Among those converted in the meetings was a girl a little younger than Bessie. Her name was Cora. Being an orphan and living in the home of an infidel uncle, where she had no one to understand or sympathize with her views, she often sought Bessie for counsel and advice. The uncle did not oppose his niece, but others in his family did.
As time went on, the two girls became anxious to be doing something for the Lord. While they were pondering over the matter, a company of ministers came to the place to hold another series of meetings. From them the girls learned that The Gospel Trumpet was published by consecrated labor, that the workers received no stated salary, but that they trusted the Lord for their food and clothing.
It seemed a strange story to the girls, but Cora felt that she should like to go and help in the work. Though her uncle was not pleased with her plan, yet finally, after he had investigated and had found the place respectable, he gave his consent. It was several months, however, before she expected to leave. Toward the close of this time Bessie began to feel some anxiety for her friend, and one day said to her, |Cora, do you really want to go to The Gospel Trumpet office to work? Now, if you don't want to go, God will not be pleased with your service.| |Bessie, I have lost all desire to go,| Cora answered. |It seems to me that God is calling you instead of me. You could be a much greater help than I, because you have known and understood this truth all your life.|
If Bessie had received a severe blow, it could not have hurt her more. Her precious mother! How could she leave her! Many of her cherished hopes for the future arose before me. Her plan, to do all she could for her mother in her declining years, came up before her; and as she thought of it, she became very sad. When the two girls parted at the door, Bessie's heart was very heavy; and when she was at last alone, she wept bitterly. She remembered that she had consecrated to do anything the Lord might require of her, but she did not see how she could do this. For many days Bessie bore this heavy burden; and, not being strong, she began to fail in health. From appearances, she had a malignant form of quick consumption. The course of the disease was rapid, and in a few weeks she was not only confined to her bed, but seemingly very near death. Mr. Worthington desired to consult a physician, but reluctantly heeded to Bessie's earnest entreaties to let her trust the Lord. She said to her father, |I know that God would heal me, if for the best; and, if not, I would rather die.| And she added mentally, |I would rather die than to leave home.|
Bessie at last became so low that she could not be left alone night or day. As her mother sat beside her one day, holding her hand, she said: |I believe, dear, that God wants to heal you and use you for himself. I feel like asking our elder, Sister Smith, to come and anoint you with oil according to Jas.5:14, 15. I am sure God will heal you.|
Sister Smith was brought as soon as possible; but, to Mrs. Worthington's surprise, she did not offer to anoint Bessie until the next day. She said: |I can not understand this case. There is something here that seems very strange. Bessie appears to be perfectly resigned to die, but she only answers yes or no to my questions. I shall talk to her again.| Returning to the bedside, she said, |My dear, if God heals you, are you willing to leave your father, mother, and home to preach the gospel| -- but she got no farther. Bessie, with all the emphasis she could command in her weak state, interrupted, |No; I will never preach.|
|Ah! there is the point in your consecration that you have not reached,| replied Sister Smith. |You must be willing to do anything that will bring the most honor to God's name, and to work where he can get the most glory out of your service. It may be the Lord will never require you to preach; but he wants the willingness on your part, just as much as if he wanted to make a minister of you.|
It was some time before Bessie could answer; but when she did, it was to say that she would do anything, only that she must know that it was God who required it.
|God will make you to know that,| said Sister Smith; |and now I feel that everything is out of the way, and we can ask God to heal you.|
As she applied the oil and called earnestly upon God, there seemed to be a heavenly atmosphere filling the room. Bessie felt a soothing sensation passing through her body; and when the prayer was ended, she felt perfectly well, though exceedingly weak. Her strength soon returned, however, and it was not long until the Lord told her plainly that he wanted her at The Gospel Trumpet office. She remembered her consecration and felt willing in her heart to obey; but she shrank from telling her parents. For two weeks she endured severe mental suffering. She tried to gain sufficient courage to speak to her mother about the call, but her tongue refused to form the words. One day while she and her mother were in the cosy sitting-room, Mrs. Worthington said, |Bessie, I believe that God wants you at The Gospel Trumpet office and that he has used Cora's plan and your sickness to show you your duty.| Looking up through eyes filled with tears, Bessie related all that God had revealed to her. A great calm then came into her soul.
But the test was not entirely over. Mr. Worthington must be told, and -- would he be willing? Embracing the first opportunity, Bessie told him her plans and begged his approval upon them; but his reply nearly crushed her.
|Bessie,| said her father, |if you must leave us, you may go; but I have one thing to say and I mean it. If you go, you can never return; for your going is heartless indeed. I can not see why you should choose to go from your comfortable home and those who love you so dearly, and leave your mother, who so much needs your help.|
|Father, Father!| exclaimed Bessie, |Oh, don't talk that way! You know how much I love you all. You know I never wanted to leave home before; and if you won't let me return, what shall I do?|
As she stood there before her father almost broken-hearted, a sweet voice whispered, |I will be with thee; be not afraid.| The words sounded like music in her soul and reminded her of her recent decision to obey the Lord at any cost; and she said quietly:
|Well, Father, if you refuse to let me return home, it will have to be that way; but I must obey the Lord, and he has called me into his service|
|Very well,| he answered, |but remember my words,| and he left her.
Seeking her mother, Bessie told her of the interview and of her father's refusal to allow her to return home. For a moment they stood looking at one another; and then, with great tears filling her eyes, her mother said:
|Remember the words of Jesus, 'There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.' Dear, child, I know your dutiful nature, and how you long to obey your parents; but the Bible says to obey them in the Lord. When you have to choose whom you will serve, God or your parents, you must choose the Lord.|
|I will obey God,| said Bessie quietly; and she began at once to prepare to leave home.
When all was ready and the morning of departure had come, Mr. Worthington went out to prepare to take his daughter to the train. He had been very silent all the morning, but Bessie's heart was so full that she had taken little notice of his behavior. Oh, how she longed for his consent for her to return! Her mother gave her every encouraging word possible. At last they looked out and saw that the horse was ready. As Bessie picked up her last bundle, the door opened, and her father, stepping in quickly, caught her in his arms. |O my child,| he sobbed, |will you forgive me and come back as soon as the Lord will let you? I didn't mean what I said; but it is so hard to give you up. If you need anything, write to me at once and let me know about it, won't you?| and he tenderly kissed her. Bessie's heart was filled with joy, and she said that he could expect her home just as soon as the Lord would let her come.
|Read 1 Cor.10:13 and Jas.1:12 just as soon as you have time, dear,| whispered Mrs. Worthington in her daughter's ear as she kissed her again before she jumped into the buggy beside her father. Then they drove away from the home and the mother that were so dear to Bessie's heart.
Very few words were spoken on the way to town, and after a long ride Bessie found herself on the train. It all seemed like a terrible dream; but there was a sweet peace and quietness in her soul, and her father's loving words rang again and again in her ears.