January Sermon Illustrations

January 6, 2010

Cling to What Is Left

There is not a more fervid and great-hearted preacher than Robert Louis Stevenson, and he himself illustrates the Gospel he preaches. "Cling to what is left," is his message, "make the best of what remains." There did not seem to be very much left for him, but what a splendid use he made of it! His whole life was one long struggle against illness. He went to Bournemouth, to the South of France, to California, and at last to the South Seas in search of health. Many a man, stricken as he was, would have resigned himself to the invalid's life. But Stevenson refused to regard the door of usefulness as closed against him. He refused to succumb to the attacks of illness. He declined to yield to invalidism. With splendid courage, he addressed himself to his appointed task.

"I have written," he said in a letter to George Meredith, "in bed, and written out of it, written in hemorrhages, written in sickness, written torn by coughing, written when my head swam for weakness." When an attack of hemorrhage constrained him to carry his right hand in a sling, he wrote some of his Child's Garden of Verse with his left hand. When another attack left him prostrate that he dared not speak, he dictated a novel in the deaf and dumb alphabet.

When at thirty-nine years of age, writer's cramp added itself to his other troubles, he continued to write, using his stepĀ­daughter, Mrs. Strong, as his amanuensis.

The result of it all was that Robert Louis Stevenson lived as fruitful and helpful a life as almost any literary man of the last century. He has enriched the world. In spite of his incessant struggle with sickness and pain, which made his existence a kind of daily dying, Stevenson found life offered him an "open door."

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