Unawares by Emma A. Lent

They say the Master’s coming to honor the town today,
and no one can tell at whose house or home the Master will choose to stay.
But I thought as my heart beat wildly, what if He would come to mine?
How I would strive to entertain and honor this Guest Divine. 

So, straight I turned to toiling to make my home more neat –
I swept, and vacuumed, and dusted, and dressed it with flowers sweet.
I was troubled for fear that the Master might come ‘fore my work was done;
So I hustled and worked the faster, and watched the hurrying sun. 

But right in the midst of my duties a woman came to my door.
She came to tell me her troubles, my comfort and aid to implore.
But I said, “I am sorry, but I cannot help today;
I’ve got greater things to tend to.” And the woman turned away. 

But soon there came another, a cripple, thin, pale and gray,
and said, “Let me stop and rest a while in your home, I humbly pray.
I’ve traveled far since morning; I’m hungry, faint and weak;
My heart is full of misery, comfort and help I seek.”
I said, “I’m truly sorry, but I cannot help today;
I look for a great and noble Guest.” So the cripple went on his way. 

The day moved onward swiftly, and my tasks were nearly done;
A prayer was ever in my heart that the Master to me might come.
In my mind, I sprang to meet him, to serve him with utmost care,
when a little child stood by my side, with a face so sweet and fair –
Sweet, with the marks of tear-drops; his clothes were tattered and old;
a finger was bruised and bleeding, his poor little feet so cold.
I said, “I am sorry for you. You are surely in need of care;
but I can’t stop to give it. You must hasten on elsewhere.”
At my words a shadow crept over his blue-veined brow,
“Someone will feed and clothe you, son; I’m just too busy now.” 

At last the day was ended. My work was over and done.
My home was swept and vacuumed; and I watched in the dark alone –
Watched – but no footsteps sounded. No one passed by my gate.
No one entered my cottage door. I could only pray and wait.
I watched ‘til the night had deepened, and the Master had not yet come.
He had entered another’s door, and gladdened some other home. 

My labor had been for nothing. I bowed my head and wept.
My heart was sore with longing; but in spite of it all, I slept.
Then the Master stood before me, his face was grave but fair;
“Three times today I came to your door, and craved your pity and care;
Three times today you turned me away, unhelped and uncomforted;
the blessing you sought is now lost, and your chance to serve has fled. 

“Oh, Lord, dear Lord, forgive me. How could I know it was Thee?”
My saddened soul was so ashamed, as I began that wretched plea.
He spoke again, “The sin I pardon, but the blessing is lost to thee;

For in comforting not the least of these, you have failed to comfort Me.

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4 Responses to Unawares by Emma A. Lent

  1. Jay G says:

    My some bought a book of poem for 1936 and found this poem typed on a very old piece of paper with some hand written corrections. I found a record were a student recited this poem in 1894. Anybody have any idea when this was written or any other history connected with it?
    Thanks

  2. Betty Landreth says:

    I memorized this poem when in fifth grade when I was nine years old,and recited it several times for various groups.
    The thought has stayed with me for the 80 + years since then. A good lesson for all of us.

  3. Betts C says:

    I just came across the same poem typed on paper so old it’s yellowed and fragile……it was folded in a 1928 diary of my great grandmother. I haven’t found much info the author either. But a very nice find to run across all these years later.

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