Wm. F. P. Burton
Out of a Horrible Pit
I shall not easily forget the day that the 1914 War was declared with Germany. We were camped sixteen miles inside the Basutoland border and I had walked into the border town of Ficksburg for our mail.
The mountainous country had been very much overstocked with sheep and cattle. They had nibbled the grass down to the roots, so that there was not enough vegetation to hold the soil together. Thus the heavy rains had worn the soil into deep, dangerous ravines and "dongas".
There was no proper road, just a network of foot and bridle-paths, but I had walked that way each week and thought that I could find my way.
Naturally I stayed in Ficksburg as long as possible to get the latest news, so that the sun was fairly low in the sky when I started back. The first few miles were easy, but after sunset a lowering sky shut out all light, until I realised that I was hopelessly lost.
I stumbled along for some time in what I thought was the right direction, fell into and scrambled out of ruts, barked my shins on rocks, got tangled in thorny aloes and at last sat down in despair, prepared to pass the night with my back resting against a rock.
Just then dogs began to bark and voices called, "Who is there?" How glad I was to hear those voices!
I called back, "I am a white man. I have lost my way."
They shouted, "Don't move! Stay just where you are; we are coming." Soon they came with lanterns, conducted me to their village, and after a light meal covered me with blankets and left me to sleep.
Next morning, those kind Basuto brought me more food, and said, "We will put you on the right road to your camp, but first, let us show you where we found you last night."
They took me to the very edge of a ravine where the eroded soil fell away perpendicularly for some thirty or forty feet. Another two or three steps and I should have been dashed to pieces on the rocks below. It may be imagined with what gratitude those Basutos and I fell on our knees and thanked God for this narrow escape.
The Bible tells us that "all we like sheep have gone astray." (Isaiah 53 v 6) but Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19 v 10). Happy is he who hears the warning voice, "Go no farther! We are bringing a light." The precious Bible says, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119v 105.) Another step without it and you might perish, for "there is a way which seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14 v 12).
If you have lost your way, call to God for help - He is waiting, ready to meet your need.
Take a look into the awful pit into which we have almost fallen, "Where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9 v 46).
"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day or night..." (Revelation 14 vv 10-11
"Depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels... and these shall go away into everlasting punishment..." They were the kindest, tenderest lips that ever breathed that spoke those words. He died on Calvary's cross to save you from it.
"The sinners in Zion are afraid: fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33 v 14).
Reader, make sure that you heed the warning voice and trust in God's only Saviour, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was Jesus who said, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10 v 28).
I know that such words are not pleasant. Do you think it was pleasant for me to stand on the brink of that Basutoland ravine and to look down at the crumbling sides, the jagged rocks far below, and to think how narrowly I had escaped so horrible a fate?
The Church at Gun Hill is an Elim Pentecostal Church