A number of times during my life I have been exposed to danger, but have always realized God's protecting hand. The incidents which I shall now relate, show God's goodness and tender care for me. Truly he is a present help in every time of need, and powerful to deliver under all circumstances.
One time while I was still in the old home at Windsor, Missouri, I was alone in the house. My parents had gone on a visit about twenty miles away, and two of my younger brothers were somewhere about the farm. I was in the room before the old-fashioned fireplace. Some embers had dropped out on the hearth, and ashes had settled over them, entirely hiding them from view. Presently I knelt on the hearth before the fire and began earnestly calling on God, my calico dress resting on the covered embers on the hearth. Being entirely absorbed in my devotion, I did not know that there was any danger until the flames were going up my back. I rushed to the door, calling loudly for help, in the hope that some one would hear me and come to my assistance. My next thought was to run to the kitchen, get some water, and throw it on the fire; but the thought flashed through my mind that if I should run through the hall, the fire would get such a headway that it would burn me to death. So I called on God earnestly: |O Lord, why is it that I am left here to burn to death alone?| With all my soul, I threw myself on his mercy. Like a good, loving, heavenly Father, he brought it to my mind to go to the closed door and press my back tightly against it until the flames were smothered. Although my clothes were nearly burned from my back, yet I escaped without the slightest injury. Truly God proved himself to be my wisdom and my deliverer.
While we were attending a meeting at Sturgeon, Missouri, I was a guest at a farm-house two or three miles from the town. I had no way of returning to town the next day, except to ride in on horseback. Because of my illness in early life, I had never learned to ride on horseback. My parents would never let me try, for fear that I should have a fit, fall from the horse, and be killed. At the place where I was staying, only two horses could be spared from the work on the farm -- one gentle animal, too old to work on the farm, the other a fractious colt not sufficiently broken to be safe for a woman to ride. In fact, the young horse had thrown the young woman of the household a number of times.
There were three of us to go to town on these two horses -- two other young women and I. The old lady had asked me if I was used to riding, and upon hearing that I was not, she said I should ride the old horse. After waiting on the Lord earnestly, however, I felt strongly impressed to ride the young, unbroken animal, trusting myself in God's hands.
The Lord had assured me that he would take care of me. The old lady did not want me to ride the colt and seemed to think that I was somewhat obstinate in my decision. Finally, however, she consented.
The girls who went with me were young and mischievous, and when they saw that I did not know how to ride and was very awkward, they began to enjoy my predicament and whipped up their horse just to have fun at my expense. I felt very awkward and scarcely knew how to keep my seat in the saddle. On the way to town the girls asked me if I expected to return to the farm that evening. I said that I did not, to which they replied that they were glad because they wanted a horse apiece coming back, so that they could have a race. There had been a heavy rainfall, and in front of the blacksmith shop at the edge of town was a large mud-puddle in which a hog was wallowing as we came up. Disturbed at our approach, the big animal arose from the puddle, splashing mud and water, and making considerable noise. The gentle horse on which the girls were riding became frightened, jumped to one side, and both girls fell off into the mud. The horse on which I was riding was scarcely frightened at all. He just made a slight movement that loosened my foot from the stirrup. Some one came to my assistance until I could get down. I realized that God had protected me.
One time not long after this a brother was taking me somewhere on a mule. It suddenly came to my mind that I had not trusted God for protection and that I must do so at once as danger was near at hand. In less than five minutes, as we were going through a bit of timber, the mule got scared and began to rear up. Then he tried his best to run with me through the timber. If he had succeeded, no doubt my brains would have been knocked out against a tree. Again an unseen hand seemed to help me, and although the mule kept rearing up and trying to get away, I was uninjured.
At a few other times in my life God has marvelously protected me under similar circumstances. Once the mule on which I was riding became frightened and threw me off. For some time I lay senseless on the ground, but the mule stood still, not moving out of its tracks until I recovered consciousness and crawled away. God answered my prayer, and I was soon all right again. At another time I fell off a horse backwards on my head. A brother and sister who were with me thought that they heard my neck break, but the Lord marvelously protected me, and I was almost as well as usual by evening. At still another time my horse slipped, and I fell off, got caught in the saddle, and was dragged some little distance. At first I called for help, but the sister with me was so frightened that she could not come to my rescue, so I called on God very earnestly, and he helped me out of the dangerous position without any hurt.
Before my brother and I began our work in Chicago, while passing through that city with Brother Kilpatrick and his company, we stopped over to visit Lincoln Park. When the street-car was near the edge of the park, one of the company jumped off, saying, |This is Lincoln Park.| I had ridden so little on the street-cars that I did not know the danger of getting on or off while the cars were moving, so I jumped too, thinking that if I did not I should not get to see the park. As I jumped, I kept hold of the car and in consequence was dragged about one hundred yards. When the conductor got his car stopped, he gave me a cursing for being so foolish, but he little realized how ignorant I was. Some of our company were almost sick with fright, thinking that I was killed, but God in his mercy protected me and did not allow me to suffer serious injury.
After we had begun work in the city of Chicago, we went one day out to a little town called Naperville to visit some saints and to hold a meeting. When we came to the depot to start back, my brother found that he had left his Testament at the house where we had been staying, and he went back after it. There was a little suburban station just a short distance from the depot, and the train ran between the two. Our baggage was at the suburban station. I saw the train coming and, supposing of course that it would stop, I went across to the little station to protect our things. The train was a lightning express which did not stop at that station, and the man in charge of the crossing, seeing my danger, began to yell at me to come back. I was too far across to return, and his yelling came near confusing me, so I merely made my escape. The express was not more than a foot away as I stepped off the track.
At different times God has protected me from contageous diseases. While my oldest brother and I were out together in the work, he took the measles. I nursed him during his illness, and others were sure I was taking them. They thought they saw them coming out under my skin, but I was trusting God the best I knew how. Some of the incidents that occurred about this time were rather amusing. About the time I should have been coming down with the measles, Mother Bolds and I attended a meeting in Carthage, Mo. It was a dark night, and we had to cross a little ravine. We lost our way, got into the water, and got drenched. But no bad results came of our wetting, as I was not taking the measles at all. God had protected me.
I had my next experience of this kind at Cornell, Nebraska, when I took care of my brother George during his sickness with the measles. George was very sick. Often after giving him food or water I would find myself tasting of what was left. Then I would think, |I do not want to tempt God; what shall I do? It certainly seems I must have the affliction after being so thoughtless.| But I thought of this scripture: |If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.| I asked the Lord to verify that promise to me.
On two different nights, however, for about two hours each time, the devil seemed to come and try to impose the disease on me. It seemed that I could hear him say, |I will give you the measles; I will give you the measles.| |No, you will not,| I would say in reply. |I will not have them unless God wants me to have them. You are not going to give them to me.| I knew it was Satan that was trying to push the disease on me. The second night it seemed as though I could resist the devil no longer, and I said, |If I do not get help, I can not stand any more.| Then the Lord appeared and let me know that I should not be tried any more, and this scripture was fulfilled: |God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.| The enemy disappeared and I did not take the measles.
While in San Diego, California, a brother took George and me over the bay to Cornado Island. Before we started, God impressed me that there was danger ahead and that I should pray earnestly for protection. Thinking that I should not have time before starting, I prayed as I went. Upon reaching the island the brother went to moor the boat, and George called to him, |Are you not afraid to fasten your boat so near to the waves from the main ocean?| He answered that he thought there was no danger.
We spent a very pleasant day on the island and enjoyed the ocean air. When it came time for us to go home, I found that in walking around I had lost my scarf. The brother who was with us said he thought he knew where it was. He told my brother to hold the oars while he went to get the missing article. On his return George went to pass him the oars, but in some way one of them fell into the water. Just then the large waves began to roll in from the open sea and to fill our little boat. It looked as though death was staring us in the face. My brother saw that he could escape; but as he thought that probably the boatman and I would both be drowned, he stayed with us and did all he could to help get the oar. The boat was full of water. We were all drenched and sat there in the water until we got back to the mainland about four miles away.
Although I did not drown, yet probably the wetting would have caused my death had God not answered prayer. How good the Lord was and what a lesson I got! When God impresses us with danger, it is time to lay it to heart and to pray until we know that God has given us the protection we need.
Another incident of this kind occurred in California while we were visiting a place known as the Inner Cave. When the tide was out, people could walk round in this cave and enjoy the scenery; but when the tide was in, the cave was filled with water. We supposed that we knew the time when the tide came into the cave, but we had been misinformed. When we got out into the open air again, it was within five minutes of the time for the return of the tide. Had we remained much longer, we should all have been drowned.
God has certainly been very merciful to me. Many times has he warned me before meeting with some threatened danger, and always he has protected me from serious harm.