long time to come. Only one person is not too happy about it. That is Mr. Haley. He can’t forget how he was dressed when he opened the door. Those jeans, the old shirt, the unshaven face. “What a way to meet the President of the United States!” he says.
Of course, the visit was unannounced and, under the circumstances, it wasn’t to be expected that he would be all dressed up in his ‘Sunday best’. But all his life he will wish he had got up a bit earlier that day, shaved a little sooner, and at least put on a clean shirt before the President arrived.
The spiritual lesson scarcely needs to be drawn. It leaps out at us. Someday the King of heaven is going to pay a surprise visit to every home. Yours and mine. He made this very plain to His disciples long ago. He will return unexpectedly, “as a thief in the night,” suddenly as a lightning flash, and deliberately as “a snare,” or trap, closes upon the unwary.
Of course, it won’t matter what kind of shirt we may be wearing when He comes, or whether we have a collar and tie on, but it will matter a great deal what kind of character is revealed in our faces and in the things we say and do. It will matter a great deal whether we have humbled our hearts before God and confessed our sins to Him, and whether we have asked Him to wrap about us the robe of His righteousness.
If we have not already given ourselves to Him in full surrender, if we have not told Him of our desire to be ready to meet Him joyfully at His coming, we had better be thinking about these things very soon. For the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory is at hand. The promised signs of His coming are now being fulfilled before our eyes, and on a global scale. He is indeed “near, even at the doors.”
~By Arthur S. Maxwell, Signs of the Times, October 6, 1953.