‘I did so long for your soul’

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

“A worthy deacon of a church was much concerned about the soul of an infidel blacksmith who lived not far from his house. A good Christian man, he was yet unskilled in dealing with infidelity, so he determined like a wise man to equip himself for the work.

He began by reading Tom Paine’s works; then he studied Bradlaugh; and finally he looked up Ingersoll. At last the day came when he felt himself equipped.

He went down to the forge, and there was the blacksmith. After a few words of introduction, he said: “I hear you are an infidel.” “Yes, I am an infidel, and I should like to see the man who could beat me!” “Well,” said the deacon, “I think I can.”

The controversy began, and it was not long before the deacon was hopelessly beaten. It is not everybody who can argue with an infidel on his own ground! The poor deacon looked at him with a tear on his cheek, and said: “Oh, man, I did so long for your soul!”

He went back home and said to his wife: “Wife, I’m afraid I’m only a bungler, a kind of blot on God’s work!” He and his wife knelt down and confessed their sin and shortcoming, and prayed for the blacksmith.

At last, in the evening, the deacon said: “I will go and see the blacksmith again, and let him see that I have no ill-will.” When he came near he looked through the casement, and to his amazement saw the blacksmith and his wife kneeling in prayer. It was not difficult to go in. “What is the explanation of this?” he asked.

“Well,” said the blacksmith, “it was not your arguments; I knocked them into a cocked hat. did I not? But when you looked at me and said. ‘Oh, man, I did so long for your soul,’ I said to my wife, ‘I never heard anybody say anything like that before, and I have been calling on Jesus Christ to have mercy on me.‘ ” —“London City Mission Magazine.” Quoted from The Christian Workers Magazine; Vol. 16, September, 1915.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13

How would you answer this question?