Abridged from Only a Servant, by Kristina Roy
Only a Servant
Again there was a very beautiful summer evening. The light of the moon covered the village as with liquid silver. Some of the rays fell also on the hut of old David; they lit up the rustic bench and the aged man sitting upon it. He was in holiday attire, and it seemed as if a holiday spirit rested upon his face.
In his thought he wondered why he should have such joy today. Was he so pleased that Sammy could finally open his store, and that he was instrumental in helping him? The old man could not understand himself, how love for other people came to his heart—to him, who formerly did not love other people, did not feel with them. If they had sorrow, it did not hurt him; if they had joy, it was nothing to him. But today, he could have cried for joy when Dorka came to him in the store, and full of rejoicing as she was, said, “The Lord Jesus repay you all for what you have done for Sammy.”
It pleased him much that these two young people loved each other, and that they were so good that they would be happy together, and that he was able to help them in a measure.
Sammy and Method also thanked him and that pleased his old heart so much.
“Until lately I have been living in vain in this world,” thought the old man. “I lived only for myself, but now, since I started to do good to others, I realize that it is the duty of man in this world and that God commands us to love our neighbor as ourself. Therein is the happiness. People lived all around me with many a care, and I could have advised and helped them—but I did not do it. What then could have made me rejoice?
“I saw that they despised me. Well, why should they have loved old David? I did not harm anybody; my heart was very much stuck on that fact, that I was better than those all around me, but I was not. Why should anybody love me?
“ ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,’ (Matthew 20:28) said Christ. O Adonai, do not cast me away, if I say, my Christ! I cannot help myself. I am a sinful man. Jerusalem we have not—no temple, no Ark of the Covenant, no sacrifice, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. I must have a lamb. I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Lamb. If it is a sin and treachery before thee, O God of Jacob, slay me at once, but if not, oh, let that blood of Jesus Christ cleanse me from my sins and guilt. I am placing my hands on that Lamb, slain for me. ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.’ (Isaiah 53:6-7) Thus He took upon Himself death for me, my Messiah, my Immanuel. ‘He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.’ (Isaiah 53:10)
“I have resisted, but I can no longer: I believe that He lives, that He rose from the grave, that He lives with thee; yes, He even lives in the heart of old David.”
The old man pressed his bands on his heart, and such a light covered his face, that he looked like one of the elders before the throne of God.
“I used to pray like David, ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.’ (Psalm 119:18) God of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Thou hast heard me: hast given light on Thy Word.
“I resisted, did not understand, did not want to understand; but now I can no longer. I will not resist, like Saul. Yes. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ, the Messiah, Thy Son, and that You gave Him to me also.”
The voice of the old man ceased, only his lips moved. What more he said remains between him and his God, covered up. Out of eyes, turned toward heaven, flowed abundant tears of genuine sorrow for the lost opportunities. They were tears of a child who has found his Father—Who was not angry, did not threaten or punish, but forgave, because He loved—and that eternally.
In the quietness of that Friday evening, old David started with the swallows on the way home. Just before the twelfth hour of his sad, forsaken life, God resurrected his soul and gave to his heart the light of eternal life: Jesus, the Savior of sinners.
The old man sat thus about an hour, and was so lost in those God-exalting thoughts that he had not heard the steps, nor seen him, for whom even now his happy soul prayed, though inaudibly. But the youth who was drawing nigh saw, and for a long while stood there, not able to take his eyes from the shining face of the aged man.
Distant shrieks pierced the quietness of the evening; somewhere in the village a drunkard was staggering along, and was angry that the street was not wide enough. Thus was old David disturbed in his thoughts. He turned his head, and noticed that he was no longer alone; soon they sat together on the bench. The aged Jew told Method that today he would, and really could, say with Ruth, the grandmother of David, “Thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
“Praise the Lord!” cried the young man, after they had talked together for a long, long time, and given glory to the living God for the grace He had manifested in old David. “Praise God! His promises are eternally true; I trusted in Him and He did not disappoint me.”
“Thee?” wondered old David.
“Yes, me! Today, dear aged one, since Christ is already thine, I can and finally will tell you, that this village would never have seen me, if it had not been for you. Do not let this overwhelm you; it was for you that I came, just because of you. You told me a while ago that I led you to the Messiah as Philip did Nathaniel. Yes, Philip went to look for Nathaniel and I searched for you also; but it cost me much before I found where you lived.”
“You say you have searched for me, for me, even before we met each other? That is not possible! And why?”
“Why did Philip look for Nathaniel? Just to lead him to Jesus.”
“But he knew Nathaniel, but how about you?” The old man gripped his hand firmly.
“I again have known someone, of whose life you have never known, and who loved you to his last hour.
“I told you once that a Jew brought me to the knowledge of the truth. This, my benefactor, to whom I am indebted for everything on this earth and eternally, was named Ruben Sokolov. He was the son of a rich Russian Jew Sokolov, and his mother was that child, as beautiful as Moses, for whom you sorrow up to this day, your daughter Esther.”
“Method!” cried the aged man; he rose and sank back again. Who can describe the storm of feelings manifested in his face? “Method, you have known her, my daughter, my daughter, my child? Have you seen her? Are you sure it was she?”
“Surely, it was she; though I have seen her only in photographs, both as a bride and shortly before her death.”
“Her death—then she died, lives no more?”
“She died, but she will live forever. She died praying for you, and had her son promise her, since she could not find you by correspondence, that he would personally go to search for you as soon as he had finished his preparation in the schools.”
“Then she knew about me?” He shook his head in sad amazement.
“Her mother had told her all, and she loved you dearly. She imbued her son with this love also.”
“And my wife?” groaned the aged one.
“Your wife was really more deceived than guilty, she regretted her transgression at once, and wanted to return: but they would not let her. They told her how angry you were. And when the bill of divorce came she believed them and married him who deceived her, but she never was happy again, and died before the wedding of her daughter, who at once left for Canada.
“It was there that Sokolov first found grace and the Savior, then she followed him, and together they had the pleasure of leading their son to Christ. They spent much for his education, and had only one desire, that he might bring the message of salvation to his people.
“They saw their desire fulfilled. At least the father lived to hear the son preach, and died shortly afterward. I came to the knowledge of the Savior, and your grandson became my friend. I owe him everything. And he loved me as only he could love!
“Because he was a Slovak he confided in me that perhaps somewhere in Hungary his grandfather was living, whom he was bound by a promise to his departed mother to find. Whenever we prayed together, he always prayed about that, and about the possibility of reaching that one.
“By God’s direction and after much hunting, the Lord granted me contact with the young Rasho. It was just when he had come from the old country. From him I heard about old David, whose wife had left him. After that we searched by mail, and found out everything. Ruben was very glad, and prayed constantly to his heavenly Father that he might be able to save the soul of his grandfather.
“But the Lord of life and death had decreed otherwise. Ruben was so occupied in the ministry that he could not free himself at once. The Lord let him see great results, and many people were blessed through his ministry. Then came the sickness—a cold. The angel of death came also and took his pure soul home—he had to go.
“I knew of his sorrow, that he would not be able to bring the light to his grandfather. But what would hinder me from doing it for him? In his dying hour I gave him the promise—believing in God, who would not leave so many prayers of the daughter and grandson unanswered—that I would endeavor to bring his grandfather to the Lord, so that they might someday meet in eternity and be finally united there. They buried him and cried over him; and I came to Hradova as his substitute.
“I knew that it would not be easy to win the hardened man at once, and if I would come to him as the messenger of his grandson, he either would not believe me or would harden himself against the deceased, also. The fact was that old David was a Jew, and his grandson died as a Christian; thus I realized that it would take some time. In order to be as close as possible to him, I offered myself to Ondrasik as a servant and asked God to grant me to win first the heart of that man. He granted that prayer. A simple servant would not have aroused the suspicion of old David, neither did he. But I had to be very careful in his presence not to betray the fact that I had not always lived in these circumstances.
“I also feared the return of the young Rasho, but the Lord granted that he did not recognize me. The first time I met him I had a beard. Clothing also changes a man considerably.
“Now I have told you everything, and I praise my Lord that He enabled me to keep my promise, and also, that I have not been here among you in vain. Now I can leave with satisfaction because my mission is completed.”
The young man rose and the aged one, stunned by the news he heard, followed him into the hut. Method closed the door, locked it, and made a light. Out of inner pockets he drew treasures precious to the aged Jew. They were the photographs of his daughter for whom he had cried so bitterly, her husband Sokolov, and a nice picture of his grandson. Looking at his face one would be reminded of the words, “The Lord took delight in his soul, therefore, he hasted to deliver him from the midst of iniquity.”
“Well then, dear neighbor, there you have your treasures, and here you have something else—Ruben’s New Testament. Enjoy everything and tomorrow, if the Lord grants that we should live, I will come again to answer all your questions that may come to you in the meantime.”
The young man went, and the aged one remained with his treasures and with his God, whose great love he just now began to fully appreciate.
In the morning before they were called to breakfast, Gazda and the servant met in the orchard.
“If you please, Method, come this way!” called Ondrasik.
“What do you wish, Gazda?”
“Old David called at our house last night and related such strange things that we can hardly believe them.”
The young man smiled sincerely and lovingly looked at the man.
“Is it true that you came to Hradova just because of the old Jew?”
“Yes, I came just for his sake.”
“Is it really so?” Rasho exclaimed from behind him.
The young man looked around and joyfully exclaimed, “and you have not recognized me?”
“Why should I?”
“Well, don’t you remember that young fellow in Braddock to whom you spoke about your native village and old David?”
“Oh, yes, now I remember,” the young farmer smote his forehead with the palm of his hand, “that is the reason you seemed to me somewhat familiar. But then you had a beard and were clothed like a gentleman—and today?”
“I hope you like me this way, also,” smiled Method.
Ondrasik interposed, “If what David says is true, then you have never been a servant before, nor were you born to be a farmhand.”
“That may not be true, since I inherited from my parents a larger farm than yours here!”
“Oh, how could you live among us!” they both exclaimed surprised. “How could you lower yourself so because of the Jew?”
“I know a King’s Son; you know Him, too, who left His royal throne and crown, and served thirty-three years for me, the unworthy one. Could not I, wretched one, serve two years for the sake of that man whom He loved? Besides, I had a good time here with you. I hope you like me and that I was not among you in vain. Who knows what else is awaiting me in this life? It is not very likely that I shall be a farmer’s servant again; but I can say that those were the two happiest years of my life, where I could at least resemble my Lord in some way, while I was privileged to be Ondrasik’s servant.” The pleasant face of the youth grew serious.
They could not continue their conversation, as they were called into the house.
It is certain that much more was spoken about it, not only at breakfast, but especially that afternoon when they all gathered in Sammy’s new house.
The Servant Departs
It was on another beautiful Sunday afternoon, the haze of the fall spread over the woods and valleys, and the trees were bare of their leaves. In the oak grove—on the very spot where once Method related how the swallows came home, then being surrounded by a group of children and Sammy Petrash—there sat this same Sammy, but he was alone. Method was no longer there. He was no longer in Hradova; in vain one would have looked around for that friendly, youthful figure. No longer could you hear the children crying along the streets, “Uncle Method! Uncle Method!” Though they kept on pointing out the gifts and keepsakes which he had distributed among them before leaving.
Method finished his term of service with Ondrasik, and he finished the house, which, it was now revealed, he had never intended for himself, only to show to the people in Hradova how to appreciate their homeland. As suddenly as he came, just as suddenly he left. Nobody could keep him there, he was just not one of them.
Who would have thought so many things would change in those two years? How happy and orderly everything was now at the Petrash home, with the parents, sister, brother-in-law; and he with Dorka in that beautiful house Method had built. And when he thought of the happy family of the Podhajskys and especially the Ondrasik family, how they now lived for God, he could not give enough thanks to Him, because He sent Method to seek old David, and at the same time grace to find even them. Oh, how good God was to them all.
Sammy looked around. He seemed to see him once more and hear him tell the story about how the swallows came home. Well, he, also, flew to a better, warmer country and would not live in that nest that he had built. The neighbors found out that he had built that house (on what had been the swamp) for old David, from the money that the grandson entrusted to him for David. And that David could have lived there like a rich man because he had inherited much from his grandson.
Method had planned for them very nicely, that they both together, Dorka and Sammy, would take care of the aged man, who really loved them, and thus he need be no longer alone. But the aged one would not stay. A mighty desire possessed him to go and see the graves of his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, and be buried there beside them, that he might be united with them at least in death, if not in this life.
This is what was commonly known in the village, but Sammy knew that old David would have died, surely died, if he should have had to be separated from Method. He was not surprised, because he understood him; often he himself would have fled to him, but that he had good parents and a loving wife.
Thus Ondrasik, together with Petrash, bought the house for their children. Old David sold it to them for half the cost, and his own hut he presented to old Mother Podhajsky, so she could make room for the young family, since it was large. Thus, even after he was gone they continued to bless the old Jew, David.
For years he had lived in that small village, the people had become used to him; toward the end of that time he was changed into a very good man. They will remember him.
Will they forget him who had been among them such a short time, living there only two years? Can they forget Method?
They will forget him, because people have very brief remembrance of kindness shown to them, but for a long time yet, the neighbors will speak among themselves about the time when Ondrasik’s servant lived in Hradova.
He disappeared from sight; but the light and love which he had sown those years have taken root and are increasing constantly.