While engaged in the work in Chicago I had the privilege of attending camp-meetings in a number of States. While at a camp-meeting at Grand Forks, N. Dakota, I received an invitation to attend a meeting at Hammond, Louisiana, about 1,500 miles south. For some time I had had a desire to go to that part of the country for different reasons, and therefore gladly embraced this opportunity. I went by way of Chicago, remaining at the home for about a week.
The kindness of my reception in the South gave me the impression that people in the South are very hospitable and large-hearted. I think that in this respect they excel many of our Northern and Eastern people. I found that in the South much is expected of ministers coming from the East or the North. The responsibilities of the meeting, therefore, were all that I could go through, even with the help of the Lord. It was July, and the weather was so warm that we could not use the tabernacle during the heat of the day, but had to resort to a little grove near by.
During this meeting I went twelve miles and visited my brother's grave; on this trip I also called on some saints who lived in that part of the country. I had a pleasant drive and also got a chance to enjoy some of the Southern figs which grow in those parts. Notwithstanding I was much fatigued when I returned that evening and thought I would not go out to meeting at all. Then I thought I would go for the first of the service and return to my lodging before the meeting closed, as I would be too tired to remain. But God planned otherwise. He showed me that I must trust him for strength and be prepared to preach that evening. God delivered the message through me and blessed it to the salvation of a number of souls.
Soon after the camp-meeting I returned to Chicago. As I started homeward, I found that the oppressive heat had greatly reduced my strength. Because of the heat, too, I had been tempted to drink too much ice-water, lemonade, etc. When about sixty miles from home, my heart began to fail, and I saw that unless the Lord helped me I was not going to be able to get through. I can not express to you how earnestly I called upon God. Almost every moment of the time from there on I trusted the Lord to hold me up, for it seemed that in spite of myself my heart would fail. The Lord came to my rescue. I reached my destination all right, and suffered no serious harm later.
One fall I went to the camp-meeting at Carthage, Mo. At this meeting I met some of my old friends from Maries County, Missouri, and other places, some of whom I had not met for more than twenty years. One of them was a brother whom I first met near Rolla, Mo. Seeing him reminded me of an incident that occurred in connection with his mother-in-law, old Sister Bell, at the time I was holding meetings in that part of the country. She was a large woman. One winter she slipped on the ice and came near breaking her back. The accident occurred in the middle of the week, and until the following Sunday morning she was paralyzed.
The meeting that Sunday was at the Bell home. We found her lying helpless. As we talked to her about her healing, she seemed anxious to be healed. She was a good, pure saint, and lived close to the Lord. In the prayer before preaching we were especially burdened for her and prayed earnestly that God would heal her. God encouraged our hearts. After preaching we again talked to her a little while and quoted some of the promises. I told her how God had heard and answered prayer for my healing; I had had an attack of some disease a day or two before, and God had wonderfully delivered me from it. As we talked, her faith seemed to grow by bounds and leaps. We asked her if she was willing to die. She said she was; and again, if she was willing to live if the Lord wanted her to, and again she answered yes. Then we asked her if she believed the Lord would heal her. She said she did. Her husband and oldest daughter were standing by, expecting her to die any minute. Her mother, who was a skeptic, was also present. She wanted me to persuade her daughter to take medicine. I replied that I would talk to her daughter, but did not tell her what I would say.
When I found out that the sister's faith was strong in God, I did what I could to encourage her to trust God for immediate healing. All at once, while we were talking, she said, |The Lord heals me.| Her husband, fearing that the death-struggle was coming on, went to hold her in bed. I told him to let her go -- that this was of God and that he would take care of her. She bounded out of bed and went running through the house, saying that God had healed her and that a sluice of praise was going through her soul. Her son-in-law was not present, so I hastened over to his house to tell him the good news. |Do you know what came to me first?| said he. |No,| I answered. |Well, it came to me that she was lying in bed all this time to have a chance to show off on Sunday, but I know she isn't a hypocrite, and therefore it isn't that way. But I am glad I wasn't there, for fear I should have had to believe.| When I met this brother at Carthage, Missouri, he was not, I am sorry to say, as strong in the faith as was his privilege. He had made great improvement, however. How cruel is unbelief! It makes God a liar and causes one to believe the devil.
From Carthage I went to Webb City, Missouri, where I visited friends and saints whom I had known years before. Among the number was mother Sunderland. [Footnote: Since the above statement was written, Mother Sunderland has gone to her reward.] From Webb City I went to Chanute,
Kansas, and visited two saints, old friends of mine who needed encouragement. While at Chanute I ate something that did not agree with me. I partly recovered, and then went on to Neosho Falls, Kansas, where I remained for two weeks and held a few services. As I still had severe sick spells, I sent for prayers to The Trumpet office and the saints in Kansas City and Chicago. The sister with whom I was staying held on to God, pleading the promises in my behalf like a hero, and with such importuning faith that I was soon able to pursue my journey.
I made my next stop at Kansas City, remaining there for nearly a month, I think. When I first arrived at that place, I was quite weak. I did not fully comprehend how sick I had been. Bro. James Peterman, who had charge of the home, was called away the first Sunday after I arrived, and so I had charge of both services. I walked three-quarters of a mile three times that day and preached twice. The next day I walked a mile and a half, most of the way up hill. My exertions proved entirely too much for me, and I endured some rather severe suffering. My body was badly worn out, and as a result my mind got into a sad, discouraged mood. My meditations were something like this: I shall soon be getting old and helpless, and not able to do much in the work. If I live, it will not be long until I shall be a burden upon some one else.
It was a late hour before my nerves got sufficiently quieted so that I could rest. The next morning I had a dream. I saw a little child about two years old playing on the floor. Some one came by and stepped on the little one's fingers, and it began to cry with pain. His father came along, took him up in his arms and caressed him, and very soon the pain was all gone, and the little fellow was all right again. It seemed that the father had such love and pity for the child that I felt the effects of it in my own soul. When I awoke I said, |Lord, what is there in this dream for me?| I realized that no doubt God had permitted it for my good. Immediately this scripture came to me: |Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.| The Lord seemed to say to my soul, |Now I want to pity you.| I accepted his kindness as best I knew how.
I thought I had gotten out of the dream all the benefit that the Lord had in it for me; but when I went to rise and dress myself, God spoke again, saying, |Don't be in a hurry. I want to have a chance to pity you.| Then he kept bringing to my mind his goodness in a way that touched the right spot, covered my need, and at last I was permitted to arise and dress. After I was dressed the following words came to me: |He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are but dust.| The dream was still so visible before me. I could still see the father pitying his child, and I felt the strength of that pity in my own soul. It was so real that I comprehended as I never had before in my life, something of the depths of God's pity for his children. Had it been some person dealing with me, he might have said, |Oh, you didn't need to let the cloud come over you. You didn't need to have the blues in this way.| But instead of speaking to me in that manner, God just poured out his pity until he chased all the dark clouds away, until his presence filled the vacancy, until he satisfied every longing of my soul.
Dear ones, we have a merciful high priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Therefore he is able to succor them that are tempted. Do you not think he will do to trust? Then, let us trust him and not be afraid, though the clouds seem dark and lowering. God will do to trust in the storms and tempests of life the same as when it is calm -- only during the storm he will have a better chance to reveal his mercy, his goodness, and his power.
After being with the dear ones in the Kansas City home for nearly a month, I returned to Chicago. Upon my arrival in the city I found that my body was quite run down. Yet God enabled me to do quite active service. No doubt, however, I went at times when, if I had consulted the Lord more carefully, he would have said rest. I was not able to be nearly so active as I had been in the past, and God seemed directing me to take a change, as city-work means constant activity. About a year after my former visit, I again went to Kansas City to visit the work there for a season, remaining there for about three months. I enjoyed the work there very much, although I could take on but little responsibility. God blessed my efforts.
In Kansas City I saw in operation the method of working through the circulating library and cottage-meetings. They had quite a number of the different books printed at The Trumpet office. These are loaned in various parts of the city by the workers from the home, who visit the homes, talk with the readers, take up the books that have already been read, and loan new ones. The reading of the books often opens the way for cottage-meetings, which are held by the workers and young ministers from the home. The holding of these meetings serve two purposes; namely, getting the truth to the people and affording an opportunity to the young ministers and workers to get experience in gospel work.
After being in Kansas City a time, I went to see some old friends at Kingston, Mo. God led us to have two or three services a week for about two weeks. After about two weeks two of the sisters from the missionary home in Kansas City were sent for, and we had a two weeks' meeting.
While I was at Kingston, God in different ways gave me much needed encouragement. One day a sister was giving her adopted daughter some good advice on the subject of marriage. Among other things, the sister told the girl that if she married in God's order she would have some one to love her and care for her in her old age. The enemy took advantage of this to hurl a dart at me, because I was growing old, might soon become helpless, and had no one to sympathize with or care for me. For a time everything seemed dark, as though God had let me see certain things and had then veiled his face from me. I wondered why this was. I meditated: |Well, I have obeyed the Lord, have done what he wanted me to do. He certainly will not forsake me now. If I should live to be old and helpless, he will not let any serious thing come on me, because I have been obedient.|
About this time God spoke to my soul, calling my attention to the thirty-seventh Psalm, third and fourth verses: |Trust in the Lord, and do good.| Now, this was my part. This is what God required of me -- to trust in him and do good. Then came his part: |So shall thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.| His part was to see that I had a place to stay and sufficient food. The scriptures that he brought to my mind at that time have not lost their sweetness and power even to this day.
I can not tell you how precious these special lessons of God have been to me; how they have helped my feet to press the everlasting rock, He is a covenant-keeping God, and his Word is true and forever settled in heaven. Well might the Psalmist say, |I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.| Never again has the enemy dared to tempt me in this way.
Praise the Lord! Truly he is all that we take him for by faith. |All things are yours.| |Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.| Will he not with him freely give you all things? The Father gave the Son, heaven's best gift, and did he leave out the minor gifts? Nay, verily, he will fulfil every promise to the letter if we meet the conditions. It was Joshua who said, I think, |Not one of these good promises has failed.| Neither have any of them failed any of us who put our trust in Him. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word will stand secure. |Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.|
|Even down to old age, all my people shall prove,
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
They'll still like lambs in my bosom be borne.|
After being in Kingston one month, we came to Kansas City, remained a short time, made a call some distance out to pray for the sick, and on my return to the city had urgent word to come to Chicago, as my mother was needing my attention. After a short stay in Chicago I went to the camp-meeting at Anderson, Indiana, and enjoyed the feast there. Then I went out in the country near Summitville, Indiana, for a little rest and recreation. I was at Summitville about five weeks and during that time assisted Bro. N. S. Duncan in a series of meetings that God blessed and owned.
Shortly after this I felt led to go to Iowa a few weeks to be what help I could to a dear sister who was going through some deep trials. Her difficulty seemed to be mainly self-accusation. In other words, she had set her spiritual standard so high that she could not live up to her own ideal. Like nearly all people who undergo that difficulty, she was good at heart, but the struggle to get out of her difficulty was severe. God came to her help, gave her victory over her trials, such as she had never been able to have before. She has never been troubled again in the same manner, and she is now firmly established in the way of the Lord.
Some of God's dear little ones who are very conscientious, sometimes look upon the Lord as a severe father. It seems to them that he, like Pharaoh, wants them to make brick without straw, to gather stubble. With this idea of God in mind, they have a hard time and fail to see him as a good, kind, loving heavenly Father, one whose heart is overflowing with mercy and compassion for his dear tried children, ready to make a way for their escape. In fact, if they could but see it, he has already made a way of escape and wants to help them into it just as soon as they will let him. His promises cover the need of every one. If taken and belived, one promise of itself is sufficient. |God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.|
While the fire is hottest, let us stop and think that this kind Father will not permit the flames to be any severer or the fire any hotter than is most for our good, and that he has a bright design in all that he permits to come upon us. He wants us to hold still, so that he can bring out his design in us. Let us be careful that we do not foil his plans. If we do not, not only will he be pleased, but we also shall be glad that we submitted to him.
I spent five weeks laboring with this sister. Perhaps some will think that a long time to spend on one soul, and even think the time wasted, but did you ever think how great is the value God places upon one soul? |For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?| According to the Lord's estimate, one soul is worth more than the whole world. Nor do we know how many other souls that one will bring to the Lord -- like the one woman at the well to whom Jesus delivered a message and who went and told many others. Let us be faithful, therefore, in helping souls, whether it be one or many.