Organizes a Church at DeLand. Health Improves. Relapses. Starts Home. Resignation. Sells His Interest in the Guide
. Begins Writing again. Attends Two Conventions. Goes to Texas. At Home Again. Works On.
While at DeLand we gathered up the few scattered Disciples in and around the town, and organized them into a church. I felt quite confident, from the character of the material, that the enterprise would be a success. It has thus far proved to be so; they have not failed to keep up their weekly meetings to break the loaf and edify one another after the apostolic model. They now have a nice house, and have employed a preacher and given him a home among them. This is just what all churches should aim to do; all may not be able, but they should aim to accomplish it. The church is in a prosperous condition. I was able to talk to them occasionally while there.
The climate of Florida agreed with me. My cough left me in a few weeks, my appetite became good, and I got heavier than I ever was before. I went there weighing 130 pounds, and increased to 148. In good health, my usual weight was 144 pounds, and it had been many years since I weighed that. I should have come home in this improved condition but for my own imprudence. I don't blame the country, Providence, nor anything else but myself. I was passionately fond of hunting, as I have ever been. I hunted a great deal, and frequently got overheated, and took cold; sometimes got my feet wet when in the woods. Thus I had several backsets. But still I was in that condition when the time came to return home. The day before we were to start, I concluded I must have one more hunt. It had rained the night before; the sand was damp; it was cloudy, quite warm, and a strong south wind was blowing. I would get warm in walking (the sand there is very slavish to walk in), and would sit down and let the wind cool me off. I should have had more discretion; but sometimes people act with very little sense about such things. Before I reached the house I felt acute inflammation of the mucus membrane, to the bottom of my lungs. In three hours fever set in, and I was completely prostrated. I remained there about three weeks, and the doctors urged my return as the only chance of recovery. They considered that very hazardous, on account of exposure to cold; but to stay there was less hopeful. I was taken to the boat, carried on board by two men, then carried off at Jacksonville to a hack, taken to a hotel, thence to the train. I secured a good berth in a sleeper, and got through without the least trouble. I improved, every mile of the way; but as soon as I got home I went down again, and was extremely low for some time.
My dread of dying in Florida and having my wife return with my body, was such that I concentrated all my prayers to that one point. I prayed the Lord to enable me to get home, that I might die in the midst of my family. I felt and prayed that if He would enable me to reach home, He could have the rest all His own way, without any further petition. He enabled me to rally, gave a week of the best weather of the whole season, brought me home under the most favorable circumstances, and I never afterwards felt free to ask Him to restore me to health, and have never done it. It may be wrong, but I promised to let Him have the rest all His own way, and my prayers have ever since conformed to that idea.
I never could have believed, till I experienced it, that one could become so indifferent as to whether he lived or died, I saw many days, after my return from Florida, when it was a matter of perfect indifference to me; previous anxiety to get home, and the resolution to leave all the rest to the Lord, had no doubt much to do with it. I observed this, however: that as hope revived, a desire to live would arise in proportion. When there was little or no prospect, there was little or no concern.
When I was at my worst, I decided, taking my past and present condition into consideration, the medicine I was taking, the attention received, etc., that if I did not take a turn for the better by a certain day, then in three days the case would be entirely hopeless. In the afternoon of that day the change came. That evening I took some nourishment -- the first for fourteen days.
After I sufficiently recovered to be able to do anything, I was anxious to get my business arranged, with a view to death. I never expected to be able to write another editorial, and I was concerned about making some arrangement by which to get rid of the Guide and its responsibility. I was not pleased with its business management, and did not want to leave it as the property of my family, not knowing what trouble it might give nor what expense it might involve them in. And without a change in management, I knew it could never be of any profit. I wrote for Bro. Srygley to come, and I sold him my remaining half-interest. My purpose was to resign, and thus have no further connection with it. But he would not buy unless I would agree to let my name remain, with a promise to resume the responsibility of chief editor if I should ever get able; and the firm would consent to the sale only upon these conditions. So I had to sell upon those conditions, or not sell at all.
The latter part of September the company urged me to begin to write again, if it were at all possible, even if it were only a few paragraphs each week. They said the impression everywhere entertained that I would not recover, was injuring the paper very much. The people were losing interest in it. They insisted that I should counteract that feeling as much as possible. Under this pressure, though confined to my bed and suffering every hour, I began writing, the first of October, and never after missed a week. That winter I stayed at home, and was not out of my room for eight months. The last of August I started to Midway, to see Dr. Lucy. I got as far as Louisville, and could get no further. We dispatched for the Doctor, and he came down. After resting a few days I got home, the last of August, and I was not out of the door again till the last of April. During that winter I did a large amount of writing, besides my weekly work on the Guide.
June 10 I went to Louisville to attend the International Sunday-school Convention, but was able to get out only a few times. I attended the State meeting at Paris, but was able to take no part. I greatly enjoyed meeting with the brethren, and hearing them concerning the things of the kingdom of God. These convocations are seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
The first of October we went to Mason, in South-west Texas, to spend the winter. Here, as at De Land, it looked as if the hand of Providence guided us. We knew no one there, but we found some of the dearest and best friends of our lives. They had been taking the Guide, and, in competition with several other places that wanted us, made such a liberal offer that our trip cost us nothing. They seemed to anticipate all our wants, and find great pleasure in supplying them. The Lord has always blessed me with many good friends -- more than I deserved. I have felt, for a number of years, that I was greatly overestimated, and it has been a source of no little humiliation. I should have quit editorial work several years ago, and lived in obscurity here at my retired home, if I could have done so. I appreciate the good opinion of my brethren, to the extent that I think it is merited; but to realize that I am not what I am thought by some to be, is a great mortification.
I am now at home enjoying the company of my family, the quiet of my home, with every want anticipated and supplied by a devoted wife and children, pleasantly, though in much feebleness, doing my work on the Guide, and putting in my spare time in other writing. I find my greatest pleasure in being about my Father's business. I must be employed. I expect to thus work on till the Master says, |It is enough.|
MT. BYRD, Ky., June 13, 1885.