I have just experienced one of the most incredible books ever written. What is so awesome is that it was actually written in 1896, as a series of articles in the “Chicago Advance,” a religious weekly publication. The copy that I possess is much newer however, it was published in 1935. It is the complete authorized edition, “In His Steps, What Would Jesus Do?” by Charles M. Sheldon.
A tramp comes to the door of Rev. Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church in the town of Raymond, asking for work. The pastor, who has been interrupted as he is trying to finish his Sunday Morning Sermon, decides he really can’t help the man, and sends him on his way.
The sermon that Rev. Maxwell has written is entitled, “Following Christ.”
The following Sunday, the service is interrupted by none other than the man who had come to the pastor’s door. Gaining an audience he explains his lot, and then asks the question, “What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?” “What do you mean when you sing “I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way?” Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and trying to save lost, humanity just as I understand Jesus did?” “What do you mean by it?” Then shortly afterward the man dies due to his condition.
This seed, however fallen to the ground, now grows in the soil of the heart of Reverend Henry Maxwell, and blooms into a proposal to the congregation of the First Church of Raymond, a proposal that Rev. Maxwell says, “…is something which ought not to appear unusual or at all impossible of execution, yet will be so regarded by a large number….” “I want volunteers from the First Church who will pledge themselves earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ And after asking that question, each one will follow Jesus exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result shall be.”
Oh what those results bring. This story is just as relevant today in the year 2012, as much as it was in the year 1896. Please dear friend, do not let your years on earth end, without having read this classic, for I firmly believe that it will speak to your soul with the same intensity as seen in the characters of the town of Raymond. Beware, however, for once you have asked yourself the question, you will forever be compelled to answer. WWJD will move from the plastic bracelet on your teen’s wrist to a call upon your heart. Oh that we all may hunger to suffer!!!!
Because my copy is so old, the pages were very brittle, and would sometimes crack if I turned them carelessly. This so very much reminded me of the many promises that I have made to the Lord in my life, that have been long neglected, how brittle they have become within my own heart, and how careless I have been in my own pursuit to follow Him.
This book has been also written with an eloquence that has long been lost in our modern novels. It is a pleasure and a joy to read.
“In His Steps,” has been recognized as the most popular book that has ever been written, and in 1935 over 20 million copies had been sold. The copy that I own was previously owned by a Ms. Hazel J. Wheeler, which she signed and dated 2-25-1947. It is published by Grosset & Dunlap, is 245 pages, and was proudly “Made in the United States of America.” This particular copy is considered the “Gift Edition” the first one to actually pay royalties to Mr. Sheldon, as all previous editions went into public domain due to a defective copyright.
Thank you Ms Hazel, for allowing this book to fall into my hands. It has found good ground!