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‘Free to Serve.’

She chose His service. For the Lord of Love

Had chosen her, and paid the awful price

For her redemption; and had sought her out,

And set her free, and clothed her gloriously,

And put His royal ring upon her hand,

And crowns of loving-kindness on her head.

She chose it. Yet it seemed she could not yield

The fuller measure other lives could bring;

For He had given her a precious gift,

A treasure and a charge to prize and keep,

A tiny hand, a darling hand, that traced

On her heart’s tablet words of golden love.

And there was not much room for other lines,

For time and thought were spent (and rightly spent,

For He had given the charge), and hours and days

Were concentrated on the one dear task.

But He had need of her. Not one new gem


But many for His crown;—not one fair sheaf,

But many, she should bring. And she should have

A richer, happier harvest-home at last.

Because more fruit, more glory and more praise

Her life should yield to Him. And so He came,

The Master came Himself, and gently took

The little hand in His, and gave it room

Among the angel-harpers. Jesus came

And laid His own hand on the quivering heart,

And made it very still, that He might write

Invisible words of power—‘Free to serve!’

Then through the darkness and the chill He sent

A heat-ray of His love, developing

The mystic writing, till it glowed and shone

And lit up all her life with radiance new,—

The happy service of a yielded heart.

With comfort that He never ceased to give

(Because her need could never cease) she filled

The empty chalices of other lives,

And time and thought were thenceforth spent for Him

Who loved her with His everlasting love.

Let Him write what He will upon our hearts,

With His unerring pen. They are His own,

Hewn from the rock by His selecting grace,

Prepared for His own glory. Let Him write!

Be sure He will not cross out one sweet word

But to inscribe a sweeter,—but to grave

One that shall shine for ever to His praise,

And thus fulfil our deepest heart-desire.

The tearful eye at first may read the line,

‘Bondage to grief!’ But He shall wipe away


The tears, and clear the vision, till it read

In ever-brightening letters, ‘Free to serve!’

For whom the Son makes free is free indeed.

Nor only by reclaiming His good gifts,

But by withholding, doth the Master write

These words upon the heart. Not always needs

Erasure of some blessèd line of love

For this more blest inscription. Where He finds

A tablet empty for the ‘lines left out,’

That ‘might have been’ engraved with human love

And sweetest human cares, yet never bore

That poetry of life, His own dear hand

Writes ‘Free to serve!’ And these clear characters

Fill with fair colours all the unclaimed space,

Else grey and colourless.

Then let it be

The motto of our lives until we stand

In the great freedom of Eternity,

Where we ‘shall serve Him’ while we see His face,

For ever and for ever ‘Free to serve.’

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