Georgia Davenport McCain
Published by Ron McCain at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Ron McCain
Shakespir Edition License Notes
Thank you downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied, and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to your favorite ebook retailer to discover other books by this author. Thanks you for your support.
Originally printed 1979 by Old Paths Tract Society, Inc., Shoals, Indiana, 47581
To my husband, Carl,
To my children Ronald and Dolores, Danny and Mary, Donna and Ken, Jackie, Kenny, Randy, and Barry.
To my grandchildren Allison, Ryan, Carmen and Kimberly.
Also, dedicated to the memory of my grand-baby, Nathaniel Keith McCain who departed this life at the tender age of four months.
And to the memory of my beloved parents, Bill and Artie Davenport. The publishing of this book was made possible through the money inherited from my parents.
EXCERPTS FROM READERS
I would like to tell the world what God and your book has done for me. Praise the Lord! It made me stop and realize there is a God and He truly loves me, regardless of the sins I had committed and the wrong I had done. God was calling me for one of His children. Before I read this book, I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart, at times I even hated myself. Just as I put the book down, I had a strong urge to fall on my knees and ask the Lord to forgive my sins and to take the hatred and bitterness out of my heart. Praise the Lord, He immediately answered my prayer. He has, also, given me a great burden for lost souls.—La.
Surprised and happy to receive your book. The Lord certainly used you in writing it. It is an interesting, emotional, and evangelistic book, very well written, and I am sure it is a blessing to all who read it. I am interested in ordering some more copies. -- Alaska
A wonderful message for both young and old. Sure it will be a blessing to many people. -- Tenn.
My grandmother taught me you could live above sin in this life. Your book has enlightened me in this matter.—La.
Unless you truly loved the Saviour, you couldn’t have done such a book. How we enjoyed it.—Fla.
Have read your book twice and found it very enlightening.—Wyoming
We all have our problems and I am no exception. Your book came to me at a time I was depressed and so unhappy. I received a real blessing from it.—Okla.
Enjoyed your book thoroughly. I want five more copies.—La.
The teaching on holiness is excellent.—Ind.
Believe God has ordained the writing of this book for his people who are in troubled waters.—Ohio
I sat up late to finish your book. I cried, prayed and shouted as I read it.—La.
Your book was really good. Has a good lesson in it and I’m sure that everyone who reads it will get some benefit from it.—S.C.
The true message of salvation is in this book. I want to see it promoted.—Fla.
I did so appreciate your book. I only laid it down twice before I read it all. How did the Lord give you strength to write such a good book after raising such a large family? It is amazing. I could see myself in several of Dave’s affairs. You didn’t have me in mind when you wrote this book, did you?—Texas
Very profitable reading.—Calif.
A very swell book and gets a message across very nicely.—Okla.
What a blessing your book was to me and my husband! We are interested in getting more copies for our unsaved loved ones.—La.
Thanks for the copy of your book for our church library. My son and a friend have read it and they really liked it. I’m so thankful for the message.—Ark.
I’ve heard many good remarks about your book. God is really using it.—Fla.
Presents the plan of salvation clear.—S. C.
Read your book through in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll try to promote it among the families in our church.—Okla.
My husband never reads fiction but he sat up late and read this one. He’s really promoting it.—Pa.
Could not put it down until I finished it. Real good.-La.
We agreed to use your book for a part of our yearly youth Reading Course. Each year we recommend four or five books for the spiritual edification of our youth and sell them as a package to each youth society. I am heartily recommending it to our youth for two reasons, one is the danger of not obtaining holiness of heart and the other is the need of more personal workers on a one-to-one basis. The book is well written and I’m sure will continue to bless many lives.”—Pa.
Finished reading your fine book. It has an evangelistic message that is up to date and practical. Its message is desperately needed by thousands today, a 10,000 or more circulation among the various holiness churches.—Ariz.
The story is so true to life. It holds you in suspense all the time. I really enjoyed reading it. The clear guidance into sanctification is the best I’ve read and helped me a lot. My copy will be passed on to others as the Lord guides, and pray with me that many will be brought to a better understanding and to the blessing of sanctification.”—Florida
The second hand moved slowly around the clock, marking off the minutes. One, two, three, four, five. Dave kept his eyes on its movement. The drops of rain falling on the ledge outside his window seemed to keep time with the ticktock of the clock.
“I wish it would stop raining,” he said aloud to himself. He thought that perhaps the sun shining through his window might help to brighten his spirits.
Reaching over with his left hand, he turned on his radio. The beat of the jungle-type music matched the wild beat of his heart. Listening a few minutes, he decided to change stations.
“Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright,” a young tenor voice rang out in the stillness of the room. Soft organ music accompanied the singer.
“There is nothing calm or bright for me,” Dave scoffed as he snapped off the radio.
“Ouch!” He had moved his leg too much and a pain shot through his whole body. “What a mess to be in!” He spoke aloud again but there was no one to hear him. What difference did it make if he chose to talk to himself? For that matter, what difference did anything make? As far as he was concerned, life for him was just one long, monotonous ordeal. He looked at his bandaged right arm lying limply by his side, on to his broken leg covered with a cast, then to the other leg swathed in bandages. His head ached, and his heart felt as if it would break.
“Oh, come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” the young melodious voices of a church group resounded in his room. He covered his head with a pillow attempting to shut out the sound.
“I wish they would get lost,” he grumbled.
He did not want to think of Christmas. Oh, if he were only capable of producing a mental block so that he would never have another thought of Christmas. “Joyful and triumphant, indeed!” he sneered. “Don’t I have lots to be joyful over!”
His door opened and a nurse entered his room.
“Good morning, Mr. Maddox. How are you feeling today?” Mrs. Lucas’ cheery voice irritated him.
“Just like I felt yesterday and the day before,” he retorted. “How do you expect me to feel all wrapped up like a Christmas package?”
There it was again! Christmas! Everything was a reminder of Christmas. He turned his face to the wall hoping Mrs. Lucas would leave, but no, she had medicine for him. She poured a glass of water and offered it to him. “Here, Mr. Maddox, swallow these capsules.”
Reluctantly, he obeyed. Mrs. Lucas straightened his pillow and top sheet, watching him solicitously as she made him comfortable. It appeared to Dave that she wanted to say something, but somehow words failed her and she turned to go.
“Mrs. Lucas,” Dave’s voice was gentler now, “what about Carol? I have a feeling something is wrong. The doctor is trying to keep something from me, isn’t he?”
“Didn’t Dr. Shepherd talk to you about her, Mr. Maddox?”
“Very little. He only tells me not to worry but to concentrate on getting well. Why can’t I see her?”
Mrs. Lucas laid her hand on Dave’s good one. He noticed a tear trembling on her eyelash as she spoke. “Mr. Maddox, you’re lucky to be alive. My! If you could see that car you came out of, you would wonder how you have even this one good arm. Now, you must be patient. Your wife is getting the best treatment available, but she’s having a rough time, too. It will take time.”
“Could I send her a note?”
“Now, Mr. Maddox, you can’t write a note with your left hand, can you? Cheer up! Tomorrow is Christmas. Here, let me open your door so you can hear the lovely Christmas carols. A youth group from one of the local churches is singing for us.” She started for the door.
“No!” Dave’s bottom lip curled in a sarcastic gesture. “Leave my door shut. I hate Christmas carols. In fact, I hate Christmas. Period!”
The look on Mrs. Lucas’ face was one of sympathy as she left the room, being careful to close the door behind her.
“Christmas carols, indeed!” Dave scoffed. “Wouldn’t they have a soothing effect on my jagged nerves?”
Once again, memories overwhelmed him as he lay helplessly on his pillow. The wedding was everything one could dream of. How beautiful Carol had looked in her lovely wedding gown as she walked down the aisle on her dad’s arm. That red hair with its beautiful luster was not completely concealed under the gauzy, white veil. She had smiled in her own special way as their eyes met. Dave’s heart had pounded as he stood proudly beside her loosening his tie in a nervous gesture. He yet recalled the minister’s words. “We are assembled in the sight of God and in the presence of these witnesses to unite this man and this woman in the holy bond of matrimony.” Dave closed his eyes tightly. How he longed to push these thoughts aside, but they swarmed through his mind like bees around a honey comb. “Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife to live together after God’s ordinances in the holy state of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her as long as you both shall live?”
Dave groaned. Oh, the bliss of that moment! But now the uncertainty about Carol mingled with his own helplessness turned those happy memories into bitter heartache. “I pronounce you man and wife together in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”
The wedding was over. A few hours later, as Dave and Carol headed for the mountains to spend their honeymoon, Dave had put his arm about her shoulder and drew her close. Their mutual love for each other and joy in belonging to one another for life was beyond their comprehension.
“Next week Christmas will be here, Carol. I don’t have o go back to work until after the first of the year. Just think, two whole weeks together, two wonderful weeks of bliss.” Glancing at her, he had added, “My darling, how does it feel to be Mrs. Maddox?”
“Wonderful, Dave,” she had whispered, snuggling closer to him and resting her head against his shoulder.
Perhaps if he hadn’t been noticing how the bright sun flashed on that shiny, red hair against his shoulder he would have seen the danger sooner. He could only wonder if it could possibly have been soon enough. Had the trucker fallen asleep? Did he have a mechanical failure? Whatever the cause, when he looked up a big transport truck was heading right at him. Frantically he had jerked the steering wheel, but it was too late.
Now, here he was as helpless as a baby. And Carol, his precious Carol, was she even living? He had been unable to obtain any information whatsoever. Why, oh why, did all this have to happen just when he thought nothing could mar their happiness?
These unforgettable memories brought pain to his heart which seemed unbearable. “Life is cruel,” he murmured, “very, very cruel. Why was I ever born?”
Exhausted from mental fatigue, he soon fell into a fitful sleep. The rain had ceased when he awoke, but a gloominess still permeated the atmosphere. Dave lay motionless in a deep depression. His door was slowly pushed open.
“Mr. Blake,” he gasped.
His visitor walked to his bedside and lovingly laid his hand on Dave’s good one. He attempted to speak but choked up each time he tried. The tears rolled down his haggard cheeks and he wiped them away with his handkerchief. He was the picture of a broken man.
“I’m a mess, am I not, Mr. Blake?” Dave commented, groping for something to say.
“Yes, Son,” he managed to answer. “But you will be all right. You’re lucky to be alive.”
“Have you seen Carol?”
Mr. Blake nodded in the affirmative.
“How is she, Mr. Blake? How is my Carol?” Dave asked excitedly. Maybe he would learn the truth at last.
“She’s resting, Son,” he choked.
“Has she asked for me?” he ventured further.
“Not yet, Son. But don’t you worry now. Just get well soon and I’ll take you home with me. Ma and I will give you the best of care.”
“Thanks, Mr. Blake, uh, Dad,” Dave answered. “I’m glad to be married to a girl with such wonderful and considerate parents.”
“I must go now, Son. I’ll see you later. Hurry and get well.” He patted Dave’s shoulder and hurriedly left the room. Had Dave been able to see the scene outside his door, it would have further crushed his spirits.
“Here, Mr. Blake, drink this,” Mrs. Lucas was saying as Mr. Blake gave vent to his feelings and cried like a child. “Brace up now, Sir. You must try to be brave for Dave’s and your wife’s sake.” Wiping his face with a damp cloth, she asked, “Is there any change in your daughter’s condition, Mr. Blake?”
“None at all, Ma’am, none at all.” Taking his handkerchief he blew his nose, wiped his eyes, and with stooped shoulders started toward the elevator. Stopping after a few steps he turned around and spoke to Mrs. Lucas, “Thanks for your kindness, Ma’am, to us and to Dave.”
“You’re so welcome, Mr. Blake. I wish I could do more.” As the elevator door closed behind him she turned to an aide and remarked, “Poor, dear man! What an awful tragedy! Such young lives wrecked.” She sighed, then added, “I tell you, Mabel, this gets on me till I can’t sleep at night. Did you know they had just gotten married and were going on their honeymoon?”
“Yes, Mrs. Lucas. Everybody’s talking about it. Makes you wonder why things like this happen, doesn’t it?”
“One can’t help but wonder, Mabel, but I guess it’s not for us to question.”
“And to think that tomorrow is Christmas. I wonder if we could do something special for Mr. Maddox to sorta cheer him up a bit.”
“Save your energy, dear. He is very bitter and nothing we could do or say would be appreciated right now. Well, I’d better run. Merry Christmas, Mabel!”
“Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. Lucas.”
“Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven
And nature sing.”
Dave opened his eyes. Christmas morn had dawned. The little cabin up in the mountains was to have been decorated with holly and mistletoe today, but instead it would be empty and deserted, cold and lonely. Dave’s heart ached even worse than his leg that was giving him such pain. If he could only see Carol or hear her voice or know in some way that she would be all right. He wondered why she had never asked for him. Wasn’t she able to talk? He shuddered to think such a dreadful thought.
“Carol,” he whispered her name. “My sweet wife, Carol. I’d give anything to see you.”
“Time for breakfast,” the aide smiled down at him. Dave could not help noticing how neat she looked in her crisp, blue uniform.
“I don’t want any breakfast,” Dave said gruffly. “Take it away.”
“Oh, come now, Mr. Maddox, this is a good Christmas breakfast. Look at this nice, juicy ham.” She stuck the fork into it, breaking it apart to show its tender quality.
“Take it away, I said,” his voice was getting louder.
She opened her mouth to protest further, but the look on his face caused her to say, instead, “Yes, Sir,” and meekly pick up the tray and leave his room.
Dave’s hand was shaking as he reached for a cigarette. He fumbled around until he got it lit, took one draw and snuffed it out in the ash tray.
“I feel nauseated,” he mused. “If I could only get up, I’d find out about Carol. There is something badly wrong and no one is fooling me.”
His nerves were taut. He felt he would fly to pieces. The suspense seemed unbearable. There must be some way he could find out the truth, but how?
He lay looking at the ceiling, breathing heavily. Momentarily his attention was drawn to a small grey spider suspended on its web just over his head. He wondered how the cleaning woman could have missed seeing it for she kept his room spotless. As he watched the little creature, his door opened and Dr. Shepherd entered.
“Good morning, Dave, and Merry Christmas!”
“Morning,” Dave grunted, his eyebrows puckered in a frown.
“How are you feeling today?” the doctor asked.
“Same as ever. How long do you think I’ll be here?”
“Quite a while, my boy. Quite a while.”
“Doc, about Carol?”
Dave noticed Dr. Shepherd flinch as he asked the same question he had asked daily.
“Didn’t I tell you not to worry about your wife, Dave?” Dr. Shepherd spoke kindly. “You need all your strength for your own recuperation.”
“Yes, Doc, I know. You’ve told me not to worry time and time again. But tell me, if it were your wife, would you be concerned?”
“Well, when you put it like that, Dave, I guess I’ll have to answer truthfully and admit I would be concerned. Here, let me take a look at this old gash on your forehead. Looks like it is trying to get infected.” Turning to the nurse, he added, “Clean it out good, Mrs. Lucas. I’ll leave an order for an antibiotic. Be sure he gets started on it right away.”
“Yes, Dr. Shepherd.”
“Is Carol hurt pretty badly, Doc?” Dave tried once more to get some information concerning his wife.
“I’m afraid so, Son. Do your legs give you much pain?”
“Sometimes, but the shots help. Is Carol conscious, Doc? “
“Your wife is resting, Dave. Now you do the same. I will see you tomorrow.”
As he left the room, Dave realized that his questions had been evaded again.
Time continued to drag by, one long, dreary day following another. Many hours were spent merely watching the second hand moving around the face of the clock. What else was there to do? Time meant nothing as far as Dave was concerned. The only thing he lived for was the time when he could be up on crutches so he could see Carol.
One morning Mrs. Lucas came into his room with a big smile. “Surprise for you today, Dave.” He was “Dave” to everyone now.
“Carol! I get to see Carol!” he exclaimed excitedly. The eagerness revealed in his expression and voice caused the nurse’s smile to fade.
“I’m sorry, Dave, to get your hopes all up about Carol, but that’s not my surprise.” Looking over her shoulder, she called, “Hey, James, this way, right here.” Turning back to the patient she said, “Look, Dave, a wheel chair. We’re going to get you out of that bed today. Isn’t that wonderful?”
The orderly pushed the chair to Dave’s bedside. Instead of Dave’s face lighting up with a big grin as was expected, the same sad and sullen look was seen.
“Hi, Dave,” the orderly greeted. “This ought to make your spirits soar, to be able to get out of bed after all this time.”
“It’s better than staying in bed, James, but nothing can make my spirits soar until I can see my wife and know she’s all right.”
“I understand how you feel, Sir. Here now, help yourself all you can and we’ll have you up and in this chair before you know it. Easy there, boy. Not too much weight on that bad leg. Watch it! Here, put your arm around my shoulder and let me bear your weight. Mrs. Lucas can help steady you. There now! How’s that?”
“I feel weak and shaky.”
“Relax a few minutes, Dave; then I’ll push you out into the hall.”
“Can’t you wheel me downstairs to see Carol? We can ride the elevator.” Dave’s pleading voice caused James to look helplessly at Mrs. Lucas.
“We will have to have orders from Dr. Shepherd before we can do that,” Mrs. Lucas came to James’ rescue. “It shouldn’t be too much longer, Dave, the way you’re improving.” She patted Dave on the shoulder. “This way, James. Wheel him out into the sun parlor where he can enjoy the sun and scenery.”
“Out we go,” replied James cheerfully.
Dave squinted his eyes as he was wheeled into the bright sunlight. It took several minutes for him to become accustomed to its brilliance, after which he began to survey his surroundings. To his left, he saw another wheel chair occupied by a young man whom Dave judged to be about his own age. A young lady sat in a chair beside him holding his hand and smiling sweetly at him. Dave quickly looked away. The anguish of his heart revealed in his face, caused James to push him to a remote corner of the sun parlor.
“There, you have a perfect view of the river from here. Look at that swift current! The old river is really churning may, isn’t it?”
Dave nodded but he really wasn’t interested. His mind was completely obsessed with one thing, thoughts of the one he loved. Would the day ever come when he would be able to see her again? In his imagination he could see himself entering her room and watching her sweet face light up with a lovely radiance as she caught sight of him. He meditated dreamily of the wonderful times they would have together once they were both well again.
The laughter of the young couple sitting on the opposite side of the sun parlor roused him from his reverie. Once again he glanced in their direction. Their devotion to one another and their obvious pleasure at being together sent a sharp pang to Dave’s heart.
“Life is unfair,” he thought. “Why should such happiness be granted to some, while others are allowed to be crushed with troubles too great to be borne?” He covered his face with his hands and in spite of all attempts at self-control, the tears oozed from his eyes, through his fingers, and dropped onto his hospital robe. He sat quietly until he could regain his composure and then said in a husky voice, “James, take me back to my room.”
“Why, Dave, you have been out here only a short while. Does something hurt you?” .
“Very much so,” he replied as the couple’s merry voices sounded in his ears.
‘‘I’m so sorry. Is it your legs? Maybe I can help relieve you. Here, I’ll stretch this one out straight a few minutes.” James caught hold of one leg and started to move it.
“It’s not my legs, James, it’s my heart. Will you please take me back to my room?”
“Your heart?” James was becoming excited. “I’ll get a doctor right away.”
“Never mind. A doctor couldn’t help my heart condition. Now, for the third time, James, I’m asking you to return me to my room.”
The look of anguish on Dave’s face and the quiver in his voice made it clear to James what Dave meant, so he meekly submitted to his request and wheeled him back to his room. Back in bed, Dave turned his face toward the wall. A deep despondency engulfed him.
He heard his door open and realized someone had entered his room, but he didn’t bother to turn his head. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder; still he made no move.
“How are you today, Son?” He recognized the voice of his mother-in-law.
“Awful,” was his only comment.
“Can I do anything for you, Dave?”
“Nothing,” he grunted.
A silence ensued as Mrs. Blake patted his shoulder and then reached over and kissed his cheek. This softened Dave’s heart, causing him to turn and look at her. Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she looked pale and worn as if she had been without sleep for a long time.
“Mrs. Blake—uh—Mom,” he ventured, “what do you know about Carol? How is she?”
Mrs. Blake’s voice trembled noticeably as she answered, “Carol is resting, Son. She doesn’t appear to be suffering. Try not to worry, Dave. Just try to get well.”
Again, Dave turned his face toward the wall. There was no use trying to get any more information about Carol. He could sense that Mrs. Blake did not want to discuss Carol’s condition.
Again, there was silence. He wished she would leave. His mother-in-law seemed to sense his feelings and once again kissed him on the cheek as she said softly, “I love you, Dave. Dad and I will be checking on you again. Take care of yourself. “
As she left the room, Dave pulled the sheet over his head and lay motionless with his painful thoughts.
“Give me a good, strong sedative,” he requested that night, “If I can only sleep, I won’t be tormented with thoughts,” he said to himself.
“Do you not sleep well with the sedative we give you, Dave?” the nurse inquired.
“I need something stronger.”
“Let me check your chart. I’m sure your doctor wants you to get plenty of rest.” She left and was soon back with the requested sleeping tablet.
“Here, swallow this and we shouldn’t hear any more from you until breakfast time in the morning.”
“I hope you’re right, Miss,” he answered as he took the tablet offered him.
“Good night, Dave. Here, let me flip off your light for you. Sweet dreams,” she added as she slipped from his room.
Dave lay back on his pillow and pulled the top sheet up around his neck. He was tired and soon began to feel drowsy, very drowsy and wonderfully relaxed. The next thing he knew someone was shaking him.
“Wake up, Sleepy Head, Are you going to sleep all day? Here’s your breakfast.”
“Huh! Breakfast? You’ve got to be kidding, What time is it?” Dave yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“It’s seven-thirty, Sir.”
“Wow! I can’t believe it. Last night was the first good night’s rest I’ve had since I’ve been here.” Though he felt refreshed in body, still there was that mental anguish, that crushing weight on his heart. He wondered how he could endure the agony through another day.
“How long before I’ll be on crutches?” he asked Dr. Shepherd as he made his morning rounds.
“Now wait a minute, Son. Let’s take one thing at a time. You have been up in a wheelchair only once and already you’re asking about crutches. It will take awhile yet.”
“Will you make me a promise, Doc?”
“And what’s that, my boy?”
“Promise me that I can go see Carol as soon as I’m up on crutches.”
Dave held his breath awaiting the answer. It was inevitable that the doctor would have to let him go sooner or later. It appeared to Dave that he was deliberately postponing his and Carol’s meeting, but he had his mind made up that he was going to see Carol when he could manage his crutches whether Dr. Shepherd let him or not.
Taking a deep breath, Dr. Shepherd answered solemnly, “Sure, Dave, you can see her when you’re up on crutches. You wouldn’t want to go down in a wheel chair, now would you?”
“Doc, I don’t care if I go on a stretcher. I want to see Carol. I can’t understand why you don’t want me to go.”
“Why, Son, you haven’t been able to go. You know that. Yesterday was the first day you have been out of bed. Now, let’s wait just a few more days and I’ll have you up on crutches and you can go see your wife.”
“Doc, do you mean it?” Dave was wild with ecstasy as he grabbed Dr. Shepherd’s hand and pumped it up and down. The old doctor was visibly shaken. Seemingly, he could not speak another word so he patted Dave’s arm and turned and left the room.
Dave seemed like a different person as he eagerly awaited the time when he could be up on crutches. He joked with the hospital personnel and sang silly little ditties as he was wheeled around in his chair. His appetite improved and the color returned to his cheeks.
“I’m amazed at the change in you, Dave,” Doctor Shepherd told him one morning; however, Dave noticed the doctor’s smile seemed forced. But he would allow nothing to mar his hopes of brighter days.
After prolonging the crutches as long as possible, they were at last brought in. Dave was so excited he could hardly contain himself.
“Remember your promise, Doc?” he greeted Dr. Shepherd as he entered his room. “See, I’m up on crutches.” He was acting like a child with a new toy.
“Yes, Son, I remember. Tomorrow you may go to your wife’s room. I will personally accompany you downstairs at ten o’clock. You get the feel of these things today. O. K.?”
“O. K., Doc, I will. You’ll be surprised how well I will be able to manipulate these things by tomorrow. And thank you so much, Doc. You have no idea how much this means to me. “
The hand that Dr. Shepherd gently laid on Dave’s shoulder trembled. “Son, don’t build your hopes up too high. You see, your wife probably will not know you.”
“What do you mean?” Dave was alarmed. “Surely she’ll know me!”
“We’ll see,” he answered sadly and turned and left the room. Had Dave imagined he saw tears in the kindly doctors eyes? He pushed the thought from his mind. He refused to allow anything to dim his hopes of the reunion with Carol. Dr. Shepherd had to be mistaken in thinking she might not know him. Why, with such mutual love between them, nothing could keep her from recognizing him, he tried to reassure himself.
Steadying himself on his crutches, he slowly made his way out into the halL “Good morning,” he greeted the first person he met which happened to be one of the aides.
“Why, Dave, how wonderful to see you up on crutches,” she exclaimed.
“More wonderful than that, is the fact I will get to see Carol tomorrow,” he announced cheerfully.
“Oh-h, the doctor’s going to let you see her?”
“Yes, at last. Well, I’ll see you later, Miss Tucker.” He carefully made his way down the hall and into the sun parlor. The crutches hurt his bad arm but he would never let the doctor know it. He was determined to learn to use the things enough to suit Dr. Shepherd. He felt weak and his legs were hurting so he found a chair and sat down.
“This is worse than I thought,” he mumbled to himself. “I thought I could simply get up and take off, but these are about the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever seen.” He looked out at the river which was much calmer today than usual. A hand touched him on the shoulder.
“How are you making it, Dave?” It was James. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. You shouldn’t try to get around by yourself. Why, if you’d fallen, you would have undone a lot of the good that’s been done for you.”
“I realize it now, James. I didn’t know how hard crutches could be to manipulate with a broken leg and a bad arm. How about helping me? I’ve got to get used to these things some way today as I’m going to see Carol tomorrow.”
A sad look appeared on James’ countenance as he steadied Dave on his crutches. “Easy, boy. Just take it slow and easy and walk up to the nurses’ station. By then, I think you’ll be ready to rest.”
With much effort and patience, Dave got through the day walking every hour up and down the hall on his crutches. His limbs ached, but his heart was light as he thought of what would be tomorrow.
Needless to say, there was little sleep for Dave that night. He lay wide awake looking out the window at the stars and counting off the minutes that seemed to drag by at a monotonously slow rate.
“Carol,” he whispered her name lovingly. Just a few more hours, and we will be together again.”
He wondered how badly she was hurt and why Dr. Shepherd had told him she would not know him. Could it be possible … ? He pushed the thought from his mind.
“She’s got to know me. Oh, Carol, my darling, I’ll die if you don’t.”
The moon now shining through his window seemed unusually bright. Dave blinked his sleepless eyes and turned his head slightly. A siren broke the stillness of the night. Soon, he heard an ambulance turning into the hospital driveway.
“Another wreck,” thought Dave. He wondered about the people involved and how badly they were hurt. The clock on the bank down the street struck two a.m.
“Eight more hours,” Dave thought. It seemed like an eternity. Toward morning he dozed fitfully.
“How did you sleep, Sir?” the aide asked as she brought his breakfast tray.
“I didn’t sleep much,” he answered.
“Too bad. You should have taken a sedative to induce sleep. “
Dave smiled warmly. “I’m about to get the best sedative that I could possibly get,” he assured her.
“Yes, today I’m getting to visit my wife for the first time since we were admitted to the hospital.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Wh … I mean, uh, that’s good. Good luck, Sir,” she stammered and backed from his room.
“What’s the matter with her?” Dave murmured, but he was too excited to think clearly. “Just two more hours,” he said as he looked at his watch, “two more long, endless hours.”
At nine forty-five, Dr. Shepherd and Mrs. Lucas entered his room. Dave was up on his crutches, impatient to be going. The doctor paced nervously back and forth across the room commenting on little, insignificant things and wiping his forehead with a handkerchief.
“Dave, my boy,” he turned and faced him, “I must tell you something. I cannot let you see your wife until you know.” He laid a trembling arm across Dave’s shoulders. These things are hard on us doctors, too, Son. We have feelings for our patients and try to spare them all the hurt we can. The hospital staff has been very cooperative, but it has not been easy keeping your wife’s true condition from you. We felt it very necessary, if you were to get well, for you not to know the worst until you absolutely had to.”
“What is it, Doc? Don’t keep anything from me. I want to know the worst.” The loss of sleep and the anxiety about seeing his wife caused Dave to look haggard.
“Dave, your wife is in a coma. She has never regained consciousness since she was admitted. You see, she has severe brain damage. We have a very faint hope that when she hears your voice …. “ His voice trailed off. Dave knew Dr. Shepherd did not want to build up his hope in vain.
“Oh-h,” Dave groaned and staggered as if he would fall.
“Steady there, Son. Here take a whiff of this.” Dr. Shepherd offered the smelling salts as he held onto Dave’s arm. “Easy, fellow. Here, sit in this chair a few moments.”
‘‘I’m all right, Doc.” Dave took a firmer grip on his crutches. His underarms were sore and his right arm ached but he refused the chair the doctor offered.
“It’s just that it’s so hard to believe that Carol won’t know me,” he continued. “Come on, let’s go. I’m ready.” He took an unsteady step forward. He was trembling; tears blinded his eyes, but he kept going. Dr. Shepherd walked on one side of him and Mrs. Lucas on the other. Silently, they made their way down the hall and pushed the button on the elevator. Dave stumbled as they stepped inside.
“Steady, Son,” the doctor cautioned as he pushed the button for the second floor.
As the elevator door slowly opened on second floor, Dave mustered up all his strength and stepped out along with the doctor and nurse. His one useful leg felt as if it would buckle under him, but he was determined to make it.
“This way, Dave. Take it easy now. Watch it, Son, you almost fell. Do you need assistance?”
“I’m fine, Doctor, just show me which room.”
An orderly, two nurses, and some aides were watching the strange procession as they passed the nurses’ station.
“Just a few more steps and we’ll be there, Dave. Can you make it?”
Dave did not answer, but kept pushing forward step by step. The doctor stopped at Room 213 and pushed open the door.
“Here we are.”
Mrs. Lucas held the smelling salts under Dave’s nose for a second as they entered the room. His father-in-law met him at the door, taking hold of his arm to steady him. Three painful steps more, and he stood at the foot of her bed.
Dave clutched at his heart as if he would faint when he saw her. Was this ghastly figure before him actually his beloved wife? She looked like a corpse as she lay motionless between the white sheets. That beautiful red hair that he had admired so much had lost its luster and beauty and was now lifeless and dull. Her once rosy cheeks were pale and hollow-looking. The deep blue eyes which Dave had thrilled to look into were sunken back into their sockets and were staring unseeing into space. Her frame was a mere skeleton and Dave would not have recognized her except under these tragic conditions. An intravenous bottle hung over her bed and a needle was stuck into her bony arm feeding the fluid into her veins and helping to sustain her slender thread of life.
Dave bent over her and with a broken-hearted moan he cried, “Carol, this is Dave.” Did he imagine he saw a flicker of the eyelid?
“Say it again,” Dr. Shepherd urged.
“Carol, my precious darling, this is Dave. Do you hear me, Carol’?” But there was no response at all.
“Oh, Doc, I can’t stand it,” Dave cried pitifully as he collapsed in Dr. Shepherd’s arms.
“Get a stretcher, quickly,” the doctor ordered. “I was afraid of this. There’s a limit to what a human can stand.”
After Dr. Shepherd had worked with him a few minutes, Dave regained consciousness and was taken back to his room and put to bed. His frame shook with sobs and he called his wife’s name over and over. “How can I stand it?” he cried. “This is worse than death.”
“Try to pull yourself together, Boy,” Dr. Shepherd spoke kindly. “This will give you a back set if you don’t brace up.”
Dave turned and glared at him. Through scalding tears, he answered, “Somehow I don’t care, Doctor. I just do not caare what happens to me now. Let me die if you want. I have nothing whatsoever to live for.”
Knowing there was nothing more he could do, Dr. Shepherd left the room followed by the faithful Mrs. Lucas.
In spite of the terrible emotional upset, the preceding weeks in which Dave had lived with such aspiration had helped to bring healing to him and soon he was discharged from the hospital. Though he was still on crutches, he had learned to handle them quite well and each day found him sitting beside his wife’s bed holding her cold limp hand in his. There had been no improvement whatsoever in her condition. In fact, it appeared that she was steadily growing worse, but Dave refused to accept this fact. She was all he had in the world and he loved her dearly; therefore, he felt she had to get well.
One of the nurses who took care of Carol was quite different from the others. She was a “plain Jane” to Dave but she was a likable person. Even though she was somewhat peculiar, she was wonderful with Carol.
“I pray for your wife every day,” she told him one day. “You see God loves you, and He is interested in your case. He has great power, even power to heal if it is according to His divine will. Do you believe this, Mr. Maddox’?”
“I guess so,” Dave mumbled and added, “Don’t call me Mr. Maddox any longer. You make me feel old, and after all, I’m only twenty-one. Call me by my first name, Dave. Everybody else does.”
“Sure, Dave,” she smiled. “How old is your wife?”
“She’s twenty-one, too. I am four months older than she is. “
“I’m twenty-one, also, Mr. Maddox—I mean Dave.” Becoming more serious and changing the subject, she asked, “Are you a Christian?”
“Huh? A Christian? Yes, I guess I am. My mother had me christened when I was a baby so I guess that makes me a Christian. “
“There’s more to being a Christian, Dave, than being christened,” she chided gently.
“Maybe so,” he answered as he stood up. Her talk on religion made him uneasy. “Well, I’ll go now and get a few winks of sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Taylor.”
“So long, Dave.”
After going outside the door, he turned and stuck his head back inside. “If you should need me any time, I have a room right across the street. They have my telephone number at the office.”
“We’ll notify you if we need you, Dave. Try not to worry. Get some rest.”
With great effort Dave made his way across the street and back to his room.
“Is that you, Mr. Dave?” He recognized the voice of the housekeeper.
“Yes, Amy, it’s me.”
“There was a man here to see you about an hour ago. Said he was from the insurance company. He didn’t want to bother you at the hospital but said he’d be back later.”
“Thanks, Amy. When he comes back, send him in. Don’t know what we would have done if we had not been so well insured. No telling how long I’ll be laid up.”
“No, Sir, it ain’ta bitta tellin’,” she answered as she walked away.
Dave lay across his bed, his thoughts in turmoil. Would Carol ever get any better? It seemed she was even worse today than she had been yesterday. Miss Taylor had talked about God’s power and His will. Just what did she mean? Why would it not be God’s will for him and Carol to live happily together? If God had power to heal, why did He let her lie there in that condition? How could he understand a God that would allow such grief and heartache. Miss Taylor said she prayed for Carol every day. Was God taking notice of her prayers? Could God do what the doctors could not do?
The next morning found him by her bedside earlier than usual. He tried to detect any sign of change, but it seemed her condition was even worse than the day before. Perhaps Miss Taylor’s prayers were not going to be answered after all.
“Good morning, Dave. You’re out early today,” the early morning nurse greeted him.
“Yes, I thought—uh—I had hoped—uh—that maybe… “
“What had you hoped, Dave?”
“That she would be better,” he finished weakly.
“I see. Yes, we hope day by day. ‘As long as there’s life; there’s hope,’ and that’s true isn’t it?”
“I guess so, Mrs. Hopkins. What time will the doctor be in today?”
“Same as usual. Dr. Dennely will be by in about thirty minutes and Dr. Shepherd checks her at about eleven o’clock. Why did you ask, Dave? You’re here every day when they come in.”
“I don’t know,” Dave replied blankly. “Doctors sometimes change their schedules and I want to be here to talk to both of them.”
Later as Dr. Dennely placed the stethoscope to her chest, he shook his head.
“What’s the matter, Doc?”
“I hate to tell you, Dave, but I believe she has grown worse since yesterday.” He laid a hand on Dave’s shoulder. “How long has it been now, Dave?”
“A month and twenty-one days.”
“I fear she will not hold on much longer. You need to prepare yourself, Dave.”
“Doc, she’s got to make it. We were just married the very day of the accident and were on our way to the mountains to spend our honeymoon.”
“Yes, I know.”
“She’s all I’ve got, Doc. Can’t you do something more than you’re doing? Isn’t there another drug or some kind of therapy you can use? There must be something else you can do, Doc. Don’t let her die. I can’t live without her.” Dave’s piteous pleas noticeably affected the doctor.
“We are doing everything humanly possible, Dave. This case is beyond our capabilities. Only a higher power could help her now.”
“You mean God?”
“Yes, God. He is your only hope. In fact, I don’t know if God can help her now, but we have done all we can.” With a compassionate look, he bade Dave good-bye.
Dave dropped onto a chair and put his head in his hands. If God could do something, why didn’t He do it? Why did He let her lie there steadily growing worse with each passing day?
“My poor, dear Carol,” he whispered. “Please get well. I love you and need you so. I can’t live without you.”
“Mind if I pray for your wife?” Miss Taylor asked that afternoon.
“I don’t care how much you pray, Miss Taylor, but I don’t think it does any good.”
The hurt look on her face showed that his words had stung, but she bowed her head and, in a trembling voice, she prayed, “Dear Father, we come to thee in Jesus’ name, knowing Thou dost have all power in heaven and in earth. We’re asking Thee to extend mercy to Dave and his precious wife in this time of need. Touch Carol according to thy divine will and touch Dave’s heart, helping him to surrender his life to Thee. Grant strength and help to all of us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!”
Dave’s heart was pounding. He had never heard anyone pray before, except at his mother’s funeral and at his wedding. He could not look at Miss Taylor for fear his look would betray what he felt in his heart. “According to thy will,” she had prayed. What if it was not God’s will to spare Carol’s life. Dave felt he just could not give her up so it would have to be God’s will to heal her.
After Carol’s parents arrived later in the day, Dave went back to his room and fell into a spasmodic sleep. The ringing of the telephone awakened him, and he fumbled around in the dark until he found the receiver.
“Hello, Dave. This is Mrs. Jones at the Mercy Hospital. Dr. Shepherd requests that you come to the hospital immediately.”
“I’ll be right there, Ma’am. “
Trembling intensely, and with his heart beating wildly, he struggled into his clothes.
What was wrong? He would not let himself think the worst, Maybe God had answered Miss Taylor’s prayer. Maybe, a miracle had happened. He would believe the best until …
In a few minutes, he was at her bedside. Glancing at his watch, he noticed it was ten minutes after ten. Miss Taylor was checking Carol’s blood pressure while Dr. Shepherd was listening to her heart. The doctor straightened up and looked at Miss Taylor with a grave expression. She checked the patient’s pulse rate and then looked helplessly at Dr. Shepherd. They both looked at Dave, then at Carol’s parents. Words were not needed; the message was clear.
The long trips to and from the hospital were over for the Blakes. Their only daughter was gone. All their hopes and dreams for the happy years ahead had vanished. Mrs. Blake sobbed in her husband’s arms. In their first moments of grief, they were oblivious of Dave’s need.
Dave stood alone, stunned. Dr. Shepherd placed his arm about him and said, “I’m so sorry, Dave, but she’s gone.” Dave could only stare blankly. He appeared not to comprehend, but in those heartrending moments by Carol’s deathbed, his blank eyes were seeing things the others could not see. He was seeing an empty life stretching endlessly ahead with no wife, no home, no love, no happiness ….
“No, no! I can’t face it,” he cried out.
“Watch him, Miss Taylor,” Dr. Shepherd whispered to her. “He seems to be in shock. Poor boy! This has been an unbearable ordeal.”
“Dave,” Miss Taylor spoke tenderly, “remember we prayed for God’s will to be done. Now you must accept God’s will.”
“But you said God could heal,” Dave protested.
“Sometimes, Dave, He does not see fit. If He healed everyone, there would never be death and the Bible says, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die.’ It’s an appointment we all must keep. I’m terribly sorry about your wife and wish I knew something I could do to ease your grief.” Her voice trembled with emotion. Dave knew she was deeply touched by his wife’s death, for he had noticed how she had taken her patient to heart. Though she was a wonderful nurse, the sympathy she now offered failed to console his broken heart.
He dropped into a chair and gave vent to his pent-up emotions which soon turned into hysteria. “I can’t live without her. She’s all I’ve got in the world.”
Pushing their own sorrow aside, the Blakes tried to comfort Dave. “We understand how you feel, Dave,” Mr. Blake said as he stroked Dave’s arm, “but we’ve got to learn to live without her. Believe me, it will get easier with time.”
“Let’s try to face it one day at a time, Dave,” added Mrs. Blake brokenly.
Dave found no comfort in their words. They held no meaning for him. His mind refused any thought of acceptance. “Oh, Doc! Couldn’t you have done something more?” he lashed out at the doctor.
“Sorry, Son, but we did everything that was humanly possible. I wish we could have done more.”
Miss Taylor realized her time of usefulness was over. As she started reluctantly toward the door, she turned and looked at Dave. “If I don’t see you any more, Dave, remember I will be praying for you.”
He nodded but did not answer. As far as he was concerned, his world had ended and neither her prayers nor sympathy could help him.
The Blakes turned to leave as Dr. Shepherd took Dave by the arm. “Come, we must go now,” he urged.
“No, no, Doctor, I can’t leave her. Oh, Carol,” he moaned brokenheartedly.
“Dave, you cannot help matters by staying here. Come on and go with me.”
Dave arose, leaning heavily on the doctor as he fumbled with his crutches. There was no strength in him.
“Oh, Doc, I’ll never see her again. I can’t bear it.” he stumbled and fell against the bed and as he touched her still, lifeless form, he became dizzy and felt himself sinking to the floor.
When he awoke, he found himself on a hospital bed. An orderly was standing by his bedside and a nurse was checking his blood pressure.
“What am I doing here?” he questioned as he tried to rise.
“Just relax, Mr. Maddox. Dr. Shepherd wants you to rest a few days. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”
“Oh, no, I won’t.” With much effort he sat up in bed. “Let me out of here. I’m going to Carol.”
“Be careful, Sir. Remember your bad leg,” the orderly cautioned.
“Hand me my clothes and my crutches. I’m getting out of here.” Dave’s voice was becoming louder.
“Please, Mr. Maddox, just lie back and relax,” the nurse begged. “The undertaker has already come for the body of your wife.”
“Then I’m going to the funeral parlor,” he stated emphatically. “Either you hand me my clothes, or I’ll get up and get them myself.”
Looking helplessly at the nurse, the orderly asked in low tones, “What am I to do?”
“Mr. Maddox, won’t you please rest until tomorrow and then you will feel more like attending the funeral?” she pleaded with him.
“I am going right now even if I have to go in this hospital garb,” he protested wildly.
“Will you wait just long enough for me to call the doctor?”
“Call whomever you will but hand me my clothes.”
Shrugging his shoulders in a helpless gesture, the orderly started for the clothes closet as the nurse left to call the doctor. Dialing Dr. Shepherd’s number, she related the episode to him. “Go ahead and let him go. There’s nothing more we can do,” Dr. Shepherd instructed. “He is in an awful condition, emotionally, and needs to be kept quiet, but we cannot force him to let us help him. Poor boy,” he added in a compassionate voice, “I wonder what will become of him. He doesn’t seem to have any family of his own to care for him.”
Upon returning to Dave’s room, the nurse found him dressed and ready to leave.
“Do take care of yourself, Mr. Maddox, and be sure to call us if we can assist you in any way,” she said kindly.
“Will you call a taxi for me?” was his only reply.
The funeral was a nightmare for Dave. Back in their home town, Carol was buried in the little country cemetery by the church in which they had been married such a short time before. As Dave stood at the foot of his wife’s grave, he felt that part of him had been buried with the one he loved. He felt like an old man at twenty-one.
“Son, feel welcome to come to us any time and stay as long as you like. Our home is always open to you,” Dad Blake invited as they turned to leave the grave which held the one so dear to both of them.
“Thanks, Dad, but I kept the room near the hospital. I still have to see the doctor several times with this leg. I’ll be going back there for now.” Dave turned away from his father-in-law’s compassionate look. He knew he would never accept the invitation because of the many memories at the Blake home. Even now he could see her standing under the apple tree with the wind blowing through her beautiful red hair. She was laughing up at him. “Carol,” he had said, “I have a secret. Would you like me to share it with you’?”
“Sure, Dave. What is it’?” she had asked.
“Are you sure you want to know’?” he had further teased her.
“Of course, Dave.”
“It will be a great surprise.”
“I like surprises.”
“Then, here’s my secret. Someone has stolen my heart. “
Her merry laughter that had followed had caused Dave’s heart to beat faster. He remembered yet how her eyes had twinkled as they looked into his and how cute she had looked with those dimples and that freckled nose. Pretending to be surprised, she had said, “Dave, I can’t imagine such a thing. Do I know her?”
“I’ll give you three guesses.”
“You’ll have to describe her,” she had said wrinkling her little freckled nose.
“Let’s see!” Dave had smiled at her as he pushed a stray strand of hair away from her face. “She’s a redhead, about five feet, two inches tall and cute as a bug in a rug.”
“I could never guess. You’ll have to tell me.”
“Her first name is Carol and her last name will soon be Maddox. Oh, Carol,” he had added tenderly as he put his arms about her and drew her close, “Three more months, just three more months until you’re Mrs. Dave Maddox. I’m too happy for words.”
“I’m happy, too, Dave, and so glad I stole your heart.”
He flinched and shook his head as the scene was relived in his memory. How could he ever live over this? If he could not find relief somehow, he felt his heart would burst.
“We’ll see you later, Dave.” It was Mr. Blake again, bringing him back to reality. Dad Blake placed his arm about Dave’s shoulder, gave him a squeeze, and whispered close to his ear, “Don’t do anything drastic, Son. Time will somehow heal. It has healed many broken hearts in the past and it will do it again.”
Dave looked at him piteously but could find no words to answer. Mrs. Blake put her arms about him and hugged him to her. There was nothing either could say for their grief was mutual. They had both lost one very dear to their hearts.
“Good-bye, folks,” was all Dave could mumble.
“Won’t you let us drive you to the bus depot?” Mr Blake offered.
“Thanks, Dad, but I’ve already made arrangements for a taxi.” Dave wanted to get away from them as quickly as possible for he was tortured by their presence, knowing Carol was a part of them.
Once inside the cab on his way to the bus depot, he gave vent to his feelings and cried hysterically.
“Whatsa matta, Sir?” the cabbie asked. “Can I do anything for you?”
Dave felt ashamed but could not control himself. He made no attempt to answer the cab driver thinking it was none of his business.
When they stopped at the bus station, he handed the driver a five dollar bill. “Keep the change,” he instructed.
“But the fare is only two and a quarter, Sir. With your trouble you may need it. Here, let me give you your change.”
But Dave had picked up his crutches and gone.
“Poor guy! I wonder what’s ailing him,” Dave heard the cabbie say aloud. “That funeral he attended musta been somebody mighty dear to him.”
It was late when Dave entered his room, closed the door, and fell across the bed. Though exhausted, both physically and mentally, he was unable to relax.
“Mr. Dave.” A light knock was heard on his door. It was Amy. He wished she would go away, as he did not care to see anyone, but she called again, “Mr. Dave.”
“What is it, Amy?”
“I’ve brought you something to eat,” she replied.
“Thanks, Amy, but I don’t want anything to eat.”
“Please, Mr. Dave, you’re going to be ill if you don’t eat.
Here’s some good vegetable soup. It will help give you strength. “
Reluctantly, Dave got up and opened the door.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Dave, of your bereavement.” The tears streaming down her cheeks touched Dave’s heart. Amy was truly sorry and was trying to do something to express her sympathy and relieve his suffering.
“Thanks so much, Amy, I appreciate your kindness so very much.”
“Will you promise to eat it, Mr. Dave?”
“I don’t think I can swallow it.”
“Will you please try?”
“I’ll try, Amy.”
Back in his room, he removed the foil and for Amy’s sake, attempted to eat the steaming hot soup. It was no use, he could not get it down. He replaced the foil, set it in the refrigerator, and lay back across the bed. Once again he visualized the scene at the grave he had left only a short time before. He felt numb with grief. Finally, from sheer exhaustion, his thoughts were blotted out by the blessedness of sleep.
Because of sad memories from the continuous sight of the hospital across the street, Dave decided to move to another part of town. He secured an apartment from a middle-aged couple by the name of Halloway. Though they accommodated him in many ways, he found Mrs. Halloway to be quite a trial to him because of her gift of gab. He could not stand her incessant talk, so he shunned her all he could.
After a few more weeks of recuperation, Dave was able to work. He soon found a job, but his heart was not in his work. His employer, having heard of Dave’s tragic accident and being an understanding man, was patient with Dave, though it made little difference to Dave whether he worked or not. He knew his boss would have been justified in firing him, for he was late many times or simply failed to report to work at all. But in spite of his indifference, Mr. Perry kept him in his employ.
The long, dreary days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, and though Dave had invariably refrained from thinking about Christmas, he was forced to accept the fact that it was once more drawing near. Time and again, he angrily snapped off the radio as he caught the first strains of a Christmas carol. But his hostility did not change the inevitability of Christmas and, upon awakening one morning, it dawned upon him that it was Christmas Eve. With a feeling of deep depression, he got out of bed, reluctantly dressed for work, drank a cup of coffee and left. His melancholy condition permeated the atmosphere about him as he half-heartedly worked on the job. His boss, sensing his trouble, called him aside.
“You can knock off at noon today, Son,” his voice was sympathetic. “Here’s a ten dollar bill. Go some place and enjoy yourself.”
“Thanks,” Dave grunted.
“Merry Christmas, Dave.”
“Merry indeed!” Dave retorted and picked up his lunch pail and left.
Having no desire to return to his lonely apartment, Dave parked his car at Fifth and Chester and with his hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat, he started walking the streets. He felt like stopping his ears as he passed a cheery group singing Christmas carols. The overwhelming memories of a year ago seemed unbearable. He turned and walked hurriedly down a side street – anywhere to get away from all the Christmas gaiety. He passed a blind man guided by a seeing-eye dog. The man was playing an accordion and singing. Dave reached into his pocket and handed him a coin. “Thank you and Merry Christmas!” the man said. Dave did not answer but hurried on. A newspaper boy stood on the next corner calling out, “Paper, paper, who wants an evening paper?” Again Dave reached for a coin and purchased a paper. Seeing a bench at a bus stop, he sat down to read, The headlines read, “Head-on collision kills two.” The article told the sad story of a young mother and son being instantly killed leaving the grief-stricken father to face Christmas alone. Dave crumpled the newspaper and threw it in the garbage can. Everything he saw or heard brought back sad memories. He felt he had to have relief or crack up. Noticing a sign “Joe’s Bar” in neon lights a block away, he headed in that direction. Hesitating at the door, he heard loud voices and music inside which caused a peculiar sensation within him. Though Dave had never been inside a bar before, tonight, he felt he had to have something to blot out the memories that were crushing the life out of him. He pushed open the door, entered the dimly lit room, and sat on the stool at the counter.
“Whataya have?” the bartender asked .
“Anything. Just anything strong enough to help me forget.” Dave answered.
“You, too, huh? Whatsa matta? Your gal friend left ya?”
“Just fix the drink and leave off the conversation if you want my business.” Dave’s face was flushed with anger.
The drink tasted terrible and burned Dave’s throat and stomach as it went down, but if it would erase bitter memories, it would accomplish the purpose for which Dave intended it.
“Give me another,” he ordered upon finishing the first. He was beginning to feel peculiar and his voice was getting louder. As he reached for the remainder of the ten dollars which Mr. Perry had so kindly given him, he noticed the dim lights in the bar seemed hazy, and the things about him seemed to be spinning.
“Fix me another drink.” Dave’s tongue felt thick. “Make it good and strong.” His head was dizzy and he felt someone take hold of his arm as he sank into oblivion.
The morning light beamed through the bars on the window. Dave blinked. Where was he? Oh-h, how his head ached.
“Hey, you over there! Where am I?” he yelled.
“You’re in jail, Bud,” was the reply.
“What am I doing here? I can’t seem to remember what happened since last night shortly after I went into the … “ He could not make himself say the word but hung his head in shame.
“I know you can’t, Bud. Most of ‘em are that way. We found you sitting on the curb bawling your heart out over somebody you called ‘Carol,’ so we brought you here to sober up. But since today is Christmas, you can go home to your Carol. Come on; you’re free. Merry Christmas!”
Dave felt sick. “Which way is Chester Street? I left my car at Fifth and Chester.”
“Come on, Bud, I’ll run you to your car. Won’t hurt a fella to do a good turn on Christmas.”
As they left the jail, the guard spoke again, “You were really soaked last night. If you drunks could see yourselves, maybe you’d cut out some of this foolishness.” He threw back his head and laughed loudly. “You wouldn’t believe how comical some of you are.”
“It was my first time,” Dave answered shamefully.
“Yup, that’s what they all say, my first time.” He laughed again. “Well, here we are at Fifth and Chester. Merry Christmas, Bud.”
“Thanks, Mister,” Dave mumbled as he opened the car door and got out. Fumbling in his pocket for his keys, he unlocked his car and got in.
Back in his apartment, he had just settled down to try to ease his aching head when he heard a knock at his door.
“Just a minute,” he called. Who could be calling on him? He never had visitors.
“Good morning, Dave. I fixed a good dinner for you. Today is Christmas and I’ve got turkey and all the trimmings.” It was his landlady.
“Thanks, Mrs. Halloway. I appreciate your kindness.”
“I know you get tired of your own cooking so I took great delight in preparing this for you.”
“Thanks again, Mrs. Halloway.” He wished she would leave as his head felt as if it would burst. He did not care to listen to her gab.
“I’ve spent many lonely hours by myself when Mr. Halloway worked out of town and I know what a lonely life can be,” she continued her conversation. “Of course, now that he’s retired, I never get lonely anymore. I wish sometimes he would get out from under my feet.” She threw back her head and laughed loud and long. Dave wondered what was so funny. “Why, I can’t hardly get my work done sometimes because he’s always in my way. You know how it goes, I have to have his meals on time besides trying to keep up all my housework. Why, it’s washing one day, ironing the next, housecleaning all through the week. Besides that I have my mending, grocery shopping, and other odds and ends. Then I get so many phone calls. You know how some people like to talk. I tell you I really keep up with all that goes on.” She laughed again. Dave felt he could not stand to hear her voice another second. He detested her gab.
“Say, did you hear about Jimmie Freller and his old lady?” Her eyes sparkled as she prepared to give out a sweet morsel of gossip.
“No, Mrs. Halloway, and I really don’t care to hear about them. Thanks again for the meal.” He started to close door.
“Oh, you’re quite welcome, Dave. I was just thinking today. ‘Now Dave needs somebody to fix him a good meal because today is Christmas,’ so I. … “
“So you fixed it,” he interrupted. “Thanks and good day.” He closed the door in her face and turned the lock. He knew he was being rude, but he had stood it as long as he could.
“Food!” he spat out the word. “Who wants food?”
His hangover lasted several days. Thinking medication would help, he dropped by the drug store to purchase something. While standing at the counter waiting for service, he heard a familiar voice.
“Why if it isn’t Dave Maddox. Hello, Dave, how are you?”
“Miss Taylor!” Dave’s mouth gaped open in surprise. “My, it’s good to see you again. How have you been?”
“Fine, Dave, and you?”
“Just existing, Miss Taylor. Life has no meaning for me,” he answered sadly.
“You shouldn’t talk like that, Dave. Life has much to offer you. Here, take this little Testament. If you will read it and open your heart to its truths, it can be a great help to you.”
“No thanks, Miss. I hardly ever read, so no use taking it.”
“Please, Dave. The Word of God can be such a help to you if you’ll only let it.” She held it out to him. He could not resist the pleading in her voice and her sincerity in desiring to help him.
“Okay. If it will make you feel better, I’ll take it.”
“Will you promise to read it?”
“No, I won’t promise you that.”
“Can I help you, Sir?” It was the clerk.
“I’ll see you later, Dave,” Miss Taylor told him and turned to go.
“Wait a minute, I want to ask you something,” he called after her as he paid for his medicine.
She waited outside the door.
“Where do you live, Miss Taylor?” Dave asked as he caught up with her.
“Please don’t call me Miss Taylor any longer. My friends call me Jennie, short for Jennifer. Do you mind calling me that?”
“Suits me, Jennie, but you didn’t answer my question.”
“Oh! I live about three blocks from here at Ninth and Chester.”
“You don’t say! It’s a small world after all. I pass your house every day going to and from work. Strange, I’ve never seen you.”
“I’m probably asleep in the mornings when you pass and at work in the afternoons. This just happened to be my day off so I walked down for a coke.”
“Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
“Thanks, Dave, but I’ll walk. I need the exercise. Nice seeing you again.”
“Same to you, Miss—uh—Jennie.”
They both laughed. It was the first time Dave had felt like laughing for many months.
Back home, he pulled off his overcoat and threw it across the back of a chair. Something fell to the floor. “The book,” he said and picked it up and opened it. He found many passages underlined and one in particular caught his eye. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.”
His heart beat faster as he turned the pages. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” he read. In Romans he read, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
He closed the little Testament and quickly pulled open a drawer and stuck it far back into a corner.
“Reading this gives me a strange feeling,” he said to himself. “I don’t care to read it any more.”
A few blocks away someone was praying, “Lord, open his eyes to see the truth of Thy word and save his soul from hell.”
Dave intended to sleep until noon on Sunday, as usual, but he awakened early and could do nothing but toss and turn so he got out of bed and dressed. After a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, he decided to drive around town. Passing Joe’s Bar, he started to go in but decided against it as he recalled what had happened the last time he was there. Church bells were ringing here and there calling together the morning worshipers. Dave could never remember going to church. His mother had died when he was eight years of age, and his father had remarried a year later. As he and his stepmother could never get along, Dave had left home at an early age. Luckily, he had found a good job with a good paying salary; therefore, he had always managed on his own. He could have made Carol a good living, but there was no use thinking of that now. Such thoughts always brought a fresh stab of pain to his heart, yet try as he would, he could not rid himself of them. Carol, his beloved Carol! He just had to forget.
He turned his car around and headed back for Joe’s Bar. What if they did put him in jail? What difference did it make? These torturing thoughts would drive him out of his mind.
“Something good and strong,” he ordered as he sat down at the bar. “No, wait a minute.” He had an after-thought. “You got something in a bottle?” He would go to his apartment before he started drinking. It might prevent an overnight stay in jail.
Dave was unable to go to work on Monday. It was his head again. He knew he should leave the stuff alone, but it helped him to forget, temporarily, so more and more frequently, he returned to Joe’s Bar. He became thinner and pale and his hands trembled as he worked.
“Dave,” his boss approached him one day. “Why don’t you pull yourself together? Your wife is gone and you’re grieving yourself to death won’t bring her back. Why don’t you brace up like a man and start your life anew? I’d like to take you fishing with me some day. It’s a great relaxation to me, and I believe it would help you.”
“No thanks, Mr. Perry. I never was one to fish or anything else along that line.”
“But, Dave, you need to get hold of yourself. I’ve tried to be patient because I know how you’re suffering, but you’re just not doing satisfactory work. You’ve been reporting out a day or two a week and have even come on the job drinking. I don’t want to have to fire you, Son. I’d like to help you because I, too, have lost a companion and I know what you’re going through.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Perry. I’ll try to do better for I need my work. I didn’t know that you had lost a companion.”
“Yes, Dave, my first wife died in childbirth, our first child, and I thought it would kill me. That’s why I’ve been so lenient with you. Otherwise I wouldn’t have let you stay as long as I have. But, Son, I hope you’ll listen to an old man’s advice and leave the bottle alone. It only blots out the memories temporarily, and then you have to face reality again.” He scratched his head and clicked his teeth together as he talked .
“I know you’re right, Mr. Perry, but sometimes I feel that if I don’t get relief, I’ll die.”
“Get out and do something to take your mind off her. Go bowling, fishing, swimming, anything but to the bar.”
Somehow Dave did not resent this kindly man’s advice for he had been like a father to him. Whether he would heed his admonition or not, remained to be seen.
Revival services had begun at the little church on Washington Street. The weather was quite favorable for the endeavor as winter was about over, and the warm sunshine was causing green blades of grass to shoot up here and there.
Jennie Taylor was a faithful attendant at each service. She had taken off work from the hospital, so she could put her best into the revival. Jennie had a special burden on her heart, and requested the church to help her pray, for she realized the power in unity. She knew, also, that God hears and answers prayer.
As Sam drove her home after church, he asked, “Do you mind telling me who you are burdened for, Jennie?”
“A friend I met at the hospital. He lost his wife, and has become very bitter. I gave him a Testament, and pray daily for him, but I felt God would be pleased if I requested the church to help me pray. With genuine prayer going up, God will convict his heart of his need.”
“Bless your heart, Jennie, you are always striving to win souls, aren’t you?”
“The Lord helps me to witness for Him nearly every day, but I still feel I do so little.”
Upon reaching her house, Sam got out and opened the car door. Walking up the sidewalk with her, he stammered, “Jennie, I think a lot of you. Do you think you could ever care for me?”
“I appreciate your consistent life, Sam. You’re a real friend,” she finished lamely.
“Is that all? I’m just a friend to you?”
“Yes, Sam. I don’t care for you like you mean. I’m sorry, Sam. I honestly wish I did, for you’re a genuine Christian, but all I can say is I like you as a friend.”
They had stopped at her door. Sam looked down at the floor as he spoke. “Thanks for your honesty, Jen, I’m glad you’re not the type to lead a guy on, and make him think you care when you really don’t.” Lifting his eyes, he looked her in the face. “Jennie, if you’ll allow me, I’d still like to drive you home every once in a while. We can yet be good friends.”
“Sure, Sam. I trust we can always be the best of friends. Good-bye for now.”
Across town, Dave picked up the phone and dialed information. “Is there a listing for a Taylor on Ninth and Chester? Yes, operator, I think that’s it. Thank you.”
Dave looked at the clock. It was Ten P.M Was it too late to call? Dave was miserable and needed to talk to someone. It had been several months since he had seen or heard of Jennie, but no denying it, she had a soothing effect on his nerves. He would take a chance and call.
“Hello.” There was no mistaking her voice.
“Hello, Jennie. This is Dave Maddox. Remember me?”
“Why, Dave, what a pleasant surprise! How are you?”
“I’m lonely and miserable, Jennie. I needed someone to talk to and I thought of you. Hope you don’t mind and it’s not too late.”
“No, Dave, I don’t mind and it’s not too late. I was still up.”
“Are you just getting off from work?”
“No, I didn’t work today.”
“Then, why are you up so late, may I ask?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“I was praying, Dave. God has placed a special burden my heart for you, and I want to see you saved. If you would give your heart to Jesus, He would give you peace and joy beyond anything you can imagine.” When Dave did not comment. Jennie asked, “Are you still there?”
“Yes, but I guess I’ll go now.”
“Wait a minute, Dave. I thought you wanted to talk to me.”
“I thought I did, too, but not any more. I just don’t care for all this religious talk, Jennie, to be quite frank with you.” Changing the tone of his voice he added, “You’re a sweet girl, Jennie, but you take this religion stuff too far. I don’t mean to hurt you, but why don’t you slack up a little and find other interests in life. You’re too young to be so serious on religion. “
“Dave, I can’t slack up. Since God saved me from a life of sin and later cleansed my heart in a second work of grace called sanctification, I can’t stop talking about Him for it burns in my heart.” She paused a few seconds to give him a chance to comment. When he did not answer, she added, “I want to ask a favor of you before you hang up. We’re having revival services for the next two weeks at our little church at 106 Washington. Will you please attend at least one service?”
“Not very likely. And now good night, Jennie.”
“Good night, Dave.”
As he hung up the phone he was more miserable than ever and wished he had never called. No doubt, he had hurt Jennie’s feelings. He knew she meant well, but he was tired of hearing about religion every time he talked to her. She might as well know it once and for all.
Pacing back and forth in his room like a caged animal, he thought upon their conversation. This religion stuff was not for him. If God loved him as much as Jennie claimed He did, why did He take Carol from him? He could not understand that kind of love. Jennie never had known any heartaches so it was easy for her to believe in a loving God.
An hour later, Dave was still pacing the floor trying to reason with his own heart. He opened the drawer where he had put the Testament and reached for it. “What’s the matter with you, Dave Maddox?” he asked himself. “Is Jennie’s influence too much for you?”
He opened the little book and read, “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.”
“What does this mean?” he meditated. “Now is the day of salvation.”
He kept turning the pages and reading verse after verse. In the fourth chapter of St. Luke, he read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
“He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,” he read over again. “What is it talking about? Maybe it means God. Jennie talks about how God has power to heal. But. … “ he continued in meditation, “He didn’t heal Carol. If He failed there, how can He possibly heal a heart broken because of her death?”
He slammed the Testament shut with a bang and shoved it far back into the drawer from where he had taken it.
“Dave Maddox, leave it alone,” he said angrily to himself. “There is no help for you now or ever.”
But as Jennie and the faithful saints at the little church continued to intercede for his soul, God continued to deal with his heart, and Sunday morning found him up early again. He was disgusted with himself. Why could he not sleep? Bits of his conversation with Jennie kept coming back to his mind. “Since God saved me from a life of sin.” How could she have ever been a sinner? He wondered what she meant by being sanctified. He shook his head as if to shake out the thoughts, for he was sick of thinking about religion. There was only one thing to do to rid himself of unwanted thoughts, so he reached for his wallet, tucked it in his back pocket, left his apartment and headed for Joe’s Bar. But he seemed to hear Mr. Perry’s pleading voice. “Dave, I hope you’ll listen to an old man’s advice and leave the bottle alone.” Dave had not made him any promises but it was a shame to let him down. So instead of going to Joe’s Bar, Dave turned toward 106 Washington St. It would not hurt to pass by Jennie’s church and see what it looked like. As he drove toward it. his heart began to beat faster. Maybe he would go in and surprise Jennie. After all, she had invited him to their revival. Well, why not?
He rounded the corner and was looking for a parking space when he saw her. A blond-haired young man walked by her side and they laughed together as they walked up the sidewalk to the church .
Dave stepped on the accelerator and sped away. “What changed your mind, Dave?” he said to himself as he raced up the street. “Why should you care that she has a boyfriend? She certainly means nothing to you.”
Swerving in and out of the traffic, running through a caution light and swinging around a curve, he finally skidded to a halt at Joe’s Bar. Having stifled the voice of conscience, he found it easier than he had thought. He joined himself to one of his barroom associates in a corner booth and ordered a drink. Before long his good intentions of going to church and the scene he witnessed there was forgotten.
But poor eating habits, drinking, smoking, and grief were too much for him; and Jennie discovered one afternoon upon reporting for duty that Dave had been admitted to the hospital where she worked. He was on the same floor where she had been assigned so she looked him up immediately.
“Dave,” she exclaimed, “What are you doing here?”
“A light heart attack,” Dave tried to appear unconcerned. “The doctor said it was a warning and advised me to quit my drinking, smoking, and worrying. Said the next one would probably be lots worse.”
“Why, Dave! Do you mean you drink? I can’t imagine it.”
“Naturally you couldn’t imagine anyone being bad, Jennie, a girl as full of religion as you are.”
“Oh, Dave, everyone is bad in one way or another without the grace of God, for the Bible tells us our own righteousness is as filthy rags.”
“What in the world does that mean?”
“It simply means that one cannot be good enough to merit heaven no matter how good they think they are. Their goodness without the grace of God looks like filthy rags to God.”
“In other words, as bad as I am, I’ve got about as good a chance to get to heaven as all the goody-goods,” Dave rationalized.
“Well, yes and no. You see, Dave, no one has a chance to get to heaven until they have been born again by the Spirit of Christ.”
“It’s all very confusing, Jennie. Maybe we’d better talk about the weather. Is it still raining outside?”
“Yes, it’s quite stormy looking. I must run now, Dave, but before I go, will you allow me to pray for you?”
“Sure, pray on. Don’t guess it can hurt me even if it doesn’t help me.”
As she bowed her head and, with a trembling voice, began to pray, the Holy Spirit settled down and melted her heart in prayer. With tears flowing unashamedly, she thanked God for sparing Dave’s life and entreated Him to reveal Dave’s heart to him through the Holy Spirit. “Don’t let him die and go to hell,” she prayed boldly. “Show him his sinful heart and his need of a Saviour.”
“Thank you, Jennie,” Dave reached for her hand, but she drew it back. His voice trembled and tears glistened in his eyes. “What a prayer! I reckon I am a pretty bad sinner. If you’ll promise to keep praying for me, I’ll promise to quit smoking and drinking. I see I need to change my ways.”
“I’ll keep praying for you, Dave.” She smiled at him sweetly. “It’s wonderful that you’ve promised to stop your drinking and smoking but that’s only a start. ‘Ye must be born again,’ “ she quoted from the Bible. “Well, I must go. See you later.”
“Good night, Jennie, and thanks for what you’ve done.”
The next morning Dave awoke early feeling better with new resolutions in his life.
His door opened and a stranger walked in.
“Good morning, Dave. I’m Rev. Smith, Jennie’s pastor. She asked me to come by and see you.”
“I’m very pleased to meet you, Rev. Smith. That Jennie is quite a girl. She never gives up in trying to win people to her way of life.”
“Yes, she’s a real Christian girl.”
“It’s a wonder that some good man hasn’t tried to win her love.” Dave was probing hoping to find out the truth concerning Jennie and the blond-haired boy.
“Oh, they try all right, but Jennie will never marry until she is sure of God’s will in the matter. She would not allow anyone to hinder her usefulness in God’s Kingdom, Dave.” The pastor thought it best to get right to the point. “Jennie feels the Lord is dealing with your heart and she thinks I might be able to help you.”
“Well, preacher, if I thought I could be as good as Jennie, I would be glad to change my way of living for I have found out my way doesn’t pay. But I don’t understand much about religion. I read some in a Testament she gave me but I can’t seem to grasp its meaning.”
“You don’t have to understand much, Dave. The Bible states that ‘wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein,’ so you see the way of salvation is very simple. Let us read here in I John 1:9. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ and in Proverbs 28:13, we read, ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.’ You see, Dave, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He told us this in II Peter 3:9. Do you understand thus far the way of salvation?”
“If I understand correctly, God wants me to repent, to confess all my sins to you.”
“Not to me, Dave. Confess your sins to God.”
“Now, preacher, how could I ever remember all sins? You’re asking the impossible.”
“As you pray earnestly and sincerely, Dave, God brings your past sins to your remembrance. Just confess what you know is wrong in your past and present life and leave the rest to God. Would you like to pray?”
“I sure am a terrible sinner, preacher. Do you suppose it is His will to save a sinner like me? It evidently was not His will to heal my wife. Jennie says we must pray ‘Thy will be done.’ “
“In healing, yes, Dave, that is correct, but with salvation, it is different. Remember the Scripture I just quoted to you that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It was for this purpose that Christ came into the world, to save sinners. Here, let’s read John 3:16. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ The next verse says, ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him might be saved.’ So you see. Dave, Jesus came to save sinners no matter how wicked they have been. He does not want to condemn you to hell unless you refuse His offer of salvation. Then He has no other alternative. He’s waiting just now with outstretched arms of mercy to save whosoever will. He wants to forgive your sins if you will only let Him.”
“I will let Him all right, preacher, but my sins are awfully numerous and black.”
“In Isaiah 1:18 we read, ‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet. they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ Let us pray, Dave.”
Dave’s heart was hungry; therefore, he was ready to repent. With the Spirit’s help, it was easy to pray and as he turned wholeheartedly to God in true repentance and faith, his sins were blotted out and his name written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
“Wonderful,” he exclaimed as the Spirit bore witness to his regeneration.
“Praise the Lord, Dave, you are a new creature in Christ Jesus,” Rev. Smith said joyfully as he pumped Dave’s hand.
“Yes, I feel it. That peace that Jennie talks about has come into my heart. Thank you, thank you, Rev. Smith, for coming by to pray with me.”
“Thank God, Son, and Jennie. There’s very little I have done. I am just a little instrument that God used at the right time, to help you to come to the saving knowledge of the truth.” Looking at his watch, he added, “Well. I must be on my way now. There’s another patient here in the hospital that I want to visit. With the encouragement I have received this morning. I should be able to help encourage her.” With a big smile he shook Dave’s hand again. “Keep praying, Dave, read your Bible, and keep trusting God and He will see through. Good-bye for now and God bless you. If you need me, feel free to call on me any time, day or night.”
“Thanks, Rev. Smith. and good-bye.”
My, how wonderful Dave felt, both physically and spiritually. He glanced at his watch. Jennie would be on duty at three o’clock. Perhaps she would come even a little earlier and stop by to see him. He could hardly contain himself as he waited to share the good news with her. He knew she would be thrilled to hear that her prayers and efforts had not been in vain.
His door opened, and Dr. Leary, the heart specialist, came in accompanied by a nurse.
“Good morning, Dave, you are certainly looking much better this morning,” he greeted him.
“I’m feeling much better, Doc. In fact I feel wonderful.”
Placing his stethoscope on Dave’s chest, the doctor listened to his heartbeat. “Have you had any more chest pains?” he questioned.
“None whatsoever, Doc. I feel as fit as a fiddle. I think I’m well enough to go home.”
“Oh, you do, eh? Well, we will have to see about that. After we take another cardiogram today, we will decide.”
The morning passed slowly. Dave looked at his watch every few minutes, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jennie. When lunch was served, he ate heartily.
“A couple more hours and she’ll be here,” he thought. At two thirty, he began to watch the door but at three thirty, he still had not seen her. He tried to relax and take a much needed nap but was unable to.
A nurse came in at four to check his temperature. Dave had not seen her previously.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Maddox,” she greeted in a cheery voice. “How are you feeling today?”
“Fine, thank you.”
Before he could ask about Jennie, she had stuck the thermometer in his mouth. As soon as she removed it, he asked, “Where is Miss Taylor today? This is not her day off, is it?”
“No, I understand she is sick.”
“Oh, is that right?” The look on his face revealed his disappointment. “Is she very sick?”
“I really don’t know, Sir. They only told me she was sick and assigned me to work in her place. Bye now.” And she was gone.
Dave did not feel very hungry when an aide brought his supper tray. He missed Jennie. He had very few friends because he had lived to himself since the death of his wife, and he longed to talk to someone and tell them of his newfound experience.
“Why not tell the aide who brought your tray?” an inner voice prompted.
“Why sure.” His spirits lifted. “I hadn’t thought of that. “
When the girl returned to pick up the supper tray, Dave was smiling. “I got saved this morning,” he said bluntly.
“You got what?” She asked with a blank expression.
“I was saved. God forgave me of all my sins and gave me peace within,” he smiled at her.
“Oh!” Her mouth gaped open, and she turned and hurried from the room.
“Hey! You forgot the tray,” Dave called after her.
“Oh yes, I sure did,” she giggled nervously as she returned, picked it up and hurried out.
Dave’s testimony had not had the effect he had hoped for. Should he tell the nurse or keep quiet? When she came in, he decided to try another approach.
“Mind telling me your name?” he asked.
“First or last?”
“Miss or Mrs.?”
“Miss,” she replied with a smile.
“Miss Blackman, how well do you know Miss Taylor?”
“I’ve known her a long time. I would say I know her quite well.”
“Has she ever talked to you about religion?” He was tryng to lead up to a testimony.
“I think she tries that on everybody, but I am quite satisfied with my own religion. I don’t need hers.”
“Do you think she’s a real Christian?” he ventured further.
“Oh, no doubt about that, but she takes her religion too seriously. I think she eats, drinks, sleeps, and lives religion. People get tired of hearing it all the time. Say-y, you sure are asking a lot of questions. You must really be interested in her. “
“I should be. She has prayed for me and dealt with me until I found God. I was just like you and thought I was tired of hearing about religion, but I am so glad she didn’t get discouraged and give me up as hopeless. I have been so miserable and tired of life until this morning, when God came into my heart and gave me something to live for. I can’t describe the newfound peace and joy I have. Compared to the awful unrest and turmoil that was in my heart, this is actually heaven. It has certainly changed my outlook on life.” Looking her squarely in the face, he asked, “Are you a real born again Christian, Miss Blackman?”
“Now, listen, young man, I told you I was satisfied with my religion so don’t be like Jennie and start preaching to me.” Her face flushed and her eyes flashed. Leaving the room in a huff, she called over her shoulder, “Dr. Leary won’t be in tonight but will see you early in the morning.”
“Thanks,” Dave called after her.
He pulled the sheet up around his neck and lay in silence. “Seems as if I’m doing more harm than good,” he thought, but had he been able to see Miss Blackman head for the washroom to get control of her emotions and try to still her beating heart, he would have taken fresh courage. The witnessing of this new babe in Christ had had its effect on the young nurse in spite of her bold front.
The next morning as Dr. Leary checked him over, Dave testified again, “Doc, I’ve had a heart change.”
“Yes, I think you have,” he replied. “The cardiogram was good. In fact, I don’t think I will need to hold you any longer. You may go home today.”
“That’s great news, Doc, that you are going to discharge me. But as for my heart change, I wasn’t speaking of my physical condition. I was referring to a spiritual heart change, I was saved yesterday. I have peace in my heart where before I had nothing but turmoil and sorrow.”
The doctor laughed in a pleased manner. “Dave, I would not have to ask you, to know who one of your nurses is. “
“Because there is a young nurse who works in this hospital by the name of Taylor, who prescribes religion to all the patients.” With a twinkle in his eyes, he asked, “By any chance, have you met her?”
Dave avoided his question and asked the doctor one. “Do you think her prescription of religion helps?”
“I’ll have to admit that all who accept her prescription seem happy and satisfied with it.”
“Has she ever prescribed it to you, Doc?”
He threw back his head and laughed heartily, “Dave Maddox,” he replied, “If you would go to every nurse, doctor, orderly, aide, cleaning woman, and janitor in this hospital and ask them the question you just asked me, I dare say every one of them would probably answer in the affirmative. If she hasn’t talked to them about religion, it is because she hasn’t had the opportunity. I tell you, that young lady literally lives her religion. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Dave heard him add under his breath, Except maybe once.”
“She must have quite an influence here at the hospital.” Dave said, thinking of the influence she had had on his own life.
“I guess she is quite influential around here. Nobody doubts that she possesses what she represents, for you sense it when she is around. Several of my patients have been like you and have had that heart change you spoke of because of her testimony. It usually affects them physically as well as the other way. Of course, not everyone appreciates Miss Taylor. Some get mad at her and talk to her in a manner that would discourage most anyone, especially one as young as she. But she never gives up. I, for one, appreciate her consistent Christian life. There is something peculiar about her that makes one feel reverent in her presence. Why, I can’t even smoke my cigar or use slang around her. Not that she has mentioned it, but her life demands respect. If I stay in her presence long, I begin to feel like a real sinful man, and realize I ought to do as you have done, Dave, and change my way of living.” Dave detected a hunger in his voice, but the doctor added quickly, “I’m sorry, Dave, I should not have said so much. I was just talking right out of my heart without realizing I was saying so much, but the expression on your face somehow encouraged me to keep talking.” He dropped his eyes and said, “It’s disconcerting.”
“Please don’t feel ill at ease, Doc, for you’re talking to one who understands perfectly how you feel.”
Dr. Leary put his hand under Dave’s head and helped him to lift himself to a sitting position. “You can go home Dave, and if you keep this change of heart, I probably won’t see you here again soon.” Dave thought he saw a tear glisten in the doctor’s eye as he added, “Pray for me sometimes. I suppose I need what you have. Good-bye for now and good luck!”
Before Dave could answer, he was gone and had closed the door behind him.
“Now, who would have supposed that old Doc Leary ever had a serious thought on religion?” Dave mused. “One never knows the longing of another’s heart.” He felt encouraged and purposed to pray much for him.
Back home, he felt as good as new. Mrs. Halloway had cleaned his apartment, and as soon as she discovered he was at home, she busied herself preparing lunch for him.
“Bless her heart!” Dave muttered. He had never liked her, but now with a heart change, he could see her good intentions.
“Thank you very kindly, Mrs. Halloway,” he smiled at her as she handed him the tray. “M-m-m, this looks and smells delicious. I appreciate it so much.”
“You’re quite welcome, Dave,” she answered with a warm smile. “When I heard you in here, I said to myself …. “ She stopped. Dave had cut her off time and time again, even closing his door in her face.
Dave noticed her hesitation and guessed the reason. He felt ashamed of the way he had treated her. “Bless your heart, Mrs. Halloway. I was saved while I was in the hospital, and I feel I need to apologize for being so unkind to you on many occasions when you were only trying to be helpful. Will you forgive me for being so rude?”
Her mouth gaped open in astonishment. Dave laughed. “I see you’re surprised, but I am truly sorry. Will you accept my apologies?”
“Sure, Dave, and I must go now.” She backed from the room with the look of astonishment still on her face. “I’ll pick up the tray later.”
“What has happened to that boy?” Dave heard her mumbling to herself as she crossed the porch. “His head must be affected as well as his heart.”
Dave chuckled and picked up his fork to eat the meal she had prepared. “At least, she didn’t gab long today,” he grinned to himself.
After eating his lunch, Dave picked up the receiver and dialed Jennie’s number. He could hardly wait to hear her voice.
“Hello,” an older lady answered.
“Is this the Taylor residence?”
“Yes, Mrs. Taylor speaking.”
“May I speak to Jennie, please?”
“I’m sorry, Jennie is in bed sick. Who’s calling please?”
“This is Dave, Dave Maddox. Will you tell her I called, please?”
“Sure, Dave. Jennie has spoken of you often. In fact, Brother Smith called and related some good news about you.”
“Yes, thanks to your daughter and to God, I am a saved man. Also, I’m indebted to Rev. Smith.”
“Wonderful, Dave. Are you calling from the hospital?”
“No, the Lord touched my heart in two ways and I’m back home.”
“Good! I’ll tell Jennie you called.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Taylor. Good-bye now.”
Returning to work a few days later, Dave looked longingly as he passed Ninth and Chester, but there was no noticeable sign of life except the cat sunning himself on the doorstep. Finally, he decided to call again, but this time there was no answer. Maybe she was well and back at work. He would try again later, and perhaps her mother would be home and could give him the information he desired.
Before leaving for work the next morning, he dialed Jennie’s number once more. He knew it was too early to call but he felt he had to know something about Jennie’s condition.
“Hello.” Her mother sounded sleepy.
“Hello, Mrs. Taylor. I’m sorry to disturb you so early in the morning but I’m anxious about Jennie. I tried to call yesterday but received no answer.”
“Jennie’s in the hospital, Dave. She kept getting worse so we thought it best to have her admitted.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry. Is she allowed to have visitors?”
“Perhaps for a few minutes, but the doctor has ordered lots of rest. You know how Jennie is. She works her shift and then sits with those who need her on her off hours in order to try to win souls for God. She contacted a cold, and since her resistance is low, she can’t seem to get rid of it. Her temperature was one hundred and two last night and She has developed a cough.”
“Thanks for the information, Mrs. Taylor. I’ll be checking on her.”
Poor Jennie! He remembered the many off hours she had spent with Carol. He never had given it a thought at the time, but now he realized the sacrifice she had made.
After work, he ate, showered, dressed, and headed for the hospital.
Stopping at the information desk, he learned she was in Room 305. As he rode up in the elevator, he had mixed emotions. How sick was she? Would she mind his coming to visit her? He promised himself he would stay only a few minutes, but, oh, how he did long to see her once more.
He knocked lightly on the door.
“Come in,” a male voice answered his knock.
Pushing open the door, he walked in breathlessly. The blond-haired young man he had seen with her the day he started to go to church, was sitting in a chair by her bed. He stood up as Dave came in.
“Why, hello, Dave, this is quite a surprise,” Jennie’s voice sounded weak. “I’m so happy to see you.” She extended her hand to shake his. “Dave, this is Sam Rayford, a friend who attends our church. He came by from work to check on me. Sam,” she looked at the blond, “Meet Dave Maddox. You have heard me speak of him.”
“Yes. Nice meeting you, Dave.”
“Same to you, Sam.” Dave dropped his eyes as he shook hands with Sam. Was this peculiar feeling on the inside jealousy? Nonsense! But why was he blushing and stammering like a school boy?
After a few words to Sam, Dave addressed Jennie. “I have only a minute or two, Jennie. But I have tried to contact you several times at home and, as you know, have been unable to. I wanted to see how you were feeling and also to tell you my good news first hand.”
“It’s wonderful, Dave. You can’t know how happy your conversion has made me.” She started to cough. For a minute or so, she coughed uncontrollably, while Dave and Sam looked on, helpless to assist her.
“I guess I’ll run, Jennie. If I stay, you will try to talk and I see it makes you cough so I’ll check with you later.”
“Please don’t go now, Dave. You just got here,” she begged.
“Guess I had better, Jennie. Too much company isn’t good for you.” He looked meaningfully at Sam causing him to squirm and drop his eyes.
Sam stood up. “I’ve been here longer, Dave. I’ll go and let you visit awhile,” he offered graciously.
“Stay as long as you wish, Sam. I’m going. Hope you get to feeling better, Jennie.” His statements were clipped and unnatural. He gave Sam an ugly look and hurried out.
“My, you would think he was jealous,” Dave overheard Sam say as he hesitated outside her room.
“Not Dave, Sam. He would never be jealous over me. If you could have seen how devoted he was to his wife ….” She started coughing again.
“I see I must go, too, Jen. Take care of yourself and I will see you later.”
“Let’s pray before you leave, Sam,” Jennie said between coughs. “I have such confidence in your prayers.”
Dave’s heart was pounding as he hurried to the elevator. He felt ashamed and confused. He could not understand the turmoil in his heart where before there had been such peace. What was wrong with him? Why had he acted so hatefully toward Sam? He was sure God was not pleased with his actions, but at the time it seemed to be beyond his control. “I just can’t understand it,” he thought. “I was so wonderfully happy on my way to the hospital but now I feel so defeated. Oh, God,” he prayed, “show me what’s wrong.”
As soon as he reached his apartment he locked his door and dropped on his knees. He needed help.
“Oh, God,” he prayed brokenly, “I just can’t understand this struggle within—after such peace that’s been in my heart. Please help me, Jesus. I’m sorry for feeling so bad toward Sam. I couldn’t seem to help myself, Lord. Will you forgive me and help me to feel right inside?”
He felt better after confessing his need to God and was able to sleep peacefully that night.
Sunday morning found him up early, getting ready for church. He parked his car at 106 Washington a little before ten o’clock.
“Good morning, Dave, I’m so glad to see you out of the hospital and able to attend the service,” Rev. Smith greeted him as Dave shyly entered the sanctuary.
“I’m glad to be here,” he replied.
Walking down the center aisle, he sat about halfway from the front. Across from him, he caught a glimpse of Sam. A feeling of shame crept over him as he remembered the way he had acted toward him.
This was the first religious service Dave had ever attended. Though it was quite different from what he expected, the singing and message was blessed to his heart.
As Dave walked toward his car after the service was dismissed, Sam approached him.
“Hello, Dave. Sure good to see you out to church.” He extended his hand toward Dave. Dave looked down at the ground as he shook Sam’s hand.
“Thanks, Sam,” he mumbled.
“We would like to have you worship with us regularly, Dave. “
Dave raised his head and looked Sam in the eye. He realized that Sam was sincere in wanting him to come back.
“Sam-uh,” Dave stammered. “Sam, I’m sorry for speaking to you so coldly while visiting at the hospital. I have asked God to forgive me. Will you?”
“Of course, Dave. Think nothing of it, ole boy.” He laid a hand on Dave’s shoulder .
“I haven’t been able to figure it out, Sam.”
“Figure what out?”
“Why I acted the way I did. Ever since I was saved, I had such wonderful peace, but after that episode, I felt defeated, that is, until I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I’ve never seen Jennie act angry or ugly in any way. What’s the matter with me, Sam?”
Sam shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “The old devil’s after you, Dave,” he finally answered. “He knows you mean business with God, but if you keep obeying God and walking in the light, God will see you through.”
“But how do I know that I won’t act up again? That awful feeling seemed to spring from my heart.” Dave was sincere in trying to ascertain his trouble.
“Dave, you are a ‘babe in Christ.’ You have repented of sins and have been born again. But the Bible tells us there is another law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and attempting to bring us into captivity to the law of sin. There is a carnal nature within even after we are saved and this nature must be eradicated if we are to live victoriously. This eradication comes about through a second definite work of grace which we call ‘sanctification.’ “
“Oh yes, I remember hearing Jennie say she was sanctified. Then, that’s what keeps her so kind and tender?”
“Yes, Dave. It is the Holy Spirit within her heart. He will come into your heart, too, if you’ll invite Him. He wants you to live to glorify Him so He is anxious to rid you of the carnal nature and take up His abode in your heart.”
‘‘I’m beginning to understand, Sam. Thanks for your help.”
“I’m glad to be of assistance, Dave. Say,” he added as an afterthought, “have you heard from Jennie?”
“No, I haven’t been back to the hospital. How about you?” He looked Sam in the eye.
“I haven’t heard either. Well, I did call her mom and she told me she was much better and would probably be discharged tomorrow. Why don’t you go back to see her this afternoon? It would probably do her lots of good. She has really carried a burden for you, ole boy.”
“Yes, I know. No telling where I would be had it not been for her prayers.” Dave glanced down at the ground again and kicked at a pebble. “Sam,” he said warily, “what about you? Aren’t you going to see her today?”
“I guess not. I’m thinking of going over to see Becky. See the young lady over there with the blond hair and pink dress?”
“But, Sam, I thought you and Jennie were …. “
“We’re good friends, Dave. To be perfectly honest, I could think a great deal of Jennie, but she doesn’t care for me, only as a friend, so it will be best if I don’t see her much. Jennie’s a wonderful girl, the most consistent Christian I’ve ever known. But. .. “ he smiled at Dave, “she’s not for me. Good luck, Dave.”
“See you later.”
“So long, Sam.”
After a sandwich and a glass of milk, Dave headed for the hospital. He felt relieved to hear that Jennie was better. Maybe she would be able to converse this afternoon without so much coughing.
As Dave tapped on her door a few minutes later, he was glad to hear her voice sounding so much stronger as she called, “Come in.”
“Why, Dave, you can’t imagine how glad I am to see you.” Her face lit up with a glow. “I was just thinking of you and wondered if you attended church this morning.”
“I sure did, Jennie.” He shook the hand outstretched to him. “I certainly missed a certain black-haired young lady, though,” he added with a smile.
“You can’t imagine how I missed being there, Dave. This is the first Sunday morning I’ve missed church since I was saved three years ago.”
“You’ve been saved three years? I guess you did not need to change much. I can’t imagine your being any other way but the way you are.”
She smiled, “I’m glad you didn’t know me before I was saved, Dave, for you are very much mistaken. I had a lot of changing to do. The Lord had to make me over completely for I was just as worldly as I could be, stubborn, rebellious, and very sinful in many ways.”
“I can’t imagine it. Jennie. I’m glad I didn’t know you then. I like you as you are.”
Two hours passed quickly as Dave and Jennie chatted and fellowshipped together. Dave looked at his watch. “My, my! I had no idea it was so late. I’m ashamed for staying so long when you need your rest. Forgive me, Jennie.”
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” she assured him. “The fellowship has been wonderful. I enjoy talking about the things of God. He has been very near to me since I have been laid up. I was quite restless at first thinking of the work that needed to be done for God, but He has helped me to rest in Him.” She blinked back the tears. “I’m so glad to be a Christian, Dave, and to have good Christian friends. Let’s have prayer together before you leave. You pray, Dave. “
As Dave attempted his first vocal prayer, the Holy Spirit settled down and melted their hearts together.
“Come again, Dave,” she invited with tears in her eyes. “And, Dave, keep seeking God for a pure heart. I’m so glad you confided in me concerning your need and your talk with Sam. God will sanctify you when you meet His conditions.”
“Pray for me, Jennie. I want to be like you.”
“No, no, Dave, not like me but like Jesus. Strive to be like Him.”
“When can I see you again?”
“I’ll tell you what, Dave. Come over to my house Thursday night if you don’t have other plans. I should be up and around by then and Mother and I will prepare a good meal for you. I suppose you get tired of eating your own cooking.”
“You talk like my landlady,” Dave laughed. “but I’ll certainly be over. So long for now, Jen.”
“Bye now. Pray for me.”
He was lighthearted as he left the hospital—quite different from the last time he had left her. But now that he had humbled himself and made things right with Sam, it was surprising how good he felt.
The Sunday night service was a time of refreshing.
“I feel God would have us spend some time tonight in testifying,” Rev. Smith was saying. “Sometimes a good testimony will do more good than a sermon. Perhaps there are those here tonight that have an unusual testimony that they feel will be a blessing to someone else.”
Dave’s heart began to beat faster. He felt he should tell what God had done for him but not knowing how to testify, he kept still. Sam rose to his feet and with tears, he began, “I don’t think my testimony is unusual and I don’t know how much of a blessing it will be, but I do want to testify for my Saviour.” He continued by telling how faithful God had been to him and how He had kept His hand upon him all through life because of his mother’s prayers. “I can never remember committing great sins, but yet I was a sinner and needed to repent.” He related how God had saved him at the early age of twelve and sanctified him shortly afterward. “I want nothing but God’s will in my life,” he finished and sat down.
Again Dave felt as if he should testify but his testimony was not like Sam’s. He was thoroughly ashamed of his past life so maybe he had better not say anything.
An elderly man stood to his feet. “I appreciate our good brother’s testimony,” he said. “It’s wonderful when our young people are restrained from a life of sin by godly parents and the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. But sad to say, I didn’t have a Christian heritage such as Brother Sam’s. My dear dad was a drunkard and though my mother was a good woman, she wasn’t a Christian, so I never had the opportunity to attend church.” He paused and looked over the congregation. “I thought I would just sit still tonight and enjoy all the other good testimonies, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to tell in detail of my conversion. Perhaps, there is someone here tonight that it will benefit.”
Dave’s heart was beating faster. The old gentleman’s testimony thus far had already reminded him of his own life. “After all,” he thought, “I am not the only one here who does not have a Christian heritage.”
The man continued, “I went out into deep sin as a young lad and became an alcoholic like my dad. I was a gambler and sowed all manner of wild oats. There seemed no hope for one as wicked and ungodly as I, but thank God, the Bible savs that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief, and that included me.”
Dave could hardly contain himself. He remembered having read that very verse in the Testament that Jennie had given him. He did not understand it then, but now its meaning was certainly made clear. He leaned forward in his pew so as not to miss a word of his good testimony which he felt God was prompting for his benefit.
“I’ll never forget the night I was sitting at the bar with my drink already poured and about to guzzle it down,” the man continued, “when the door of the tavern opened. We all turned to see what old friend was coming by for his nightly drink, but this fine-looking young fellow came in with a Bible in his hand. For about ten minutes, he held us all spellbound while he preached the best sermon I’ve ever heard. Then, before the bartender could throw him out, he was gone. I’ve never seen a man so mightily used of God. Those big strong men sitting all around that bar looked as if they had seen a ghost. They started setting their glasses down one by one and walking out. I was among them. As I stood outside that old tavern, I wept like a baby. I looked up to the sky and said, ‘God, if there be a God, help me to find You.’ I started walking, I knew not where, but there seemed to be an unseen power directing my steps. After walking about ten blocks I heard singing, and I looked up and saw the man who had come into the bar, standing on a street corner with a group of people who were singing. I crossed the street and joined the little band. Others passed on by, but there was something within me that compelled me to stop. After the singing, the young man opened his Bible and delivered another powerful message. I cried the whole time he preached, for God was sending the message directly to me. When the young preacher finished, he looked right at me and said. ‘Sir, God is dealing with your heart. Won’t you come to Him tonight and let Him have His way with you?’ I didn’t need any persuasion but fell on my knees and started to pray, confessing my sins as the young preacher instructed me to do. Thank God, the Lord saved me right there on the street corner. He cleaned me up, took the old filthy habits away and made me a new creature in Christ Jesus. Amen! I haven’t drunk a drop of liquor, or smoked another cigarette. Thank God, this is a salvation that frees a man from sin and it is for whosoever will. God is no respecter of persons but can make the vilest sinner clean if he will come to Him in true repentance. Hallelujah!” Looking toward Rev. Smith he said, “Forgive me, Brother Smith, for taking so much time, but I felt impressed to give my testimony tonight.”
“Always mind God, Brother Atkins,” Brother Smith admonished him. “Your testimony was to encourage someone here tonight.”
“It has certainly encouraged me,” thought Dave. He had never heard anything like this before. His heart overflowed with joy and gladness.
“And now your testimony,” an inner voice prompted.
Trembling, Dave rose to his feet and opened his mouth to speak, but he could only weep. The good brother’s testimony had had an effect on him that would be lasting. It was hard for him to comprehend the depths God would reach to save a soul from hell. As Dave shook with emotion, Brother Smith spoke, “God bless our new convert. It’s wonderful what God has done for Dave.”
“Yes, it is,” Dave agreed as he regained his composure. “I was like this brother who just testified, I have lived a sinful life, but because of the prayers of one of your members and the great mercy of God, I stand before you a saved man.” Amens were heard throughout the congregation as Dave continued brokenly. “When my wife passed away, I became as bitter as a person could possibly be, I was mad at God and the whole world for taking her from me. But thanks be to God for being so merciful and not punishing me according to what I deserved, He kept dealing with my heart even though I did my best to shut Him out. I would drink liquor until my mind was too foggy to think because I wasn’t man enough to face reality. But I’m so glad God brought me down to a hospital bed so I could get still long enough to think seriously.” He stopped as he was overcome with emotion once again.
“Amen!” shouted the elderly man who had testified, “Glory to God!” .
Waves of glory swept over the congregation as Dave continued, ‘‘I’m thankful to you, Brother Smith, for your part in helping me to find God. Also, I’m deeply indebted to Jennie Taylor for her faithfulness in praying for me and dealing with my soul. I’m sure I would never have been saved had she not been faithful. Most of all, I’m thankful to God for His abundant mercy that has been extended to me, unworthy as I am. I need your prayers. I am weak in some areas but I know God can help me. I love Him with all my heart and want to spend the rest of my life serving Him.”
“God bless you, Dave,” Brother Smith encouraged him. “He will see you through if you will keep your little hand in His big one. Read your Bible and pray every day and continue to walk in all the light He gives you.” Addressing the congregation, he added, “Let us be faithful to pray for Dave. The devil has many snares laid out for souls, and especially for a new convert, so let us pray for him daily. Also, let us continue to pray for Jennie. We surely do miss her, don’t we? God is using this faithful servant of His to win souls and she needs much prayer.
God gave unction and liberty in the preaching of His word and when the altar call was given, two young girls responded.
Dave was in a state of ecstasy as he drove toward his apartment singing bits of the songs he had heard in the service. Never would he forget this memorable service. No wonder Jennie had said she could not quit talking about her religion, that it burned in her heart. He could understand that kind of language now.
Everything looked different to Dave as he drove to work on Monday. The leaves of the old, oak trees waved to him as he went by; the young saplings bowed in reverence to the Author of the joy and peace in his heart; and the song birds were singing their very best. The dog on the corner wagged his tail as if to say, “Good morning,” and the cat on Jennie’s porch appeared to be smiling.
“What a wonderful world to live in,” Dave voiced his thoughts aloud. “There’s beauty everywhere. I believe everything has changed for the better.”
He could not wait to witness to his boss who had been on vacation. He thought Mr. Perry would be thrilled to hear of his conversion. He parked his car and with long strides, headed for the shop.
“Good morning, Mr. Perry,” Dave extended his hand, the corners of his mouth stretched in a wide grin.
“Good morning, Dave. My, what’s happened to you? I’ve never seen you come to work looking so happy.”
“The Lord has saved me, Mr. Perry. I know that will make you happy for I won’t be drinking any more, and I’ll be a better employee.”
Mr. Perry looked shocked but only grunted and walked away, Though Dave knew him to be a good moral man, he seemingly was not impressed by Dave’s religion. Like so many others, he probably felt he was good enough without going so far. Though Dave was disappointed at Mr. Perry’s reaction. he purposed to pray for him that God would convict his heart and show him the error of his ways.
Eagerly, Dave awaited his dinner date with Jennie on Thursday night. “My, I’m acting like I used to when I dated Carol,” he thought. “What’s wrong with me? Jennie and I could never make a go for she’s much too good for me.” But in spite of his reasoning, Thursday afternoon on his job found him looking at his watch quite frequently and longing for quitting time to come. When at last the time did arrive, he rushed home, bathed and dressed and headed for Ninth and Chester, humming a hymn as he drove along. Life had taken on new meaning.
The meal was as delicious as he had expected. Why, it was as good, if not better than Mrs. Halloway’s.
“My, you’re quite a cook,” he complimented Jennie.
Jennie looked at her mother and they both laughed. “Mother cooked it,” she confessed.
“Jennie is a good cook, though, Dave,” Mrs. Taylor assured him. “Next time we have you over, she will be feeling stronger and we will let her prepare all the meal for you.”
“Next time,” she had said. Dave smiled at Jennie’s mother in appreciation of her acceptance of him. He ate heartily and complimented Mrs. Taylor’s good cooking several times.
After the dishes were cleared away, Mrs. Taylor retired to her room and Dave and Jennie were left alone. They walked together to the living room and sat on the sofa. There was so much to talk about until at times they would find themselves interrupting one another. Dave never thought he would ever tell anyone his life history, but he found it easy to talk to Jennie. She was such a good listener and so understanding that before Dave realized it, it was time to go.
“Thanks for a delicious meal and a very enjoyable evening,” Dave told her in parting.
“I’ve enjoyed it, too, Dave. You must come again.”
And he did, every chance he got. As time went by, Jennie was more and more in his thoughts. He would chuckle to himself over some little remark she had made, or meditate on some Scripture she had mentioned. Always, he would find himself slowing his car and craning his neck as he passed her house hoping to catch some glimpse of her. Even her cat looked good to him because it belonged to Jennie. They were together often and he enjoyed every minute of it.
“Jennie,” he said softly one night as he started to leave. “I have something to tell you. Maybe you have already guessed it.” He searched her face for some sign to encourage him to continue. She caught her breath and blushed slightly. “Jennie,” he repeated her name tenderly, “I love you.”
She dropped her eyes and they stood a few moments in silence.
"Don't say anything if you don't want to," he continued, "but if you could give me any encouragement at all that you could ever care for me, I think I would be the happiest man in the world. Brother Smith warned me that you would be very careful as to whom you would set your affections on, and I realize I'm not nearly as good as some--like Sam-- or .... "
“Sh-h,” she put her finger to his lips to silence him as she looked up into his eyes.
“Dave, are you blind? Haven’t you guessed my feelings for you?”
“You mean you do care?” Dave swallowed his Adam’s apple and smiled happily.
“Yes, Dave, I love you very much.”
He caught her hand and held it in both of his.
“Jennie, you will never know what this means to me. I thought after—uh—I thought after …. “ he could not seem to get it out.
“I understand, Dave,” she said sweetly. “You thought you would never love anyone but Carol, didn’t you? I’m not at all jealous because you loved her so much. I’m just thankful that after all the heartache you have been through, that God has given you somebody else to love. And I’m more thankful that that somebody is me.” Her sweet smile caused Dave’s heart to beat more rapidly.
“Thanks for being so understanding, Jennie. I thought when Carol died under such tragic circumstances, that my world had ended, that no one could ever fill that empty place in my life. But it’s so refreshing to be with you. You make me feel whole again. I’m thankful that God brought us together.”
“So am I, Dave. There have been several guys that I’ve been fond of, but I’ve never felt about anyone the way I do about you. It’s great to love and know that love is returned.”
“Dear Jennie, that’s music to my ears. I guess I’m about the ‘‘luckiest guy in the world.”
“Instead of saying we are lucky, let’s say we are blessed, Dave.”
“You’re right, Jennie.” Looking at his watch he said, “It’s getting late. I must run. That alarm goes off early at my house. Good night, Jennie. You have made me very happy.”
“Good night, Dave.”
Now that Dave knew that his and Jennie’s feelings were mutual, he had a plan in mind. Would she consent to it? He thought about it day and night for several weeks until he made up his mind that the opportune time had come to pop the question.
“I love you so, Jennie, and feel we could be very happy together. Will you make me the happiest man in the world by becoming my wife?”
“Give me a little time, Dave. I need to pray about it.”
“Sure, Jennie, but I believe God would be pleased for us to become man and wife.”
“You sound convincing, Dave, but I still need a little time. I’ll let you know in a day or so.”
“Two days from now?” Dave asked jovially. “Let’s see, today is Tuesday. I’ll ask you again Thursday. That’s a good day anyway for we had our first date on a Thursday. Remember?”
“How can I ever forget, Dave? Mother worked so hard trying to fix a meal to please you, then you complimented me on the good cooking.”
They laughed heartily as Dave said, “I’ve discovered since that you are a wonderful cook, though, Miss Taylor. Your mother did a good job teaching you. I’m so glad that I’ll soon be eating your good cooking all the time instead of my burnt toast, scrambled eggs, and sandwiches.”
“Now, wait a minute, Mr. Maddox. I haven’t accepted your proposal yet. I asked for a couple of days. Remember?”
“Excuse me, Ma’am. I guess I’m just so excited that I’m over-reacting. Take your two days but I’m warning you, I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
“Dave Maddox, you’re impossible.”
Dave received the answer he was expecting and they were married in a quiet ceremony by Rev. Smith. Dave felt that he could not go through another church wedding, and because Jennie was so understanding, she yielded her own desires to Dave’s wishes. Dave sensed her disappointment, but he appreciated her even more when she told him she had committed it to God, that she did not want her personal desires to mar their happiness. “Dear humble Jennie!” Dave thought.
“Would you feel too badly if we don’t take a honeymoon, Dearest?” he had also asked her. “You see, I—I—uh—Carol and I—uh …. “ Was he being selfish?
“It’s all right, Dave.” She tried to hide the disappointment revealed in her expressive face. “I know how hard it has been on you losing your first wife, and I don’t want to be responsible for opening old wounds.”
What a gal! Dave felt she was the greatest girl in the whole world. And to think, she belonged to him.
After the simple and plain wedding in Rev. Smith’s parlor, they drove to their little rented cottage about three miles out of town. As they stopped in front, Dave whispered, “My darling Mrs. Maddox, if I could show you my heart, then you would know how I feel. I love you, Jennie.”
“I love you, too, Dave,” she assured him. “More than you can possibly realize. God can help us to be a blessing to each other and to a lost world if we will obey Him. Let us pray, Dave, before we start our life together, that God will bless our marriage, that He will keep His hand upon us and help us to be all He wants us to be.”
“Sure, Jennie. You pray.”
The early weeks of their marriage passed swiftly as Dave and Jennie worked side by side painting the little cottage, sodding grass, planting flowers and shrubs and doing other things together which they both enjoyed. Jennie found satisfaction in preparing Dave’s meals and trying to please him in every way. Their happiness was complete except for one thing. Jennie missed her work for the Lord. She had promised Dave to give up her work at the hospital when they married, so now she hardly knew what to do.
As she was spading up a flower bed one morning, the Spirit whispered to her, “Is this the way you intend to spend the rest of your life?”
Jennie felt ashamed. “I’m sorry, Lord,” she repented. “I realize Thy vineyard is white unto harvest and the laborers are few. Reveal to me Thy precious will that I may do it.”
After much prayer and seeking God’s will, Jennie approached Dave. “Dave,” she ventured after the supper dishes had been cleared away and they were seated together on the sofa, “I feel condemned because I’m doing nothing for the Lord.”
“Doing nothing?” He opened his mouth in astonishment and stared at her. “How can you say that, Jennie? Of course, you’re doing something for God. Don’t you teach the young people’s class at church? And we always give Brother and Sister Cleveland a lift to church when they are able to attend. And didn’t you take out time to go with Mrs. Reiding to the doctor with her little boy? Sure you’re doing something for God.”
“You don’t understand, Dave. I stay home all day keeping house, cooking, washing, ironing, weeding flowers, and just idling time. God needs me. There are needy souls whom I need to try to reach.”
“Have you forgotten, Mrs. Maddox, that you are a married woman and that your life style has changed?” Dave’s voice sounded impatient.
“I know, Dave, but I thought if you would allow me to use the car, I could go to the hospital two or three days a week to visit the patients, as God leads, and read the Bible to them and try to lead some to Christ. I promise you, Dear,” she cuddled up close to him, “I won’t neglect you in any way. I’ll keep up all my work and will be here with your supper ready when you return from work. I’m sure John would be glad to give you a lift to work. He passes right by here and has the same working hours as you have.”
“You already have it all figured out, don’t you? Now, look Jennie, this issue was settled before we were married. Remember? You promised me you would quit working at the hospital?” His voice was stern. He had never spoken to her so sharply before.
‘‘I’m sorry, Dave, I didn’t mean to upset you. I don’t intend to resume my former duties at the hospital. I only want to try to help needy souls find God. I didn’t think you would mind as long as I was working for God, especially since I won’t neglect my duties at home.”
“Well, I do mind, Jennie. I don’t want my wife to be on the road all the time. I want you to stay at home where a wife belongs. Let’s not talk about it any more.”
The wounded look on her face caused Dave to take her in his arms. “I’m sorry I’ve hurt you, Baby. It’s just that I can’t bear to share you with others.”
Through blinding tears she gasped, “Dave, you surely can’t mean that. We must be around others if we are to win them to Christ. Precious souls are perishing, waiting for someone to give them the true gospel message. We are God’s instruments to get the message out.”
“Now, now, Jennie. It’s settled. Don’t ask again. Your responsibility is here.”
Jennie was stunned. When the clock struck two, she was yet wide awake. Troubled thoughts tumbled about in her mind. For the first time since their marriage she had misgivings.
“Dave, my darling, what has happened to you?” she whispered in the dark. Mentally, she reviewed the last few weeks, She recalled the mornings he had hurried through his private devotions, thus neglecting to feed his soul. Though she had been concerned, she had consoled herself with the thought that perhaps he prayed and meditated on the way to work. But summing it up now, she wondered if Dave had not slacked up in his devotions to God. Then, too, she recalled the Sunday Brother Smith had preached on sanctification, how the Spirit had been manifested in an unusual way as God dealt with hearts. She had noticed how Dave had been restless during the service and how he trembled as the altar call was given. She felt then that God was dealing with his heart, but as they had already discussed his need of sanctification before they were married, and Dave had gone to the altar and professed to have obtained the experience, she had not given it any more thought until now. But now, she wondered if Dave had refused to obey God that particular morning? Whatever the reason, something was definitely wrong with Dave, for one could not display such selfishness as he had shown and have a pure heart. Had he been mistaken in thinking he was sanctified wholly or had he rejected light somewhere along the way? “I must double up in praying for him,” she thought, “for the enemy is bidding high for his soul.”
“Wake up, Sleepy Head,” Dave was gently shaking her. “Is my sweet wife going to sleep all day? I want my breakfast.”
“I’m so sorry, Dave,” Jennie apologized looking at the clock. “My, I did oversleep, didn’t I? But I didn’t go to sleep until the early morning hours. Will you eat toast this morning instead of biscuits so we won’t have to miss our devotions together?”
“I like my biscuits, Mrs. Maddox,” he wheedled. “You shouldn’t have spoiled me with fluffy, hot biscuits in the mornings. You’re the world’s greatest cook, Sweetheart. As for our devotions together, it won’t hurt us to miss once in a while. You can pray after I’m gone.”
With a heavy heart, Jennie prepared Dave’s breakfast. She did not feel hungry herself. Besides she felt the need to fast.
“Aren’t you eating, Jennie?” Dave asked as he was buttering his biscuit.
“Not this morning, Dave.”
He looked sheepish as he hurried to finish his breakfast.
“I must go now, Dear. I’ll see you later. Be a good girl.”
“Dave,” Jennie pleaded, “can’t we pray a short prayer together? We have never missed our devotions.”
“Make it short then.”
Jennie attempted to pray but could do nothing but sob. Dave arose from his knees, pecked her on the cheek and left.
“Oh, God,” she groaned, “Somehow, some way, help Dave today. Show him the need of his heart and help him to obey Thee in every detail of his life. Help me to be faithful to his soul.” On and on, she prayed as her heart was tremendously burdened for her dear husband.
After this first recognition that Dave was slipping spiritually, Jennie watched with heavy heart, as days turned into weeks, and weeks became months, and Dave became more and more negligent. The atmosphere in the little cottage was greatly changed. Neither Dave nor Jennie doubted each other’s love, but the fellowship and mutual interest between them was lacking. Although Dave was kind and tender in many ways, he had lost interest in the things most precious to Jennie’s heart. Finally, he openly admitted his spiritual defeat. He no longer made any attempt to serve God.
“Why be a hypocrite?” he told Jennie. ‘‘I’m just a big failure so why not admit it?”
Jennie leaned heavily on her loving Heavenly Father through the many disappointments and trials. She found His grace sufficient, though at times it seemed her heart would break.
“Maybe when the baby comes, things will be different,” she thought wistfully. “Dave seems so anxious for a little son. Perhaps, God will use our precious little darling to soften his heart and cause him to come home to Father’s house.”
A few days later as Dave drove her to the hospital, she could not help but notice the troubled look on his countenance. Moving over close to him on the seat, she said softly, “Dave, please don’t worry about me; I’m sure everything is going to be all right. But if something should happen …. “
“Don’t talk like that, Jennie,” Dave interrupted. “Of course, I’m worried. I can’t help but worry.”
“Let us trust God, Dave. He has the situation in hand and He does all things well.”
“It’s easy for you to talk about trusting God, Jennie. With me it’s different; God would never hear my prayers after the way I have treated Him.”
“But, Dave, you can … Oh-h!” Another pain had hit her. “Drive a little faster, Dear. These pains are getting closer together.”
A few minutes later as they wheeled her into the delivery room, she squeezed Dave’s hand and whispered, “Turn to God wholeheartedly, Dave. His love and mercy is unlimited. “
Dave did not answer, but kissed her and turned away quickly. Going into the waiting room, he paced back and forth awaiting the delivery. The smoke from the cigarettes in the room made him cough so he stepped out into the hall for some fresh air and a drink of water. Then he made his way out to the sun parlor and watched a log floating down the river. Returning to the waiting room later, he met Dr. Hyde entering the room, also. Dave turned pale as he asked. “Is she all right, Doc?”
“She’s fine, Dave, but you almost did not make it to the hospital in time.”
Dave wiped beads of perspiration from his forehead. “The baby, Doc? Is it … ?”
“It’s fine, too.” The doctor stuck out his hand to Dave. “Congratulations! You have a six-pound, six-ounce daughter.”
“Whee-ee!” Dave half sat and half fell onto a chair.
Dr. Hyde laughed, “I think some of you expectant fathers are in worse shape than the mother by the time the baby is born.” He patted Dave on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Son. She is quite weak for she lost a lot of blood, but everything is going to be all right.”
“Thanks for everything, Doc. Jennie and I appreciate all your kindness to us.”
“It’s been a pleasure, Dave. Your wife has been so cooperative that it has made everything run smoothly. I wish all my patients were like Mrs. Maddox.”
“She’s a great gal, Doc.” Dave agreed.
As Jennie was taken back to her room, Dave followed the stretcher down the hall. How pale and weak Jennie looked between the white sheets. After she was put in her bed and the nurses had left, Dave pulled a chair close to her bedside. Holding her hand he whispered, “Jennie, dear, I love you. I’m so glad it’s over. I’m so ashamed of all the heartache I’ve caused you. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Jennie’s voice was hardly audible as she answered, “Of course, Dave, I have never held anything in my heart against you.” Dave had to put his ear to her lips to hear her. “Why don’t you tell God you’re sorry, Dear, and help me make a Christian home for little Joan?”
Tears came to Dave’s eyes as he said, “Jennie, my darling, you are so dear and precious to me, so pure and consistent. I didn’t really mean to go back on God, but after neglecting Him so long, my heart grew cold and I lost the desire to serve Him. I realized I was a failure so I just gave up. Anyway, Jennie, I can never be as good as you. You go ahead and make a Christian home for little Joan. I won’t hinder you, I promise. I love you, Jennie. Do you believe that?”
“Yes, Dave, I have no reason to doubt your love, but don’t you want to pray?”
“Not now. Maybe I will get back to God soon, but not now.”
“Dave,” her voice was just a whisper, “you cannot come to God any time you wish. It is only as the Spirit draws you, while the waters are troubled. Think of what God has done for us. Won’t you come home to Father’s house?”
“Not tonight, Jennie. I intend to get back to God, but not tonight. “
Two years later, Dave was still in a backslidden condition. Time and again, he would return home from work much later than necessary without bothering to apologize for keeping Jennie in suspense. His only explanation was that he was playing a little poker with the men at work. These were times of severe trial for Jennie. The devil attempted to drive her to despair, but as Job of old, she yet retained her integrity.
“If I was out of God’s will in marrying him, I can blame no one but myself,” she thought. I should have made him wait longer, but we were so much in love, Dave was so insistent, he needed me so, and he was so thoroughly changed after his conversion, that it seemed perfectly right at the time.” Shaking her head as if to clear her mind she said aloud, “Well, no use condemning myself. We’re married now and it’s until death and I love him so truly.” Dropping on her knees beside a chair she prayed, “Oh, God, somehow bring him to repentance.”
“Oh, God, bring him to pentance.” It was little Joan kneeling beside her.
“Little darling, I didn’t know you were awake.” Jennie took her in her arms and hugged her tightly. “My precious baby, what would I do without you?”
She arose from her knees just as the door flew open and Dave entered. He grabbed them both in his arms as he greeted them. “Good evening, Jennie. Hi, Joan. How’s Daddy’s baby?”
“Da-da.” Joan held out her arms to him and he took her from Jennie and held her close.
“Da-da smell bad,” Joan pulled back from Dave, wrinkling up her little nose. Jennie, too, had caught a whiff of the tobacco smoke.
“Oh no, Dave, you haven’t been smoking?” Jennie was alarmed.
“Why not? If I’m going to be a sinner, may as well enjoy it all.”
“But, Dave, you promised me you would never smoke again.”
“And I have broken my promise. Bad, bad Dave,” he mocked.
Jennie turned from him. There was no use trying to reason with him for he never listened to her any more. Her only hope was in God.
Jennie was quieter than usual at mealtime and this provoked Dave. “Preach, preach, preach, from morning until night,” he said angrily pushing his chair back from the table. Going into the bedroom, Jennie heard him moving about and slamming things around. In a little while, he came out with his suitcase.
She could not hide her surprise. “Dave, where are you going? What are you doing with your suitcase?”
“I’m leaving,” he yelled. “I’m tired of being preached to.”
“Please, Dave, be fair. Do I really preach at you from morning until night? You know I hardly ever say anything to you about God, unless I feel especially moved on to speak. Please don’t leave, Dave. I love you so.” She was in tears by now.
“Please don’t leave, Da-da. I love you.”
Dave looked from Joan to Jennie. She read the love in his eyes in spite of the hard front.
“I’ll stay on the condition you ‘ll let me run my own life,” he answered, his voice a little softer now.
“I can’t keep you from running your life, Dave. I can’t make bargains with you, though, at the price of grieving God. I must obey Him at any cost.” She took a step toward him and with a pleading voice, she asked, “What’s the matter with us, Dave? We were so happy together at first. Have I failed somewhere? If so, please forgive me for I love you so much and I want to be a good wife.”
He set down his suitcase and for a moment Jennie thought he was going to take her in his arms, but instead he turned and walked over to the sofa and sat down.
“Put my clothes back in the closet,” he ordered. “I’ll try it a while longer.” He picked up the newspaper and buried his face in it, signifying that their conversation was ended.
Nothing Jennie did after this seemed to please Dave. Time and time again, he stomped out of the house, slammed the door behind him and left in a rage. It was not uncommon for him to come staggering in around midnight under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Jennie leaned more and more heavily upon God.
“I believe that somehow, some way, at any cost, Father, that Thou will bring him back to Thyself. If I didn’t have this faith in Thee, my heart would break.” She prayed by the hour each day, fasting often as the burden grew greater.
As was Jennie’s usual custom on Sunday morning, she dressed Joan and herself for church. As always, she turned to Dave, “Won’t you join us today, Dear? We miss you so badly.”
It appeared to her that he had almost weakened in his resolve not to go on this particular Sunday morning. He looked her in the eye a few moments as if he wanted to say something, but then he dropped his head and said the usual, “Not today, Jennie.” So she and Joan drove off without him. With all his contrariness, Dave had never tried to keep her and Joan from attending church. No doubt, God knew she needed the strength she derived from the services to continue; thus, He restrained Dave from hindering her.
“Look how happy Becky and Sam are together with their new baby,” the devil whispered as she sat in the pew. “You know you could have had Sam and been spared all this grief and heartache.”
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” she answered the accuser. “I love Dave in spite of the heartaches and griefs he has caused me, and God will see me through.”
Brother Smith took his text from Isaiah 43:2. “When thou passeth through the waters,” he read, “I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” He closed his Bible and stood silently a few seconds taking inventory of his congregation. One could feel the Holy Spirit settling down as Brother Smith was a man of prayer who depended on God’s help to deliver his message. Here and there, one would take out a handkerchief and dab it to his eyes. Jennie’s heart burned within her as the Spirit prepared her for the message. She wiped her eyes and sat erect with Joan on her lap awaiting Brother Smith’s next words.
“Brothers and sisters,” he addressed his audience, “I feel a peculiar burden this morning. There is someone in our midst who is going through deep and troubled waters, and I feel the worst is yet to come. As we pray this morning, let us pray especially for this one that God will give extra grace and strength unto them just as He gave unto Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Remember, Beloved, it was in the fire that the Son of God was seen. If you are going through fiery trials, keep sweet in your soul. Guard against a root of bitterness.” Jennie’s heart was pounding. Was God sending this message especially to her?
“Let Jesus be seen in your life,” Brother Smith continued. “Remember, King Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction when he saw one like unto the Son of God with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. Never would he have been won to the true and living God, had they bowed to his golden image. Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver from the fiery furnace; but if not, be it known we will not bow. Praise the name of the Lord!”
If Jennie could have seen what was going on back in the little cottage, she would have understood even better why God had sent this particular message.
Dave was pacing the floor and moaning, “Oh, God, I didn’t intend to go so far.” Taking down his suitcase, he began, hurriedly to pack his clothes. “I can’t stand to look into those sad eyes another day, so pure and full of love,” he said aloud. “I hate myself. If only she would bawl me out or run me off or something, but that sweet, gentle way of hers drives me crazy. If ever there was a Christian walking on earth, Jennie Maddox is that one. I must clear out this morning before she gets home from church.” He broke down and cried, “My dear sweet Jennie and Joan, I really and truly love you, but I’m a rotten husband and father. I don’t deserve either of you. Maybe you will find happiness after I’m gone.” He wrote a note and then picked up the receiver and dialed his previous landlady’s telephone number.
“Hello. This is Dave Maddox. Do you happen to have an extra room available that I may rent?”
“A room, Dave? For you and your wife?” she asked in surprise. “Why, I thought you were well satisfied with your little cottage.”
“I’ll explain later, Mrs. Halloway. Do you or do you not have a room?”
“Why yes, Dave. In fact, the very same apartment you rented before is vacant. You see, the couple who were renting it have been having trouble and they finally split up and moved out. I told them about you, how ornery you once were and how you joined the church and you married the best Christian girl in the world, and how wonderful you two get along, and …. “
Dave interrupted, “Mrs. Halloway, I’m in a hurry. I’ll see you in a little while.” He hung up the phone and grabbed his suitcase. “Old lady Halloway is in for quite a surprise,” he said as he slammed the door behind him. Stopping in his tracks. he turned back, picked up the receiver again and called a cab. He took the extra set of car keys out of his pocket, threw them on the table, and left again. Standing at his gate, awaiting the cab, he glanced up at the big oak tree. The leaves were waving gently in the breeze, the same way they had done when he was first saved. “They seemed to be waving at me for joy that morning,” he recalled. “This morning they seem to be telling me good-bye.” Dave took out his handkerchief and mopped his forehead. Looking down the road, he remarked, “Wonder what’s taking the cab so long?”
When Jennie drove into the driveway, her cat stood up, stretched itself, yawned, and jumped off the doorstep where he had been sunning himself.
“Purty kitty.” Joan clapped her hands in delight. “Kitty jump down.”
Jennie smiled and lifted her from the car. “Pretty kitty,” she agreed with Joan. “Come here, Tiger. Come see me and Joan.” She stroked his back and then walked toward the house, wondering in what kind of mood she would find Dave. The message of the morning had strengthened her and she felt she had received extra grace to endure her many trials. Opening the door, she saw Dave’s note propped up by the telephone. Picking it up she read, “Jennie, I’ve felt for some time that I should leave. All I do is make life miserable for you and Joan. I’ll see that you receive money for your support. Good-bye and good luck. Dave.”
Jennie fell into a chair with her hands to her face. “Oh no,” she moaned, “Not this. Oh, God, how can I stand it? Dave, Dave, why did you do it? I love you so. I don’t think I can bear to live without you. Oh, God, help me.”
“What matta, Ma-ma? Don’t cry.” Joan patted her cheek.
Jennie gathered her baby in her arms trying to reassure her.
“Da-da, Da-da.” Joan wriggled out of Jennie’s arms and ran from room to room searching for Dave.
“Daddy’s gone, Baby,” Jennie told her with the tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Da-da gone bye-bye.” Joan clapped her hands and laughed.
How could Jennie make a two-year-old understand that Daddy was gone for good? That he would not be back to jostle her on his knee, carry her on his shoulders, caress her silky, black curls, kiss her rosy cheeks and sing a lullaby to her? Picking her up in her arms and holding her close, she prayed, “Oh, God, extend extra grace to Thy servant that I may be able to bear up under this fiery trial.”
“Joan’s hungry, Ma-ma,” the little girl interrupted her prayer.
“Of course you are, Darling. Here, sit in your little chair and I will get you some lunch.”
After feeding Joan and putting her to bed for her afternoon nap, Jennie fell across her own bed and gave vent to her feelings again. Sobbing hysterically she called Dave’s name over and over. “Dave, Dave, why, oh why did you leave me’? How can I stand it?”
“Oh God,” she cried brokenly, “this is so hard to bear. Give me strength, Jesus. And Dear Lord,” she sobbed from a broken heart, “follow Dave wherever he goes. He must be most miserable.”
Crying and praying until her eyes were red and swollen and her strength exhausted, she at last was quieted and lay silent with troubled thoughts until Joan awakened and called for her.
The days without Dave seemed aimless. Jennie slept fitfully at night, starting up at the slightest noise, wondering if it could be Dave returning; dreaming that he was by her side, only to awaken to realize with renewed anguish that she was alone. The restless nights left her exhausted and her nerves strained to the breaking point.
Joan’s incessant baby talk would try Jennie’s patience and she would scold her. Troubled at her own impatience, she would take little Joan into her arms, kiss her, and tell her she was sorry.
Being under constant mental pressure made it difficult for Jennie to pray, and she would find her mind wandering as she tried to read her Bible. The devil took advantage of this situation and whispered suggestions that she was losimg out in her soul. Jennie found herself fighting spiritual battles, mental pressure, and physical fatigue. Satan derided her with, “God has forsaken you as well as Dave. You have grieved Him or you would not be losing your desire for communion with Him.”
As Jennie dressed for church one Sunday morning, darkness seemed to engulf her soul. She dropped to her knees and cried in anguish, “Oh, God, speak to me. I have never been more desperate to hear from heaven. Show me if I have grieved Thee.”
She waited in silence and expectation. Opening her Bible, she read these words, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Thank you, Jesus,” Jennie whispered gratefully. “I will trust Thee where I cannot understand for I know Thou art with me and will never fail me or forsake me.”
After this reassurance, Jennie felt especially close to God for days. New strength came to her as she rested in Him. She quit trying to carry her burden for Dave all alone. The self-accusations ceased, and her mind, soul, and body were renewed.
Jennie began to long for something more purposeful to fill her days. She considered returning to nursing, the work she had loved at the hospital; but she thought, “I must put baby Joan before my own wishes. She needs me more than ever now. But there must be something I can do. I don’t feel God would have me sit here day after day grieving over things that are beyond my control.”
Looking to God for guidance, He spoke one morning while she was praying, “Go visit Mrs. Bostick, the widow.”
“Yes, Lord,” she answered submissively.
After breakfast, she dressed Joan, and together they drove the four miles to Mrs. Bostick’s. Jennie was not well acquainted with her, but when driving by the house she had often seen the elderly lady working in her yard tending the flower beds.
“Good morning, Mrs. Bostick,” she greeted her upon arriving at her house.
“Good morning.” Mrs. Bostick gave her a questioning look. “Come in, Mrs.—uh …. “
“Maddox,” Jennie finished for her.
“That’s right, Mrs. Maddox. I just couldn’t seem to remember your name. How are you today?”
‘‘I’m well, thank you. How are you?”
“Not too good, Ma’am, not too good. This old ticker of mine ‘bout plays out on me sometimes, but I’m glad I’m still able to get around. Say, that’s a cute little tyke you’ve got there.” Turning to Joan, she said, “Hello, Honey.”
“Hi,” Joan smiled sweetly.
After a few minutes of casual conversation, Jennie stated her mission. “Mrs. Bostick, I felt God wanted me to visit you today. Are you a Christian?”
“Now listen, Ma’am, I don’t want to be rude, but I ain’t one for this religious stuff. I’ve seen enough hypocrites in my day to disgust anybody. So—o, if it’s all right with you, we’ll drop the subject.”
Jennie prayed silently. “Lord, you sent me here. Please give me wisdom as to what to do now.” Looking at Mrs. Bostick she said, “Mrs. Bostick, I can see where you would be disgusted on account of hypocrites, but God has many people who are genuine Christians. I attend a small church not far from here, and I have confidence in most of the folk who attend there. They live lives that measure up to what they profess. Would you consider attending church with us, if Joan and I came by on Sundays to pick you up?”
“No, I wouldn’t,” she replied bluntly.
As Jennie was at a loss to know how to continue on the subject that was dearest to her heart, she changed the conversation. “Your flowers are lovely, Mrs. Bostick. “As the old saying goes, you must have a green thumb.”
A smile spread over Mrs. Bostick’s face. Jennie could tell she had hit on the right topic.
Rising from her seat and pushing open the screen door, Mrs. Bostick asked, “Would you like to see my flowers, Mrs. Maddox?”
“I would be delighted, Jennie assured her as she arose and took Joan by the hand.
Following Mrs. Bostick from one flower to another, Jennie showed much interest as Mrs. Bostick commented on each flower as only a flower lover can. Later, as she was leaving she told her, ”I have enjoyed the visit with you very much, Mrs. Bostick, and I will be praying for you.”
The same scowl appeared on Mrs. Bostick’s face as she replied coldly, “Thank you, Mrs. Maddox, and call again.”
“I will, Mrs. Bostick. Good day.”
“There’s no doubt but that God sent me,” Jennie meditated as she drove away. “But she sure was hard to talk to about her soul. Oh well, I guess it will take time and prayer to break down the barrier.” Silently, she prayed, “Dear Jesus, help me to win her to Thee some way. Give wisdom from above.”
Glancing over at little Joan standing in the seat beside her, she asked, “Joan, how would you like to visit Brother and Sister Cleveland? They don’t get to attend church regularly, and I’m sure they must get lonesome. Maybe we can bring a little sunshine into their lives.” Again she repeated, “Wanna go see Cleveland?”
“See Cleveland,” Joan clapped her hands and laughed.
As they pulled into the driveway, Bimbo, the dog, ran out to greet them with a friendly bark and a wagging tail.
“Doggy,” Joan exclaimed with delight.
“Hello, Bimbo.” Jennie patted his head.
“Why, good morning” Jennie,” Mr. Cleveland greeted from the doorway. “Come in, come in. So glad to see you and how’s my little girl today? Hello, Joan.”
“Hi, Cleveland.” Joan reached out her little hand to his big outstretched one.
“She’s a doll, Jennie,” he said admiringly.
“I’m thankful for her, Brother Cleveland. She’s a great comfort to me these days.”
“Come on in, Jennie.” He held the door open. “Mom’s not feeling well today. She’ll be so glad to see you. With all your trouble, it seems as if you would not think of …. “ his words trailed off.
“Mom,” he called as he entered the house. “Look who has come to see us.”
“Bless your heart, my dear,” Mrs. Cleveland exclaimed as she caught sight of her visitors. “This is the best tonic I could have had today. Hi there, Joan. Come and love Cleveland.”
Little Joan walked over obediently and reached up her arms to Mrs. Cleveland.
“You sweet little doll,” Mrs. Cleveland said as she hugged her to herself. To Jennie she said, “You have a precious jewel, Jennie, dear. God was certainly good to you to send you little Joan.”
“Yes, I know. I’m really thankful for His blessings. My life would be terribly lonely without Joan.”
An hour passed quickly as they enjoyed sweet fellowship together after which Jennie offered prayer and left for home. The remainder of the day Jennie spent doing necessary chores about the house. She found herself humming about her work.
“Truly the harvest is ripe and the laborers are few.” she said. “I must try to labor harder in God’s vineyard. She felt especially interested in Mrs. Bostick and purposed to do all she could to win her to God.
“Lord, soften her heart toward the things of Cod,” she prayed. “Break down every barrier and use me in some way to win her unto Thee.”
Once again Jennie had found a field in which to labor, so she spent many days in visitation work. Once a week she visited Mrs. Bostick and had succeeded in winning her confidence. Now instead of the frown that had previously greeted her, Mrs. Bostick’s face lit up with a smile when she saw Jennie corning.
“And just think, Joan, she has promised to go to church with us Sunday,” Jennie said happily as they returned horne one day.
“Go to church,” repeated Joan.
After reaching home, she fed Joan and tucked her in for her afternoon nap. She then picked up her Bible and settled down in a chair to read. As usual, a heaviness settled down upon her and tears came into her eyes. “Dave,” she sighed, “I miss you so.” He had never even called her since he had left. The only contact at all was the support check which he faithfully mailed to her each week.
“Dear Lord,” she prayed, “wherever he is, speak to him just now. Don’t let him continue on in the way he’s going. Stop him some way, somehow.”
That night she awoke from a troubled sleep with a tremendous burden. The Scripture verse, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy,” was impressed strongly on her mind. She fell out of bed and onto her knees. “Oh, God,” she prayed, “I feel that Dave is in danger. Hover over him, Lord. Don’t let him go out into eternity in a backslidden condition.” She groaned and prayed until the burden lifted and she felt God had undertaken in behalf of Dave. She went back to bed but was unable to sleep the remainder of the night.
The next afternoon, her mother called. “Hello, Jennie are you all right?”
“Why, yes, Mother, I’m fine. Just tired as I didn’t rest too well last night. How are you?”
“Not too good, Jen, but I was wondering if you would like me to come out and spend a few days with you?”
“Why, Mother, I’d be delighted. But … on second thought,” she added. “I know how hard it is for you to stay away from home at night so don’t inconvenience yourself for me and Joan. We’re making it fine. Don’t worry about us.”
There was a slight pause on the other end of the line. Then her mother spoke again in a strained voice, “Jen, did you—uh—do you. Uh—I don’t believe you have seen—uh …. “
“Mother, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, I was just wondering if you have heard—uh—if you have seen today’s newspaper?”
“No, not yet. My neighbor usually brings my newspaper when he comes by from work.” She glanced at the clock. “That will be a couple of hours yet. Is there something of importance in the news? I usually just scan the headlines.”
“Well-uh, I’ll just wait and let you read it, Jen dear.” Was Mother crying? She could hardly talk.
“I must go now, Jennie. I love you and I’m praying for you. Good-bye, Dear.”
“Wait a minute, Mother.” But Jennie heard the click on the other end of the line. She started to call her back but decided against it.
“She sounded so troubled,” Jennie thought as she replaced the receiver. “I wonder what’s wrong. Oh well, I’ll not worry. Mother is easily excited and takes everyone’s troubles to heart. Bless her.”
She reached for Joan’s little sunbonnet. “Come on, baby, let’s go pull the grass from our pansies.”
Joan’s face lit up in a big smile.
“My little sweetie,” whispered Jennie in Joan’s ear as she tied the strings under her chin and planted a kiss on her cheek. “I’m so thankful God gave you to me. You bring much joy to Mommy.”
“Bring joy,” Joan faithfully echoed as they walked out the door hand in hand.
In spite of Jennie’s self-admonition to remain calm, troubled thoughts kept running through her mind. Had something happened to Dave? No, Mother would have surely told her if that had been the case. There was no use borrowing trouble. But why did Mother sound so alarmed? Jennie shaded her eyes and looked up the road. Would Mr. Morgan ever come with the Daily News?
“Purty flower,” exclaimed Joan holding up a hand full of Jennie’s lovely pansies.
“No, no, Joan. Let’s not pull the flowers, just the grass.
See, Mommy is pulling up the grass.”
“Ma-ma pull grass.”
“Maybe I should go call Mother back and insist she tell me what’s wrong.” Jennie’s hand had begun to shake until she, too, was pulling pansies instead of grass. “This suspense is getting the best of me,” she thought as she straightened up to rest her back.
“A car,” Joan exclaimed excitedly pointing toward the road. “Look, Ma-ma, Smith.” She was hopping from one foot to the other and clapping her hands.
“Well, it sure is Smith, Joan.” Jennie pulled off her work gloves and attempted to straighten her hair. Walking toward the car that had now stopped, she extended her hands.
“This is a pleasant surprise, Brother and Sister Smith. I’m always so happy to have you pay me a visit.”
“It’s good to see you too, Jennie. And how’s Joan? What a little dear!”
“Joan saw you first. She told me Smith was coming.”
They smiled briefly. “Come on in,” Jennie invited and started toward the house.
“Here, Joan, let Smith carry you,” Brother Smith reached out his hands and Joan walked over to him. He picked her up and they all went inside.
“Be seated,” Jennie motioned toward the sofa. Her heart was pounding wildly. The troubled look on her pastor’s countenance revealed the fact that this was not a social visit. Her burden the night before and the Scripture verse God had impressed so vividly on her mind seemed to stand out before her. The Smiths looked at each other as if expecting the other to relate the reason for their call. Jennie noticed that Sister Smith’s eyes were red as if she had been weeping. She prayed for grace and strength and then opened the conversation herself. “Brother Smith, I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I suspect you have brought me bad news. You see, God woke me up around midnight last night with a heavy burden and the Scripture, ‘He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy: was ringing in my ears. Has something happened to Dave?” She held on to the back of a chair, gripping it tightly. Her cheeks seemed to be drained of all color and she felt faint.
Sister Smith gave her husband a searching glance and then arose from the sofa, walked over to Jennie and put her arms about her. “Dave was involved in a car wreck, Dear, and he is in the hospital. Your mother called and asked us to come out and bear the news to you.”
So that was the reason her mother had acted so strangely.
“How badly is Dave hurt?” Jennie held her breath, afraid of the answer.
“We do not know, dear. The news report said, ‘extent of injuries undetermined.’ “
Jennie clutched at her heart and dropped to her knees. “Let us pray,” she choked.
They knelt together to call on the One who had promised He would never leave them nor forsake them. Jennie sobbed her heart out.
“Oh, Lord, I have been praying ‘at any cost.’ Wilt Thou use this to call him back to the fold?” she prayed desperately. “Keep Thy hand on him, dear Lord, and don’t let him slip out into eternity, a lost and doomed soul. Oh-h, God, give added strength and grace to Thy child. I cannot make it without Thy help. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
“We’ll drive you by the hospital if you want to go,” Brother Smith offered.
“Thank you, Brother Smith. Let me get Joan’s clothes. I’ll leave her at Mother’s.”
A little while later they stopped at Ninth and Chester.
“Jennie, darling, I’m so sorry,” her mother sobbed as she threw her arms around her. “We wonder why all this had to happen, for Dave was such a wonderful Christian when you married him. Who would have ever thought he would turn out to be so wicked?”
“Now, now, Mother. Dave has some good qualities. The devil just has a hold on him, and we must continue to fast and pray until the devil’s power is broken and Dave is set free through the blood of Jesus.”
“God bless you, Dear, and give you extra grace and strength,” her mother whispered as she kissed her goodbye. “Don’t worry about little Joan. I’ll take the best of care her.”
“I know you will, Mother. Bye-bye” Joan. Be a good girl and Mommy will see you later.”
“Bye-bye, Ma-ma.’ Joan held out her arms to hug her another good-bye.
“Room 507,” she was told when she reached the hospital.
“We will visit Dave later, Jennie,” Rev. Smith assured her, “and be sure to call on us when you need us.”
“Thanks for everything, Brother Smith. Pray for us.”
“That poor girl,” Sister Smith remarked as they walked back to the car. “How could Dave crush her so, when she’s like an angel?”
Dave’s eyes were closed when she slipped, breathlessly, into the room. His head was bandaged and his left eye was swollen shut. His left leg was in a cast. It took much self-control for Jennie to keep from crying out.
Dave seemed to sense someone’s presence and opened his one good eye.
“Hi, Jennie,” he said sheepishly. “You came?”
“You don’t hate me?”
“Nothing you could do would make me hate you.”
“Then you know?”
“ About the wreck and . . . and. . . .”
“All I know is that you were in a wreck around midnight last night.”
“How did you find out?”
“Brother Smith and his wife came out and told me.”
“Then you haven’t seen the newspaper?”
He was silent.
“Are you hurt badly, Dave?” she continued the conversation.
“A cut on the head and this eye is giving me trouble. I hope I don’t lose the sight of it. Also, I have a few broken ribs and this old left leg is broken again.”
“Must have been a terrible wreck.”
“Only a miracle saved us from going into a big canal. We were headed right toward it, but somehow the car swerved and hit a telephone pole. That’s all that saved us.”
“Oh-h, thank you Jesus.” Jennie no longer tried to control her tears. “This happened around midnight, didn’t it, Dave?”
“Yes, how did you know?”
“The Lord showed me. That was when the burden lifted.”
“You mean you were praying for me at midnight? No wonder …. “ His voice trailed off.
God gave me the burden, Dave. It was His faithfulness to keep you out of hell. Oh-h, what if I had failed to pray?” She buried her head in her hands. Neither spoke for a while.
“Dave,” she asked after a few moments, “Who was with you? You said, ‘only a miracle saved us from the canal.’ Was he hurt badly?”
Dave sighed and turned his face away from her.
The door opened and a young nurse came in to give Dave a shot. Seemingly glad of the interruption, Dave perked up. “If you don’t stop giving me so many shots, you will have me looking like a pin cushion,” he joked. Then nodding his head toward Jennie, he said, “Meet my wife, Miss … excuse me, I forgot your name.”
“Miss Wilson meet Mrs. Maddox.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Maddox.” Then with a surprised look she questioned, “Your wife, did you say?”
Dave dropped his eyes. “Yes,” he answered meekly.
“Well, what do you know? I thought I read in the paper.
.. “ Dave gave her a hard look so she left her sentence unfinished and walking over to the bed, she said, “Here, Mr. Maddox, let me give you this shot. How are you feeling today?”
“Fair,” Dave answered. “My leg is causing me lots of pain. I’ve had this old leg broken before.”
“The same leg?”
“Yes, the same leg.”
My, Mr. Maddox, you had better be careful when you get over this. You wouldn’t want to be a cripple for life.” Turning to go, she added, “Try to get some rest.” Smiling at Jennie she said, “Nice meeting you, Mrs. Maddox. Keep this young man in bed and make him behave himself.”
“I’ll do my best.” Jennie returned her smile. Winking at Dave, she added, “He can be stubborn sometimes.”
After the door closed behind the nurse, Jennie asked, “You’re trying to keep something from me, aren’t you, Dave? Was the man killed that was with you?”
Dave looked her in the eye but the color drained from his face as he answered, “Jennie, you will hate me when I tell you what I’m going to, but you will find it out anyway because it was in the newspaper. I wasn’t with a man; I was with a woman.”
Jennie gasped, “Oh no, Dave, you haven’t gone that far, have you?”
“Yes, Jennie, I’ve stooped about as low as a human can stoop, I guess. We were both drunk. I picked her up at the bar.” He winced at the shocked look on Jennie’s face. “I’m sorry I’ve disgraced you, Jennie, and crushed you beyond measure. You can start divorce proceedings immediately.”
“Oh no, Dave, not that. The Bible teaches ‘Until death do us part.’ “
“But after the way I’ve treated you, Jennie, God does not expect you to, put up with me any longer.”
“You can still make amends, Dave, and save our home.”
“Impossible, with all the scandal.”
“Scandals have been lived down before and with God’s help and grace, we can do it again. If you will humble yourself before God, confessing everything and forsaking all your sins; there’s forgiveness with Him. The Bible declares ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.’ Dave, throw yourself on the mercy of God and confess everything to, Him in true repentance.”
“It’s not easy to, get back to, God, Jennie, after the way I’ve lived. I have been trying to, pray but it’s as if the heavens were brass.”
Jennie reached in her purse and took out a small Testament. “Here, let me read you something from Matthew 12:43-45. ‘When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.’
“That’s why it’s so, hard for you to, pray, Dave. You have willingly disobeyed Cod and walked against light. God really transformed your life at one time, but you have spurned His love and trampled His blood under your feet, so, to, speak, and it seems that seven other spirits more wicked than the first are grappling at your soul.”
Dave yawned. The sedative was beginning to, take effect and made him feel drowsy. Jennie prayed silently that God would keep him awake and give him an alert mind as she faithfully tried to show him how serious it is to trifle with God.
“God is merciful,” she continued, “but you will have to show Him you mean business, Dave.” Her voice was compassionate. “I want to try to help you locate yourself. Do you remember the Sunday morning Brother Smith preached on sanctification, a second definite work of grace, under the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit.
“Yes, Jennie,” he humbly acknowledged, “I remember it as if it were yesterday.”
“Didn’t God talk to your heart that morning, Dave? I know you had professed to be sanctified before then, but I have seen other people under conviction and from all appearances, God was dealing with you.”
“You’re right, Jennie. Throughout the message, God talked to me, revealing the depravity of my carnal heart. True, I had professed to be sanctified, but God showed me that morning that I had come short of the blessing and that I needed my heart cleansed from its impurities through the power of the Blood. The Spirit urged me strongly to go to the altar and seek His fullness, but I resisted His wooings. I reasoned with my own heart that everybody thought I was sanctified and it would be humiliating to confess my need before this congregation of people. So, I failed to move out, thinking I would seek God at home for my need. But you see how it all turned out. Instead of going forward with God, I began to lose ground.”
“Dave, when God speaks, that’s the time to move. He, no doubt, saw you needed to humble yourself before everybody and confess your wrong in professing what you did not have. This could have been the very thing that would have brought victory. But no use grieving over what should have been done back there. Let’s start from that point. You have confessed, Dave, that it was after this that you began to lose ground. You were on a spiritual decline. Right?”
“Right, Jennie. Things went from bad to worse after that. “
“I think if you would start right there, when you came up against the light of holiness and rejected that light, and ask God’s forgiveness and truly repent of all your sins, I believe He would hear your prayers and forgive your transgressions. God is far more merciful than you and I can realize, Dave.”
Dave wiped his eyes with the corner of the sheet. The faithful Holy Spirit had used Jennie’s words of wisdom to help him to see just where he had lost out with God, but that a door of mercy was still open unto him if he would come to God in true repentance.
“Pray for me, Jennie,” he cried brokenly. “I’m sick and tired of the life I’m living.”
Once again, the door was opened and an aide came in to check his temperature.
“Why what’s wrong, Mr. Maddox? Is something hurting you?”
“Yes, my heart—or maybe I should say my conscience. I am sick, sick, sick of myself and sin. My dear Christian wife is going to pray that God will be merciful unto my poor sin-sick soul as soon as you are through here.”
“Oh, excuse me, Sir,” she said nervously as she popped the thermometer in his mouth and began checking his pulse rate.
Jennie sat silently praying that God would intervene and help them to have no more interruptions. As the door closed behind the aide, Jennie said, “Let’s pray, Dave. Confess everything. Don’t spare yourself. It’s the only way to victory.
Dave did as he was instructed and as the Spirit prompted. Jennie could hardly comprehend the depths of sin to which Dave had gone. At times, she thought she could not stand to hear another confession, but somehow, God reached underneath her with His everlasting arms of mercy and held her up, keeping the burden of prayer on her until Dave paid the price, repented of every sin and believed God for forgiveness. Then God, so rich in love and mercy, blotted out every stain, and cast his sins in the sea of forgetfulness to be remembered against him no more, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus, redeemed by the precious blood.
“Praise the Lord forever,” Jennie held her hands over her mouth to keep from getting too iced. “Glory be to God! Thank you, dear Jesus!” she exclaimed as she felt the witness of the spirit to Dave’s regeneration.
Dave wept aloud as Jennie fell into his arms.
“Oh, I’ve missed you so, Jennie.”
“And I’ve missed you terribly, Dave.”
“What would have happened to me, Jennie, if you hadn’t been faithful? I can’t bear to think of it, but I would be burning in hell right now.”
What a time of rejoicing they had together as the angels bent low to witness the memorable scene. Jennie felt as near to heaven as she ever hoped to while living on earth.
“Dave, whatever you do, walk in the light, and let God sanctify you wholly,” she admonished him. “We are no match for the devil, and if you don’t let God rid you of the sin principle in your heart, it will drag you down again.”
“But I feel so pure, so clean and peaceful. Such a burden has lifted off my heart that I can’t see how I can ever be trapped again.”
“You underestimate the power of the devil, my dear. Keep your heart open and God will lead you.”
The next few weeks were busy ones for Jennie. When she was not in Dave’s room, she was visiting the patients, praying with them and trying to lead them to Christ. She did not forget Mrs. Bostick’s promise to attend church and made arrangements with her pastor’s wife to furnish her transportation.
“Dear Jesus,” she prayed concerning her, “Grant that this will be a brand plucked from the burning.”
Walking down the hall one day, she met Dr. Leary, the heart specialist.
“Why if it isn’t Miss Taylor—uh-Mrs …. “
“Maddox,” she told him.
“Mrs. Maddox, I’m so delighted to see you again. I have been wondering about you, especially of late.”
“That’s nice of you to think of me, Dr. Leary.” She remembered how kind he had always been to her when others were often rude.
“Since I married, I no longer work, but Dave was in a car wreck and as he recuperates, I have been doing a little work for the Lord. Some of the patients appreciate Bible reading and prayer.”
“That’s your life, isn’t it, Mrs. Maddox?”
“I love to work for God, Doctor. He’s been so good to Dave and me.”
“Dave Maddox? Oh yes, he was one of my patients a few years back. I have never forgotten him. The thing I remembered about him was his radiant smile and his testimony about having a heart change. But,” he stopped as if something had suddenly dawned upon him. “I don’t understand.” He hesitated as if embarrassed, then continued, “The paper said he was-was …. “
“Under the influence of intoxicating liquor,” Jennie finished for him knowing there was no use trying to avoid the truth.
“Also, his companion was-uh-she wasn’t. … “
“No, it wasn’t me, Doctor, and I can assure you this has been very grievous to me. You see – Dave failed God and went back into deep sin, but thanks to God’s faithfulness, he has been forgiven and restored to God’s fold since he has been in the hospital.”
“You mean he has rededicated his life? What a shame, though, that all of his works will be lost.”
“I see you don’t understand, Doctor. Not only would his works have been lost, but his soul would have been lost as well. After he went back into sin and took up his old habits, he was no longer a Christian. Had he died in that condition, he would have gone to hell.”
“How could this have been possible, Mrs. Maddox, after he had once been saved? Does the Bible verify your statement?”
“Do you have a few minutes to spare, Dr. Leary? I would be glad to discuss this issue with you. We can walk down to the lounge at the end of the hall.”
“Sure, I can spare a few minutes. I would like to hear what you have to say on the subject.”
They walked together down the hall and found a seat in the corner of the lounge. Jennie resumed the conversation. “If we read and study the Bible carefully, Doctor, we find many Scriptures that will verify what I have said, such as Matthew 10:22; ‘But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ John 15:1-6 tells of unfruitful branches cut off and burned and Hebrews 6:4, 6 speaks of ‘falling away.’ “ Taking her Testament from her purse, she opened it to II Peter 2:20-22 and read, “ ‘For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.’
“So you see, Doctor,” she said in way of explanation, “If one could go to heaven in a backslidden condition, why does the Bible say the latter end is worse with them than the beginning, meaning the backslidden state is worse than before one was saved? You will agree with me that it is impossible for one to get to heaven, after reaching the age of accountability, unless they have been born again?”
“Yes, I agree with that.”
“Then why does the Bible say that it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, meaning it was better that one had never been saved, than after they had known the way to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them? This is speaking of one who had been saved but had turned back on God, or backslidden.”
“I confess I am confused, Mrs. Maddox, but according to what you have read from the Bible, one is in a worse state when they are backslidden than they were before they were saved.”
“You’re right, Doctor. Now, do you think that God would say a backslider is in a worse condition than a sinner, if He would permit a backslider to go to heaven, and yet ascribe a poor lost sinner to hell?”
“I must admit it does not sound reasonable.”
“It isn’t reasonable, Doctor. What you believe is an error and a contradiction to God’s Word.”
“I guess I really do not know much about the Bible, Mrs. Maddox. I have, more or less, depended on what I have been taught all my life. But tell me, how can you be sure that your husband won’t backslide again?”
“I have no guarantee that he won’t, but if he will let God eradicate the old sin principle, which is carnality, from his heart, now that he is reclaimed, or in other words, let God sanctify him, there’s a much better chance that he will never go back on God again.”
Jennie noticed the people in the lounge staring at her and Dr. Leary, but the doctor did not seem to be bothered about it. He was engrossed in what she had to say.
“I wish I had time to talk to you further on this subject,” Dr. Leary told her as he looked at his watch. “I’m interested to know more about this experience of sanctification.”
Jennie did not want to lose this wonderful opportunity of discussing the work of sanctification with Dr. Leary, so she invited him to come to Dave’s room at his convenience.
“I don’t want to disturb Mr. Maddox,” he said but Jennie noticed a wistful look in his eye.
“Dave will be delighted, Doctor.”
“How about eight o’clock tonight?”
“That’s fine. I will see you then.” They shook hands and went their separate ways.
Jennie was amazed at the doctor’s warm response to the truth. She hoped that she would be able, by God’s help, to further enlighten him. Would he come at eight as promised? She must pray that the devil would not be allowed to hinder him.
“How were your visitations this afternoon, Mrs. Maddox?” Dave smiled warmly and reached for her hand as she pulled her chair up close to his bedside.
“Wonderful, Dave. You should have seen dear Mrs. Jones’ face as I read the Scriptures to her. She’s such a wonderful saint but too weak to hold the Bible and read it for herself. Even little Tommy was delighted to hear the Bible stories. He begged me to stay longer and read to him, but I thought my dear husband would be lonely so I tried to make my visits short; but, of course, that is not always easy. “
“I was lonely for you, Jennie, but I won’t hinder you from doing God’s work. I have hindered you long enough now. I love you very much, Jennie, and think you are the best wife in the world.”
“I love you, too, Dave.” She leaned over and kissed him. “Guess who else I talked to. Someone you will probably remember well.”
“I can’t imagine.”
“Dr. Leary, the heart specialist. Remember the doctor who attended you when you had the heart attack before we were married?”
“Yes, I remember Dr. Leary. He’s a fine doctor. I would like to see him again.”
“He is supposed to meet me at eight o’clock here in your room. He’s interested in the work of sanctification.”
“You don’t mean it? How did that come about?” Dave was puzzled.
“Through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Dave. Dr. Leary seems to be reaching out for something with a hungry heart. I’m praying for God to give me wisdom and help that I might know how to help him.”
At ten minutes of eight, a light knock was heard at Dave’s door.
“Come in,” Jennie called.
After greeting them warmly, Dr. Leary came right to the point. “Mrs. Maddox, I’m very interested to know more about this experience of sanctification. You see, I was converted one month ago.”
“How wonderful, Dr. Leary.”
“Yes, it is wonderful indeed, but I feel a deeper need because of terrible inner conflicts. When something goes wrong, I feel an uprising within and I get angry and say and do things I know I shouldn’t. I ask forgiveness and then before I realize it, it happens again. I know God is displeased when I get all frustrated, for I feel condemnation in my heart. Then, too, it is ruining my Christian witness.”
“You are right, Doctor, God isn’t pleased when you give vent to these uprisings. This is why we need to be sanctified, to keep us sweet through the trials and tests. You do not appear to be one completely in the dark concerning this second work of grace. Have you ever heard of the work of sanctification before talking to me today’?”
“Yes, Mrs. Maddox, when I was studying for my doctorate, I had a room in the home of a couple who professed to have the experience of sanctification. I did not understand much about their doctrine, but I knew they had something more than the average professed Christian. No doubt, it was dear Mr. Paxton’s prayers that have followed me these many years and caused me to find salvation, for I heard him call my name in prayer many times.” Tears began to trickle down the doctor’s cheeks as he recalled those bygone days. He wiped them away with his handkerchief.
“Praise the Lord,” exclaimed Jennie as she, too, wiped away tears.
“I didn’t appreciate his prayers then, but I am certainly thankful for them now. I used to question him about the experience of sanctification as I was very skeptical. He would take the Bible and patiently read from it attempting to explain it to me. I can’t remember too much about it except that he spoke of a carnal nature that needed to be eradicated from one’s heart, even after they were born again. It is strange how that has remained with me all these years. Had it not been for Mr. Paxton’s life and testimony, I would probably have never known that I could be delivered from inbred sin. No doubt, after my conversion, I would have soon settled down to committing sin every day in word, thought, and deed, and lived like so many other nominal church members.” Looking at Jennie, he added, “I still need to be further enlightened, Mrs. Maddox, and I believe you can help me. I have watched your life and you have proven to me that you have what you profess and my heart hungers after this experience.”
Jennie looked at Dr. Leary and realized that he was a prominent person, a doctor who was distinguished for doing major heart surgeries. It seemed incredible that he was looking to her for help. She silently prayed that God would help her to be adequate for the need. She felt weak and insufficient but leaned heavily on God to give her the aid of the Holy Spirit and wisdom from above.
“I appreciate the confidence you have placed in me. I’m thankful that this experience is something real which enables one to live a consistent Christian life without sin in this present world. I will do my best by God’s help to help you, Dr. Leary, but let us pray first, for without Him I can do nothing.”
They bowed their heads and Jennie asked God’s blessing upon their conversation which would follow. She prayed earnestly that God would help her to say just the right words, use just the right Scriptures, and that He would touch Dr. Leary’s heart to understand and accept the way of holiness. “Thou hast said in Thy word, Lord, to ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ So we beseech Thee to make, the way of holiness understandable to Dr. Leary so he may enter in. Amen.”
After prayer Jennie began her explanation of sanctification. “This carnal nature is the nature we were born with. Our hearts were depraved because of the fall of Adam, our first father. We inherited this sin principle from him. The Bible calls this carnal nature or carnal mind an enemy of God. Here let’s read it in Romans 8:7.” She opened her Testament and read, “ ‘Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ Since this nature is not subject to God, you will have a struggle to live right as long as it remains in the heart. You have confessed, Dr. Leary, that you become angry and say things you do not intend to say and must apologize. This anger is one of the traits of carnality and will have to be eradicated by God in order for you to be victorious along this line. God does not intend for you to be daily defeated, but it is His will that you live a victorious life to glorify Him. In I Thessalonians 4:3, we read, ‘For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.’ Therefore, if it is God’s will, don’t you believe, Dr. Leary, that He has power to do the work?”
“Yes, Mrs. Maddox. That makes sense.”
Tears came into Jennie’s eyes as she sensed the hunger in his heart. He sat on the edge of his chair drinking in every word she had to say. Wiping her eyes she continued, “Not only is it God’s will, but He commands us to be holy or sanctified. Let us read it here in I Peter 1:15, 16. ‘But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy: for I am holy.’ Since God is a holy God, He wants a holy people to serve Him; otherwise, there is not real fellowship or communion between God and His people. He cannot fellowship sin for He hates sin. If God commands us to be holy, don’t you believe He can purify our hearts and make us holy? Would He command something that was impossible?”
“No, Mrs. Maddox. If God commands something, then there’s no doubt but that the work can be done.”
“Do you know, Doctor, that one of Jesus’ last commands while He was on earth was for His followers to be filled with the Spirit? Let us read it in Luke 24:29. ‘And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.’ Now, what was the promise of the Father?”
“I do not know, Mrs. Maddox.”
“It was that He would send the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit to abide in the hearts of His followers. Of course, the Spirit will not abide in an unclean heart, so first God has to eradicate the sin principle which is the carnal nature, and then the Comforter will come in. This eradication of the sin principle. or cleansing of the heart, followed by the infilling of the Holy Spirit is called sanctification. Do you understand thus far, Doctor?”
“Yes, Mrs. Maddox, it is becoming clearer to me.”
Again Jennie wiped her eyes. Dr. Leary reminded her of little Tommy when she read Bible stories to him. Jennie thought of the Scripture that says we must receive the kingdom of God as a little child to enter therein. Surely, he was as humble as a child.
“Let’s go a step further. Not only is sanctification God’s will and His command for our lives, but He promises to do the work in our hearts as soon as we meet the condition. In I Thessalonians 5:22, 24 we read, ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus. Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it.’ “
“I think I understand, Mrs. Maddox. May I ask a question though?”
“Does this experience make you perfect? Mr. Paxton used to call it the work of Christian Perfection.”
“As far as God is concerned, yes. Your heart is perfected toward Him when you are sanctified. But, because we are still in a human body, we will make human errors. Though the heart is perfect, the head is not, so we are subject to mistakes even though we do not commit actual sin. The Holy Spirit in our hearts will keep us from committing sin. I John 3:6 says, ‘Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.’ In verses seven and eight of the same chapter we read: ‘He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil: for the devil sinneth from the beginning.’ “
“This life without sin appears to be unobtainable, but if the Bible declares it, then it has to be so,” Dr. Leary reasoned. “Can you backslide once you obtain this experience of heart purity?”
“One is not as likely to go back on God after he has been sanctified wholly, as he would be in a state of regeneration alone, but it is possible through failure, neglect or disobedience. “
“How can you keep from losing this experience once you have obtained it?” the doctor further queried.
“As long as you walk in all the light God gives you, obey every check of the Spirit, read your Bible regularly, and pray and trust always, keeping your life committed and your will yielded to God, He will keep you and not let you fall. We must depend on His power and not our own human efforts. When we have done our best, God will do the rest.”
“What do you mean by praying always? This is impossible.”
“Literally, it is impossible for we cannot go around praying all the time. But since the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, we must keep our hearts lifted up to God as much as possible. As long as our minds are not engaged in other necessary things, we can have a prayerful attitude toward Him.”
“I understand, Mrs. Maddox. Thank you so very much for your time and patience with me. I might add that because of the life you have lived, I was made to hunger after God. I have watched you under pressure and ridicule; but always, you have manifested a kind, patient and humble spirit toward all. I recognized that you possessed the genuine while the majority of the church goers have a counterfeit religion.” He shook hands, first, with Dave and then with Jennie. “Keep praying for me,” he requested. “I desperately long for this deeper life you have been telling me about.”
“Doctor, don’t hurry. Tonight could well be the turning point of your life.”
“I’m in no hurry at all, Mrs. Maddox, but I do not want to tire Dave or you.”
“I’m fine, Doc,” Dave blurted out. ‘‘I’m trying to let some of my wife’s preaching soak into me.”
“I don’t want to leave the impression, Dr. Leary, that anger is the only trait of carnality in one’s heart. There are others such as pride, envy, selfishness, jealousy, malice, covetousness, and many more. These things are what cause one to act up under pressure and show wrong attitudes.”
“My, with all that in my heart,” exclaimed the doctor, “no wonder it has been hard to stay calm under pressure. I did not realize what was hidden in my heart, but as you named the carnal traits, I recognized how full of pride I am and how jealous I am. Also, I’m full of selfishness. Does God actually intend for me to be rid of these things?”
Jennie felt that God was revealing Dr. Leary’s heart to him. She had never dealt with such an honest-hearted person before. Who would have thought that this great heart specialist was so hungry for truth and light? But God is no respecter of persons. He deals with all classes of people alike.
“Yes, Doctor,” she answered, “God can rid you of these evil tendencies. Remember how I told you that God commands us to be holy? Well, since He commands it, we cannot accept it or reject it as we will, but as God gives us light, we must obey. If we refuse to walk in the light, we will lose ground with God.”
“This is a wonderful doctrine, Mrs. Maddox. It could solve the world’s problems if people would accept it. Why don’t you who have this experience propagate it everywhere?”
“The world, as a whole, does not accept this doctrine, Doctor. They enjoy the pleasures of sin too much to let God possess them completely. Yet, they have a false hope of making it to heaven in the end. But the Bible tells us in Proverbs 14:12, ‘There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ Sad to say, the multitudes are on their way to hell, yet think they are going to heaven. According to the Word, ‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, but broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat.’ “
‘‘I’m certainly thankful God allowed a few faithful ones to come across my path to enlighten me,” Dr. Leary said.
“God is just that faithful to others if they will only heed. Is there anything else you would like to ask, Doctor?”
“Yes, I would like to know how to obtain this experience of holiness or sanctification.”
“Forgive me, Doctor. It seems I have left out the most important thing of all. Of course, you want to know what you are to do in order to be sanctified. First, you confess your need to God, how you have failed Him because of carnality in your heart. Tell Him of your desire to be cleansed of these impurities, confessing each carnal trait as God reveals them to you. Yield yourself wholly to Him, giving up your own desires, wishes and future ambitions. Be willing to be used of Him any time, any place, to go where He wants you to go or stay and work here in the hospital if so be His divine will. Just be submissive to His will whatever it may be. When you have confessed all and have surrendered undeservedly to Him, thus meeting all His conditions, then your faith will take hold and God will come and purge out the roots of sin and fill your heart with His divine presence. Remember that we read to you from God’s Word, ‘Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it’?”
“Thank you again, Mrs. Maddox.” He took a step toward the door, then hesitated.
“Doctor, would you like to pray now?” Jennie ventured. “If you want this experience badly enough, you can have it right now.”
“I have never been any more hungry for all God has for me than I am at this minute, Mrs. Maddox.”
“Then let us pray.” Looking at Dave she asked, “How about it, Dave? Won’t you let God have His way in your heart?”
“Yes, Jennie, I’ll pray, too.”
What a blessed time of prayer as Dr. Leary bared his heart to God. In a short time he exclaimed, “Wonderful! Wonderful! He has come into my heart. It’s glorious! Thank the Lord. I’m so happy.” The heavenly radiance that lit up his face caused Jennie to weep for joy.
“Yes, Doctor, He has come. I feel it. Praise His wonderful Name!” Looking at Dave, she asked, “How about it. Dave? Shall we pray some more? You are not clear as Dr. Leary is, are you?”
“No, Jennie, I’m not sure, not like the doctor.”
Once again prayer went up to the throne in behalf of Dave; but for some reason known only to Dave and God, he failed to get the victory.
“Don’t give up, Dave,” Dr. Leary said in parting. “I will be praying for you. In fact, I won’t stop praying until I hear you have found this experience.”
“Thanks, Doc, and good luck.” As the door closed behind him, Dave said to Jennie, “Another sheaf gathered for the Master.”
“Give God all the glory,” she answered humbly.
After Dave’s discharge from the hospital, he was unable to return to work for quite some time, but he and Jennie found happiness in being together with Joan.
“It’s like when we were first married, Dave. I’m so thankful for all God has done for us.”
“Me, too, Dear. I was so sick and tired of the life I was living and so terribly lonely for you and Joan, but it seemed as if I couldn’t break loose. I kept plunging deeper and deeper in sin and, Jennie, you can’t imagine how miserable I was.”
“I have an idea, Dave. I don’t want to be a pest, but God was so gracious in taking you back. You should never quit seeking until He sanctifies you wholly.”
“I’m studying into it, Jen, I don’t understand much about it.”
“Dave, dear, you don’t have to understand so much about it. You know the carnal nature is in your heart, don’t you?”
“Yes, Jen, I know it’s there. No doubt about that.”
“Then don’t trifle with it, Dave. The Bible tells us ‘For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.’ If you know you need heart purity and if you know it is God’s will you have it, what else do you need to know?”
“Nothing, I suppose. Hey, when are we going to eat, Mrs. Maddox? I’m hungry as a wolf.”
Jennie knew that this meant the conversation was ended. She grew more and more concerned. “Oh, God,” she prayed day after day, “don’t let him lose ground. Somehow help him to feel his need and come to Thee for heart cleansing.”
Weeks passed and as Jennie looked out the window, she noticed a light frost on the ground. “Two more months until Christmas,” she thought, “I trust it will be different this year. Dave has always hated the Christmas season on account of the tragedy with Carol, but maybe now he will allow God to help him face it like a man.” Hearing little footsteps behind her, she turned from the window.
“My, how my baby is growing,” she thought. “Just think she will soon be three years old. I must go to town and buy her that little doll she saw in the window at McNeal’s.”
“Good morning, Joan,” she greeted her.
“Hi, Mommy. Joan’s hungry.”
Jennie laughed. “Joan’s always hungry, I think.” She picked her up and headed for the kitchen.
For Joan’s birthday, Jennie took delight in baking her a cake beautifully decorated with candles placed on it.
“See the cake, Daddy. Pretty cake.” Joan clapped her hands and laughed with delight.
“Yes, my darling, it is pretty. Mommy’s a good cake baker, isn’t she?”
“See the dolly,” Joan hugged it to her heart.
“The dolly’s pretty, too, Joan. Come here and climb on Daddy’s knee and tell me how much you love me.”
“I love you this much, Daddy.” She stretched open her arms wide to measure her love. “I love Mommy, I love Joan. I love Jesus.”
Jennie and Dave smiled at each other. What a little beauty! Little black ringlets hung to her shoulders, and when she smiled, a dimple showed in each cheek.
“What would we do without her, Jennie?” Dave hugged her close.
“I’m so thankful God has brightened our home with such a ray of sunshine,” she replied. “It’s remarkable how she learns. I hear her singing the little choruses they teach her at Sunday school and she doesn’t miss a word. She can recite numerous verses from the Bible, too.” Her face took on a serious expression. “We must be careful that we don’t get proud of her accomplishments. We should be humbly thankful to God that we have such a treasure. And to think, dear, in a few months we will have another treasure. Maybe you will get that boy you wanted this time.”
“Aw, Jennie, it really doesn’t matter. Joan’s such a darling that another girl would suit me fine. Say, Mrs. Maddox, have I told you lately how much I love and appreciate you?”
“I love you, too, Dave,” she smiled at him. “Let’s pray before we cut Jennie’s cake and thank God for all He has done for us.”
She was thinking of how things had been at this time last year. She and Joan had spent that birthday alone.
As she prayed, God’s love engulfed her and she wept aloud. His loving arms seemed to enfold her. It was an unusual experience and it reminded her of another such experience she had had in the past which God had used to prepare her for a severe test. Could it be … ? She pushed the thought from her mind and reached into a drawer and took out a knife to cut the cake. Soon Joan was yawning and Jennie bathed her and tucked her in bed with a goodnight kiss.
Jennie did not go to sleep immediately. A dread that she could not explain, took possession of her. She kept praying and finally from exhaustion dropped off to sleep.
“Mom—my!” Jennie heard Joan scream at about two o’clock in the morning. She rushed to her bedside.
“My head, Mommy. Joan’s head hurts.”
“Mommy’s right here, darling. We will pray to Jesus to touch you if it is His will.”
“It hurts bad, Mommy.”
Jennie lifted her out of the bed and held her close. Her heart pounded wildly as she spoke soothing words of comfort to her precious baby.
“I’ve been praying that at any cost Dave would mind God,” she meditated. “Can it be … ? I just can’t think of it.”
She held Joan on her lap the remainder of the night. She thought it best not to awaken Dave until morning as he could not do anything to relieve Joan anyway. Jennie tried to pray, “Thy will be done,” but she found it was harder than she had thought as the little darling was pressed close to her heart.
“I love you, Jesus, above everything in this world,” she began to pray. “Yes, better than this precious baby.” She began to feel more freedom in prayer. “Thou knowest what is best for our lives. Help me to be able to say, ‘Thy will be done’ and mean it from the depths of my heart.” Tears were falling like rain but a peace came over her soul as she put her darling Joan into the hands of God and whispered, “Thy precious will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.”
By morning, Joan was screaming with her head, “Joan hurts bad, Mommy. Tell Jesus to make me stop hurting.”
These pleadings seemed to wring the heart out of Jennie and Dave, so they decided to take her to the hospital.
“Daddy, Joan’s head hurts,” she screamed. “Help me, Daddy.”
“Oh, God, please have mercy and touch our baby if it can be Thy will,” he prayed brokenly. Turning to Jennie he pleaded, “Try to get hold of God, Jennie. This is killing me.”
Jennie looked at him helplessly. She had been praying almost continuously since two o’clock that morning and yet Joan had steadily grown worse.
“I’m praying, Dave.” She tried to appear calm. “I’m sure that God has the situation in hand. We must trust Him through it all.”
“I’m trying to, Jennie, but her pitiful cries for help are breaking my heart.”
Upon arriving at the hospital, Joan was taken directly to the emergency room. The doctor on duty examined her and then called in another doctor for consultation. After what seemed hours, they reported to Dave and Jennie. “We advise you to rush her to the Medical Center in Gainesville immediately. They have better facilities and specialists who are able to handle this case better than we can here. I’m sorry, but we are not equipped for this.” The doctor looked grave.
“Is she critical, Doctor’?” Dave and Jennie were clinging to each other for support.
“I can’t diagnose her case, Mr. Maddox, but I can tell you one thing; she is a very sick little girl.”
“Yes, we know.” Had they not listened to her screams and pleadings for help until their hearts were broken and their nerves shattered’?”
“We will call an ambulance immediately if you are going to follow our advice,” the doctor spoke again. “We can have her ready to go by the time the ambulance arrives. “
Jennie looked at Dave. “What do you think, Dave?”
“It seems to be our only alternative, Jen.” She nodded. “Go ahead and have the ambulance called,” he said to the doctor. “And thanks for what you’ve done.”
The doctor shook hands with them as he said, “Good luck to you.”
Neither Jennie nor Dave spoke much on the way to the hospital in Gainesville. Once in a while, one or the other would groan audibly. Joan’s screams had subsided and she seemed to be in a state of unconsciousness. Was it only yesterday that she was so radiantly happy as she clapped her hands and expressed her joy over her birthday cake and new doll?
“Ye know not what shall be on the morrow,” Jennie quoted silently, “for what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” She glanced at Dave who seemed to be numb with grief. She longed to speak words of comfort to him, but she was speechless. “I wonder if she will live to get to the hospital,” she thought.
“Oh, God,” she prayed silently. “Somehow get glory to Thy name out of this terrible tragedy and give us grace to bear it.”
“If Dave would only mind God,” she thought. “He knows he needs to be sanctified but has made no move, whatsoever, in that direction.” Jennie knew how weak Dave was along certain lines and how the devil had tripped him up before. “If he doesn’t yield completely and let God sanctify him, it is possible he will lose out again, very possible. We are no match for the devil.” She had been praying desperately for God to reveal Dave’s need to him and help him to come to God for heart purity. As she looked at him now, his suffering revealed in his countenance, and on to the little form on the stretcher, she felt that surely God would use this to get to his heart. She recalled a testimony she had heard once at church. Sister Muncy had told how God had taken their little boy from them to break her stubborn will and bring her unto Himself. “What a cost!” she had thought at the time. “What a price to pay for failing to mind God.” Now it was much closer home. Their own little Joan’s life was hanging on a slender thread between life and death.
She searched her own heart. “Lord, if I have failed you or grieved you in any way, wilt Thou reveal it unto me? I love Thee, dear Lord, more than anything in the world and don’t want anything to mar my fellowship with Thee.”
She felt God’s witness in her soul giving her the assurance she needed and an inner peace, in spite of the turmoil about her.
After what seemed endless hours, the ambulance pulled into the drive at the hospital. Joan was wheeled away immediately and they were left alone to pace back and forth in the waiting room. Later, a doctor by the name of Spinks came into the waiting room and told them, “We think it is an abscess on the brain, Mr. Maddox. It is definitely necessary to operate immediately. I can give you very little hope.” His voice was sympathetic.
“Oh, Dave,” sobbed Jennie as she clung to him, “Our baby, our baby.” Dave did not speak but only drew her close to him. She felt the pounding of his heart and knew without words, how he felt. “I must try to brace up,” she told herself. “Dave needs me.”
The hours dragged by slowly. Dave paced back and forth across the waiting room. Every so often an agonizing groan escaped his lips. Jennie could furnish him little comfort. She was leaning heavily on God trusting Him to get glory out of this heartbreaking ordeal. Memories of bygone events overwhelmed her as she leaned her head back on the chair where she sat. little things that she had not thought of in many days. Like the day Joan ran into the kitchen with a dirty little puppy in her arms.
“See, Mommy, pretty puppy,” she had exclaimed joyfully.
“No, no, Joan. The puppy’s dirty and may be sick. You must not play with dirty puppies.”
“Mommy, Joan wants to play with dirty puppy. Sweet puppy, hungry puppy, Mommy.”
Tears had welled up in Joan’s eyes as Jennie had taken the puppy and put him back outside.
“Please, Mommy,” she had begged. “Joan loves the puppy.”
Jennie had ignored her pleas and taken her to the bathroom to disinfect her hands. Then she called her neighbor to see if he knew where the puppy had come from. Though there was no explanation, he promised to get rid of the puppy for her. As Jennie recalled the incident now, she could hear Joan’s pleas ringing so distinctly in her ears. “Had I known this was going to happen,” she thought, “I would have bathed the little dog, fed it and let Joan have it. What harm could it have done? And, oh, the happiness it would have brought to my little girl’s heart.”
Arising from her chair, she walked to the window. Raising the blinds, she looked out and for a while watched a little sparrow hop around on the ground searching for a morsel of food. Once again, she visualized a little dirty, hungry puppy clutched tightly in a little girl’s arms. A tear slid down her cheek. “Let not your heart be troubled,” a still small voice whispered. “Thank you, Lord.” She wiped the tears away and looking up to God, she prayed silently, “Lord, I have always done the best I could for my darling baby. Please, Lord, take away these awful feelings of regret.” A calm swept over her and she was able once again to rest in the Lord.
Hearing Dr. Spinks’ voice, she turned away from the window to face him. He still wore his surgery smock and cap. With a serious look he told them, “She made it through the operation.” Placing a hand on Dave’s shoulder, he added, “All we can do now is wait and hope.”
“And pray,” added Jennie.
“That might help, too,” he replied.
“May we see her?” Dave asked softly.
“Not now. She is in the recovery room and probably will be for an hour or so yet. Then she will be moved to the intensive care unit where we can observe her closely. If you would like, you can go up to the waiting room on fourth floor but it will be several hours before you can see her.” He shook their hands, patted Dave on the shoulder and started to go. Turning back, he gave the sorrowing couple a sympathetic look and tried to hearten them with, “Keep your chin up! Miracles do happen, you know.” Looking toward Jennie, he added, “Why don’t you go down to the cafeteria and get something to eat or drink? In your condition, you must take care of yourself.”
“Thanks for your concern, Doctor,” she replied. “I do feel awfully weak but I hadn’t even thought of food.”
“I understand, Mrs. Maddox, but you must think of your unborn baby, also.”
“You’re right, Doctor. Thanks again.”
When the door closed behind him, Dave and Jennie sat on the sofa. For a while neither spoke. There was no one else in the waiting room at the time, so all was quiet. Suddenly Dave dropped his head in his hands and began to sob. “Forgive me, Jennie,” he choked, “but I feel I will burst if I do not give vent to my feelings.”
“It’s all right, Dave. A good cry will help to relieve the tension.”
“Jennie,” he began slowly as he regained his composure, “I have asked God to forgive me for trifling with Him. I have searched my heart and asked His forgiveness for every failure.” He broke down again as he continued. “God’s mercy is beyond my comprehension. I have failed so many times and He so freely forgives. I feel His divine witness just now that I’m His child.”
“Thank the Lord, Dave. I agree that God’s mercy is beyond our little finite understanding, and I’m so glad it is. Oh, the richness of God’s love and mercy! His ways are past finding out. I love Him supremely and am trusting Him where I do not understand.” She hesitated. Should she speak to Dave again about getting sanctified? She prayed silently for wisdom. For a few moments neither spoke. Dave broke the silence.
“Jennie, you have stressed many times my need of sanctification. I guess it took this awful tragedy to open my eyes to see that one cannot play fast and loose with God. I have realized for many months that I need a pure heart but have stubbornly refused to pay the price to obtain it. As a result, I have been up and down in my experience. My heart has been cold toward God, but I’m so thankful He has forgiven me and now I’m determined to mind Him in everything.”
“Whether He heals Joan or not, Dave?” Jennie questioned.
There was a moment’s hesitation while Dave searched his heart. He then answered brokenly, ‘Yes, Jennie, whether He heals Joan or not. I’m so sick and tired of fighting inward battles and being up and down in my experience all the time. I want all God has for me, the indwelling of His divine presence. I want Him more than anything in the world, Jennie. I’m sick of myself. I think I must be the most selfish person in the world. Remember how I wouldn’t let you have a church wedding or a honeymoon because of my selfishness?” She nodded. How could she have forgotten? “And remember how I wouldn’t let you work for God when you so humbly asked me? Oh, Jennie,” he cried brokenly, “can you ever forgive me? I’m so sorry for all I’ve put you through.”
Jennie, too, was crying as she answered, “Of course, I forgive you, Dave. I’ve never held anything. in my heart against you. Now ask God to forgive you and to cleanse your heart from selfishness.”
Dave confessed his selfishness to God, “Rid me of selfishness, Lord. I abhor myself for this awful jealousy. I’m sick of it, Lord. I want a pure heart, a heart of love. And Lord, I need deliverance from anger. Thou knowest how angry I get over such trivial matters. Deliver me from this carnal trait. Oh, God, I desperately long for cleansing through the precious blood of Jesus. I’m so full of carnality but my heart cries out for deliverance. Wilt Thou come, Lord, and eradicate these awful evil tendencies in my heart? These things that keep me from living a consistent, victorious life in Thee.”
“Keep praying and confessing, Dave. God is here to give you victory. He can sanctify you right here and now if you will meet the conditions,” Jennie encouraged him. “When the conditions are met, He will give you faith to believe for the cleansing.”
“Oh, God,” Dave continued to pray, “take out this bitterness I’ve harbored for years because of Carol’s death. Give me complete deliverance over it. Give me power to witness for Thee, Lord. I need boldness and wisdom. Oh, God, Thou dost see how I’m ashamed of the reproach of Christ. Rid me of this shame, Lord. Give me joy in bearing Thy reproach. Thou knowest how I want to be seen of men and how I want to be somebody in this world. Humble my heart, Lord; take me down and rid me of this pride. Empty my heart of all these carnal traits. Crucify old self and set me free in Thee, Lord. I desperately seek Thy help.” He quit praying and looked helplessly at Jennie.
“Yield to God your will, Dave. What about Joan? Is she on the altar?”
Dave’s whole frame shook as he prayed brokenly, “Lord, I give Thee Joan, my darling baby, in life or death. She’s Thine, Lord. Get glory to Thy name. I give Thee my wife. She’s Thine to work for Thee as Thou dost see fit. I will not seek an easy way in life to spare my wife and family, but together we will go where Thou leadest whether the way is easy or full of hardships and suffering. I yield Thee my will in everything, my future is in Thy hands as well as the present. I’ll go to the ends of the earth for Thee if Thou dost call me. Anything, Lord. I’ll obey whatever the cost.”
The door of the waiting room flew open and a young couple came in, laughing merrily. They stopped abruptly upon seeing the penitent Dave and Jennie with her face bathed in tears. They whispered to each other and left the room.
Dave wiped his eyes and looked questioningly at Jennie.
“Dave,” she instructed, “God has promised to sanctify you when you have yielded to Him your all.”
Dave did not answer. He mopped his forehead with his handkerchief and sighed. The door opened again and this time a woman appeared with a cleaning pail. Jennie looked helplessly at Dave while she prayed desperately for God to intervene. Dave had been so close to victory for a while but now it seemed the Spirit had lifted. Was the devil going to defeat him after all?
Dave arose and took Jennie’s hand and gently helped her to her feet. Smiling, he asked, “Do you remember what the doctor told you, Mrs. Maddox? You still haven’t eaten anything.”
“But, Dave, I’m not the least bit hungry. There are things so much more important.”
“I know, Jennie, but you’re going to eat. Come along like a good girl.”
Reluctantly, Jennie allowed herself to be guided out the door and down the corridor toward the elevator. As the elevator door slowly closed, she said, “Dave, you were so close to victory. You aren’t going to let the devil defeat you, are you?”
“Jennie,” he answered tenderly, “I can’t pray any more in the waiting room with so much distraction. I saw a little roadside chapel about a block from here as we came in. I plan to go there and pray until God meets my need, if it takes all night.” Squeezing her hand, he added, “I’ll leave you at the cafeteria and after you eat, you can go up to the fourth floor and wait for me and for Joan.” As an afterthought, he added, “Don’t worry about me, Jennie. I mean to do business with God so you won’t see me again until God sanctifies me wholly.”
They had reached the cafeteria. Dave seated Jennie at a table and left. Jennie placed her order but when it was brought to her, she could choke down only a few bites. Her heart was heavy for Dave and ached for Joan. She prayed constantly as she left the cafeteria and made her way to the elevator.
For hours, Jennie sat in the waiting room for the intensive care patients. The only report she received was, “She’s holding her own.”
“When may I see her?” she asked the nurse on duty.
“You can see her for ten minutes in another hour,” she was told.
How she longed for the comfort of Dave’s presence but he still had not returned. She felt crushed under the load she was carrying. “Oh, God,” she prayed silently, “give Dave the victory he seeks. Help him to say that final ‘yes’ to God. Don’t let him be defeated, Lord. Help him to surrender all.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. Dave had been gone four hours. She rose from her chair and walked over to the window. Taking her worn Testament from her purse, she opened it to the book of Romans and her eyes fell on these words, “sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” She blinked her eyes. Could this be a message from God? She read it over slowly again, “sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” The burden for Dave gently lifted off her heart and the witness flooded her soul. She had the assurance that God had met Dave’s need. The tears fell unashamedly down her cheeks and she wanted to shout aloud for joy. Her whole body trembled with emotion.
“Here, Miss, sit down and let me get you a glass of water.” A kindly lady had taken the situation in hand.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Jennie told her, “but I’m all right. I was just lost in adoration to God for His goodness to us. Isn’t He wonderful?”
The lady gave her a puzzled stare and left her to herself. Jennie went into the restroom, washed her face and then walked out into the hall to wait for Dave, whom she expected to arrive very soon. Ten minutes she waited, twenty, thirty, but still Dave had not come.
“See,” the devil derided her. “You were mistaken. If he had the victory, he would not have been able to get here fast enough to tell you.”
“Get thee behind me, Satan,” she whispered. “I believe God that it is as He has witnessed to me.”
Jennie glanced at the clock again. In fifteen minutes, she was to see Joan. What was keeping Dave? She started walking toward the elevator as if guided by an unseen hand. It opened and Dave stepped out. The glow on his face revealed to Jennie what she already knew. She fell into his arms unmindful of their surroundings.
“Praise God, Jennie,” was all that Dave could say.
“Amen!” she answered. “I’m so happy for you, Dave. Praise the Lord!”
“What about Joan?”
“We’re to see her in about ten minutes. What took you so long, Dave? God gave me the witness nearly an hour ago.”
“Then you already knew before I came?”
“Well, Jennie, I was so broken before God and in such a state of ecstasy that I just lingered a while to give God praise. Does that explain it?”
“Yes, Dave, that explains it,” she smiled at him sweetly.
They walked back into the waiting room together.
“You may see your little girl now,” a nurse told them.
Dave took Jennie’s hand and they started toward the door together.
“One at a time, five minutes each,” she instructed.
“You go first, Jennie.”
The little figure did not move as Jennie looked down upon her. Could there be life in one who looked so much like a corpse? Her black curls had been shaven off and her head was swathed in bandages with only her pale little face exposed. A needle was stuck in her arm with an intravenous bottle hanging over her bed.
Jennie found it very difficult to remain calm as she had been instructed, but an unseen presence reached underneath her with His everlasting arms and held her steady. She prayed silently as she stood by Joan’s bed, then kissed her pale little cheek and returned to Dave.
“Prepare yourself,” she whispered to him as he started to go in to see her. He smiled faintly and squeezed her hand. “May God’s will be done,” she whispered close to his ear, that he might know she was still submissive. Dave nodded in agreement, not trusting himself to speak. He then entered her room .
“Give us more grace, Lord,” Jennie prayed silently as she waited just outside the door. “Touch Dave. Don’t let him weaken; keep him submissive to Thy will.” Her heart followed Dave into Joan’s room.
“Let’s go, Jennie.” Dave touched her elbow. “Let’s go get some fresh air before I faint.”
They walked down the long corridor hand in hand. Neither spoke for the feelings they shared were beyond words. They walked out the front door of the hospital, across the street and sat down on a bench. For a while they were both silent. Then Jennie spoke, “It’s hard, Dave, but God is giving us strength to bear it. He promised to be with us in time of trouble, to never leave us or forsake us.”
“Yes, Jennie, I know.”
A little gray squirrel scampered down the tree trunk under which they sat, and jumped upon the back of the bench flicking his tail as if begging for a nut. Dave reached out his hand as if to stroke it, but it jumped off the bench and ran back up the tree. He shaded his eyes to catch a glimpse of the frisky little creature, but the squirrel had disappeared.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if heartaches could disappear like that?” he commented.
“The Bible tells us that ‘Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble,’ Dave. Everyone has heartaches and trouble. It’s how we take our troubles that counts. If God allows these heartbreaking trials to come our way, then He will give us grace to bear them.”
“But, Jennie, the thing that crushes me is that I’m to blame. The Lord allowed this to break down my stubborn will, but though I’m to blame, look how you and Joan are suffering. “
Jennie reached over and put her hand in his, smiling through her tears. “Dave, dear, God’s works are for eternity,” she replied softly. “And though He has allowed this to bring you unto Himself, and though Joan and I are suffering as well as you, all three of us will reap eternal rewards. I have prayed many times that the Lord would sanctify you at any cost and He has marvelously done it. This is the cost and I have no regrets for God’s ways are high above our ways. What would our life have been even though we lived many long, healthy years if you had not minded God? Think of all the heartaches we have suffered in the past when you were running from God. Think of the misery you were in and the grief I suffered. Now, we are both in a place, spiritually, where God can really begin to mold our lives to help others. To blame yourself, Dave, for Joan’s condition will not help matters at all. Let’s just say that God, in His eternal wisdom, has allowed it for our good and His glory and accept it. That way, it becomes easier. Remember how you put Joan in God’s hands when you were seeking to be sanctified? Well, Dave, let’s leave her there. She belongs to Him and if He takes her on to heaven it will make heaven brighter for us and give us more to strive for to enter in.”
“Jennie, your words are like soothing ointment to a wound. But,” he added with a rueful smile, “they haven’t always been so. When I was astray, you talked to me as straight as you could. I guess that is what it has taken to bring me to my senses.” Squeezing her hand, he whispered,“I love you, Mrs. Maddox, and think you’re the best wife in the whole world.”
A few weeks later, as they prepared to leave the hospital, Dr. Spinks told them, “Well folks, I have never seen anything like it. Your daughter has recovered much faster than I expected. I suppose that is because of her tender age.”
“Dr. Spinks, you are a wonderful doctor and my wife and I appreciate you and your fine staff of doctors and nurses in this hospital that have given our baby such good care. But we want to give God the praise and honor that’s due Him also, for sparing her life. Without His mercy and healing touch, I fear she would not have pulled through.” Dave smiled faintly as he spoke.
The blood rushed to Dr. Spinks’ face as he glared at Dave. “Young man,” he said coldly, “there’s not a better hospital around and our doctors …. “
“You’re right, Doc,” Dave interrupted. “We want you to have all the credit due you, but tell me honestly, do you think you could have saved her life had it not been for God’s help?”
Dr. Spinks dropped his eyes and then his head. He shifted from one foot to the other while he jingled the coins in his pocket. Meeting Dave’s eye once again, he started to speak, but instead he swallowed hard and turned from them and walked over to the window, pulled the drapes and looked out. Rolling the drapery cord between his thumb and finger, he at last spoke, “Mr. Maddox, you asked for an honest opinion. I am not a religious man and of course, I like to think that I have done well with my patients. I like for them to think that I am a good doctor. My profession means much to me; in fact, it is my life. I put forth my best efforts for suffering and dying humanity. When I see an impossible case restored to life and health, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and I say to myself, ‘Spinks, all your years of hard studying and practice have paid off. You are a help in this life.’ It gives me strength and courage to continue on. But to get back to your question,” he turned and faced them,“to be perfectly honest, I had no hope at all for your baby’s recovery when she was admitted into this hospital. I suppose I will have to admit that we had help from a higher power. To see her today, so much improved and with no brain damage whatsoever, is indeed a wonderful miracle.” He extended his hand to shake hands with them. “Goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. Maddox. It has been a real pleasure getting acquainted with you folk, but I’m sorry it had to be under these circumstances.” Glancing down at the floor, he added humbly, “Say a prayer for me sometimes.”
At this moment, someone turned on a radio and the beautiful Christmas carol, “Silent Night, Holy Night” rang out in the stillness of the hospital corridor.
Jennie grew tense as she watched Dave’s reaction. She had seen him stomp angrily out of the house many times because of a Christmas carol being played or sung. Dave dropped his head as she almost held her breath in suspense. He then looked her straight in the eye, smiled and winked.
Dr. Spinks was saying, “And to think you will be home with Joan to spend Christmas together. This should be the best Christmas you have ever had.”
Jennie looked timidly at Dave awaiting his answer.
“Yes, Doc,” he said enthusiastically, “this will be the best Christmas we have ever spent together. I’m so glad that Jesus was born many years ago on Christmas morn and died on the cross to pay the price for my redemption as well as for yours, Doc.”
Dr. Spinks turned and walked away, “Merry Christmas,” he called over his shoulder.
“Merry Christmas to you, Doc, and thanks a million for everything you have done.”
Driving home later with little Joan, Dave spoke, “Jennie, we are beginning our life anew. When I heard those Christmas carols back there in the hospital, I thought of how angry I always got. But everything’s so different now. I reasoned to myself as I listened to the beautiful carols. ‘Dave Maddox, you have been very childish because of a tragedy happening during the Christmas season. Don’t you know it could have happened at any other time of the year? What is the meaning of Christmas anyway? Why, if Christ had not been born and had not died for you, Dave Maddox, where would you be now?’ “ Glancing at Jennie,” he added, “My heart is really changed, Jennie. It’s amazing.”
“Wonderful, Dave,” Jennie was weeping for joy.
“One other thing I want to say while it is on my mind. Remember how awful I acted after we were married when you approached me about going back to work for God?”
“Yes, Dave.” It was engraved in her memory.
“Well, Jennie, I’ve already asked your forgiveness but I want you to know you are free to work for God in any way He leads. I will do all I can to help.”
“Thank you, Dave. You can’t imagine what this means to me. She brushed the tears from her eyes.
Turning on the radio, they listened enraptured to the beautiful carol, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”
“Jennie, my dear,” Dave put his arm about her shoulder and she snuggled. closer and lay her head against his shoulder, “if you had not been faithful, I would not be joyful and triumphant this wonderful Christmas season. Thanks for every prayer you have prayed for me, every meal you have fasted and every warning you have given me. God has brought us through many sore trials and tests, and by His help and grace, I will never fail Him or you again. I love you very much, Mrs. Maddox, and intend to spend the rest of my life making up to you for my past failures.”
Jennie sighed happily. “This is the real beginning of our life—our honeymoon, the one we have never taken,” she thought. Looking up to God in her heart, she breathed a prayer of thanksgiving. “Thank you, Father, for holding me up with Thine everlasting arms of mercy and keeping me sweet in my soul. With the right spirit, keeping me from sinking, as time and time again, Thou hast allowed us to pass through deep and troubled waters.”
“Mommy, Daddy, Joan’s hungry. Let’s stop and eat.” Their little girl had awakened.
Jennie and Dave looked at each other and laughed as Jennie moved over to make room for Joan between them.
“Joan loves Mommy, loves Daddy, loves Joan.” Folding her little hands, she added reverently, “Joan loves Jesus. Jesus made Joan well. Thank you Jesus for making Joan well. Thank you Jesus for everything.” Looking at Dave and then at Jennie, she said, “Mommy and Daddy pray.”
“Thank you Jesus for everything,” they repeated in unison as they headed toward the nearest cafe to feed their hungry little girl.
About The Author
Mrs. McCain died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident at age 87 on December 9, 2013. She maintained her Christian commitment and ministry, as well as her writing skills, until the time of her unfortunate death.
At the time of her death, many of her books were out of print. To preserve the books and allow many new readers to enjoy, the books are being converted to e-books by her family. To increase relevancy and impact to a more contemporary and international audience, minor edits to the original text have been made to some of the books.
The following article was published in the Cenla Focus in October 2012 prior to Mrs. McCain’s death, and provides a synopsis of Mrs. McCain’s life as an author. It was authored by Holly Jo Linzay
Georgia McCain, an author of 10 published books, recalls the day she felt the Lord Jesus lead her to start writing. “I was standing in the kitchen, and God asked me, ‘What is that in your hand?” McCain remembers, and answered, “‘Only a pen, Lord.’ Then He asked me if I would use the pen for his honor and glory, and I said, ‘Yes, Lord, as you direct me, I will write for the glory and honor of God.”
That very night, her first short novel unfolded completely from beginning to end. “The Lord gave me the name of the book and just opened up the story for me from the first page to the last,” notes McCain about her first book, Through Troubled Waters, which was published more than 40 years ago. Her first book is a work of fiction interwoven with Biblical truths. McCain has sold thousands of copies, and has received letters from people all over the world expressing how the book touched their hearts. “I never dreamed about writing a book, let alone getting one published,” McCain notes.
As a child, McCain wrote poems and made up short stories. In the ninth grade, as her teacher was passing out Christmas gifts to the class, she called McCain to the front of the classroom. She told the class that Georgia had a gift for all her classmates. Stunned, McCain realized her teacher had made copies of a story she had written and shared it with the class. From time to time, she would write another short story. Later, she was asked by a preacher to write a story that would continue and develop in a religious paper. ‘I told him that I couldn’t just sit down and write a story. God had to give me the thoughts’ McCain recalls, remembering it was later that night that she heard God question her about writing. When her son, Danny, came home from college, he read her story, Through Troubled Waters, and encouraged McCain to get it published. “Everything I write, I want it to honor God,’ McCain says with conviction.
The 84-year-old author is a woman of prayer, and has lived a life in pursuit of holiness. Growing up as one of 14 children In the rural community of Rigolette, McCain graduated from Tioga High School. At 19 years old, she met and started dating a young man named Carl McCain. He worked as a lineman for South Central Bell and she was working as a telephone operator. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were married on July 1, 1946.
The young couple made their home in Rigolette and raised their seven children—Ronald, Danny, Kenny, Randy, Barry, Donna and Jackie. The family attended Tioga Wesleyan Methodist Church, where Georgia and Carl served in every ministry they could. They have 19 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The two were married for 62 years before Carl passed away. Her home is a testament to a close-knit family with photographs vying for space on shelves stocked full with mementoes from the grandchildren. A legacy of love is showcased with framed drawings from the kids alongside epic poems written by McCain about her family.
In between her serving at her church and raising seven children, McCain found time to write more books. Her second book, Trials and Triumphs, is non-fiction and restates many of her personal experiences, including the loss of her four-month-old grandson, Nathaniel, to meningitis. Her third book, a fictional novel, Shattered Shackles, deals with alcoholism and its affect on a family. “My daddy was an alcoholic, who would say he was tapering off when he was trying to quit. Later, he did sober up,” McCain says, adding that her real-life experience probably played a role in the book.
Another of her books, God’s Little Lambs, is a compilation of stories written for children that can be read as bedtime stories or for family devotions. At one time, McCain says she felt impressed to write a novel about some twins. In Straight Paths, the story of fiery-tempered “Connie Slocum” unwinds as she struggles with heartaches, persecution, separation and loneliness. In the book’s sequel, Plucked Out ofthe Net, Connie’s twin brother, “Donnie Slocum,” is featured in a story of redemption.
Three of McCain’s books have dealt with prayer and answers to “prevailing” prayer. “It is absolutely amazing that God has spoken to me over and over, and keeps giving me books to write. He has faithfully led me all the way,” notes McCain. In all, she has written 10 books, and family and friends are after her to write a book of poems. She has written long poems with clever rhymes marking nearly every milestone in her and her family’s life.
It does not take long to get caught up reading one of McCain’s books, and believing the incredible stories of faith in the non-fiction books. Written in such honest prose, her words flow from her heart and from a life seeking after holiness. If her books inspire and encourage or cause someone to “seek the Lord,” then McCain says the books have served their purpose. “God deserves all the glory for anything accomplished through the writing or reading of these books,” she emphasizes.
A woman of faith, McCain has taught Sunday School and Bible studies in just about every ministry at her church. In addition, for the last 34 years, she has taught three different Bible study groups at three different nursing homes. McCain has been honored and received numerous awards for her volunteer service from Ball Senior Citizens Center and various nursing homes. In 2001, she was named the Volunteer of the Year of Tioga Manor and named “Most Faithful” volunteer at two other nursing homes.
When her husband Carl served for a number of years on the Rapides Parish Police Jury, McCain supported him by participating in a variety of ways in the community. Known as a great cook by her family and friends, her daughter, Donna, presented her with a cookbook of the family recipes on her 50th wedding anniversary. Besides serving the Lord, McCain says her most important role in life has been as a wife and mother. She said all her children are “successful and love the Lord,” and that they never gave her a “lick of trouble” beceuse she kept them in church and a “switch on their behinds”, if needed. Her son, Danny, who is a missionary in Nigeria, even calls her every day.
McCain says she is “blessed beyond measure by the Lord” with family and friends. Some have called her a “prayer warrior,” in seeking God’s will in her life. One piece of advice she freely gives out to all who will listen is the same encouragement she offers in her last book, Walking with God for Over 50 Years, “Sometimes when we can’t seem to pray our way through, we can often times praise our way through to God. Try it.”
Books by Georgia McCain
Trials and Triumphs
In Straight Paths
Plucked Out of the Net
Through Troubled Waters
Remarkable Incidents & Answers to Prayers
Amazing Answers to Prevailing Prayers
God’s Little Lambs
Walking With God for Over 50 Years
Celebration of Life, Family, and Faith – Collection of Poems, Tributes, and Stories
In addition, many of her family recipes are provided in the following book, compiled by her daughter, Donna McCain Wilson, on the occasion of her 60^th^ wedding anniversary:
Still Cooking After Sixty Years
Plans are to make all available via ebooks. Stay tuned.
Letters from Readers of Georgia McCain Books
The following are excerpts from some of the many letters I have received from my readers from different parts of the country from as far away as Alaska. Also, God has seen fit to place my books in several foreign countries, namely Haiti, the Bahamas, Republic of South Africa, New Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Taiwan, England, and South America. I have been encouraged time and again upon receiving letters from people relating how God used one of my books to help them spiritually. Some have been saved, some sanctified, some edified, strengthened, and encouraged. Again, I say, “all glory to Jesus!” He, it is that gives me a nudge when it’s time to write another book. And though I’m a very busy person in the work of the Lord, plus all my other duties as a housewife, when I feel God leading, I let many things go undone and busy myself with my writing, which I enjoy as God helps. I’ve often thought that if only one person would walk up to me in Heaven and say “It was your book that helped me to turn to Jesus and helped to enlighten my way to Heaven,” it would be worth all the time and effort put forth in writing them. One soul is worth everything.
I have a son who is a missionary to Africa. A few years back, he visited a man in jail named Olusegun Obasanjo, and gave him one of my books entitled, Amazing Answers to Prevailing Prayer. Later, Mr. Obasanjo got saved, straightened out his life, and ran for president of Nigeria and was elected. Whether or not my book had anything at all to do with Mr. Obasanjo’s salvation, I know not, but later after he became president, my son visited him, and he told my son that his mother’s book was very inspirational. Later, the president wrote a book entitled Women of Virtue: Stories of Outstanding Women in the Bible, and my son brought me a copy on one of his trips home. So one never knows how far their works for Christ will reach when we put it in God’s hands and take our hands off. It will take eternity to tell any good my writing for God’s Glory alone has accomplished.
Trust you enjoy the following letters from my readers:
I have just become a Christian and your books have helped me so much. I have four and am wondering if you have written anymore. I really like In Straight Paths and Through Troubled Waters. Will you pray for me? I need more help spiritually.
Your six books arrived for the Stephen D. Herron Memorial Library, and we feel honored to place them in the memorial room. I trust that the people who use the room for study and prayer will profit greatly from reading them. You have always been a great blessing to each of us.
I cried most of the time while reading your book Shattered Shackles because many happenings had been a reality in my life. I’ve had lots of heartaches.
I am a young person who likes to read but am quite selective in what I read. So many of these so-called Christian novels are so aimless and mushy, it’s disgusting, but I would recommend your books to anyone. The explanation of holiness is very good.
I am so happy to know we have dedicated writers such as you who are willing to do the hard work of hammering out a good clean book for people to read. May God bless you as you use your talent for Him. We may never write best sellers but as long as we keep His smile upon our work, it is a best seller. Keep up the good work. (From another writer)
A note to say thanks for the books. Couldn’t put them down. Now that’s what I call talent. They were really enlightening. Thanks a million.
I read your book, which was a great inspiration to me. I never dreamed anyone could even imagine or dream up so much adversity and heartache as I have been through. Your book lifted my spirits in a very dark and lonely period of my life.
I’ve read two of your books in two days, as I couldn’t lay them down after I started. I will pass them around and I’m sure others will enjoy them, too.
I was happy when I came across your book entitled Through Troubled Waters. I read part of it, but the owner took it away before I finished it. My troubles are so great that at times I feel it may be I have sinned. I do not know what to do. The portion of your book I read inspired me greatly. Could you send me a copy and any other that will help me solve my problems. (This came from Ghana, West Africa, and I sent him a copy)
I just finished reading your book, Trials and Triumphs. and felt real impressed to write and tell you how much it encouraged me. I have been asking the Lord to give me more faith and this book helped me so much. Thank you so much for writing it,
A dear sister gave me two of your books, and I really enjoyed both of them. I feel they have helped me spiritually. I really crave good reading that will draw me closer to God.
Just finished your book, In Straight Paths, and it was such an inspiration to me. I was encouraged and excited when I finished reading it. I received your book at church as a Mother’s Day gift for being the youngest mother. It’s a real life book where I really feel like I can see me at times. It is indeed wonderful and makes me feel that God will help me, as I need it. Pray for me! God bless you.
Your book answers a need out in the public for explaining what real heart holiness is. There is much confusion at this point.
Have read your book, Through Troubled Waters, over and over. Very good.
I believe your book, Through Troubled Waters, is the best book I’ve ever read and the most spiritual for religious fiction. Keep writing books as they help many people.
Thank God for the old-fashioned way of salvation and holiness and for people like you who can write beautiful stories that holds high its banner. May God richly bless you.
Thanks so very much for your books. I read In Straight Paths once again and am now reading the sequel, Plucked out of the Net. I enjoy them so much. Praise God for blessing you with this gift! I pray it will always glorify Him.
I am writing to you in regards to your books I purchased in Findley, Ohio. I gave one to a lady who wasn’t saved. I later sent the other book, Shattered Shackles, to her. She has read them, and they have been a help to her. She has gotten saved and doing her best to walk in the light.
Hope you will write more books. I really appreciate how the Lord has helped you to entwine the gospel in your stories.
Enclosed is a money order for your book, Plucked out of the Net. Sure appreciate your writings. So good and stay close to holiness emphasis. So much today that is called Christian fiction isn’t Christian at all. May the Lord bless you is our prayer.
I’m happy to have the opportunity to receive another book of yours. They have all been excellent and wife and I have read and reread them during the long winter evenings.
I’ve enjoyed your books much and have shared them with others. In fact, they are all out now. I would like to order your latest one. We need more good Christian books for our young people. Also, us older ones enjoy them.
A friend of mine loaned me two of your books. I enjoyed them so much that I would like to send them to my brother who is in jail in North Carolina. One of the books reminds me of him.
I am so happy to have your books where interested and hungry souls can get them. I’m sure your writings are blessing many. The book Through Troubled Waters has been mentioned several times at church illustrating truths of the message given.
I thought you might like to hear of one incident where a young man was kept home from church because of illness in his family. Someone had loaned him your book, Through Troubled Waters, and he read it. The next week he testified how God had mightily dealt with his heart. The church prayed for him until he felt a clear witness.
I’m writing to see if you have written another book. I just read one and think it is wonderful. It has been a real blessing to me. I praise God for people like you that can write such a book, especially the teaching on holiness. If you have written another book, let me know.
The book, Through Troubled Waters, has been such a help to me in many ways. I wish I had what the nurse in the story had. I would gladly give all I had. She is so pure and good. Would that this old world had more like her. Wish I could talk to someone like the nurse but I’m afraid it’s too late. I’m not young anymore. I’m 37 and 1/2. (Thank God, there’s help for anyone who truly wants God in their life. I contacted the lady and did my best to help her. Author.)
Your book came yesterday. I read the inside information but haven’t read the contents yet, but will and also, will let others read it. Your talent came from your sixth grade teacher. ha (He was my sixth grade teacher.) I’m sending a contribution to help with your good work. Keep in touch!
God sure did inspire you as you wrote the book, Through Troubled Waters. Everything that you tucked away here and there as you wrote was amazing. How anyone could think of so much to fit into a story!! I was very much pleased with the way God helped you to use the Scriptures to teach sanctification. There are many who will read it in your book that never would study along that line any other way. I feel that this was the main reason God helped you to get this needful book out. I feel that souls will make it to Heaven because of it—souls that you would never have come into contact with, otherwise.
It usually takes me a week or ten days before I finish a book but finished yours in three evenings. The clear guidance into sanctification is the best I’ve ever read and helped me a lot. The story is so true to life. It holds you completely in suspense all the time. Thank you very much for the book.
We never dreamed we would get to see the author of that wonderful book, Through Troubled Waters. I have wanted to get a copy to send to a real good friend in South America and now I have it. So your good book will perhaps go around the globe.
My family and I have really enjoyed your first four books.
Your book, Shattered Shackles, is so touching. After reading some in your book this morning, I was so moved on by the Spirit to pray for those that are so shackled by drink or drugs. God can surely move on their heart to bring them to Christ.
I am fifteen years old and am writing to compliment you on your book, Through Troubled Waters. I am reading it the second time. I’m going to write a book report on it for school. I’m sure your book has helped many people.
I think you are brave to address the divorce and remarriage issue in your book, Plucked out of the Net. Our young people need that. Lots of people are getting awfully lenient about it. My husband and daughter read the book and really liked it. I think we all agree that it is the best yet. The message is real good.
We wanted to thank you for the privilege of reading your lovely little book. Our youngest daughter in California has just read hers and found it very profitable reading. We did, too. Of course, unless you truly loved the Saviour, you couldn’t have done such a book.
I praise the Lord for giving you such a beautiful gift of writing and for your willingness to share it.
I sat right down and read your book and I truly enjoyed it. We all have our problems and I am no exception. Your book came to me at a time when I was depressed and so unhappy. I received a real blessing from it. You have a wonderful talent in telling of God’s love through stories of life as we live it every day. Thanks!
I would like to tell the world what God and your book has done for me. Praise the Lord! It made me stop and realize there is a God and He truly loves me, regardless of the sins I had committed and the wrong I had done. God was calling me for one of His children. Before I read the book, I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. At times I even hated myself. Just as I put the book down, I had a strong urge to fall on my knees and ask the Lord to forgive my sins and to take the hatred and bitterness out of my heart. Praise the Lord! He immediately answered my prayer.
Believe the Lord has ordained the writing of this book for his people who are in troubled waters.
Enjoyed your book thoroughly. I want five more copies.
We all have our problems and I am no exception. Your book came to me at a time when I was so depressed and so unhappy. I received a real blessing from it.
Surprised and happy to receive your book. The Lord certainly used you in writing it. It is interesting, emotional and evangelistic, very well written, and I’m sure it is a blessing to all who read it. I am interested in ordering some more copies. .
We agreed to use your book for a part of our yearly youth Reading Course. Each year we recommend four or five books for the spiritual edification of our youth and sell them as a package to each youth society. I am heartily recommending it to our youth for two reasons, one is the danger of not obtaining holiness of heart and the other is the need of more personal workers on a one-to-one basis. The book is well written and I’m sure will continue to bless many lives.
Finished reading your fine book. It has an evangelistic message that is up to date and practical. Its message is desperately needed by thousands today.
The story is so true to life. It holds you in suspense all the time. I really enjoyed reading it. The clear guidance into sanctification is the best I’ve ever read and helped me a lot. My copy will be passed on to others as the Lord guides, and pray with me that many will be brought to a better understanding and to the blessing of sanctification.
I read your beautiful book and was truly blessed by it.
Magnificent! It really inspired my mind as well as my heart.Thank you! I will pass this wonderful book on, for truly it’s a soul winner.
If possible, we sure could use more books in this place.
A wonderful message for both young and old. Sure it will be a blessing to many people.
My grandmother taught me you could live above sin in this life. Your book has enlightened me in this matter
Have read your book and found it very enlightening.
May God continue to bless you. (This letter is from the Louisiana State Prison at Angola. I sent more books.)
May God bless those who have taken time to write to me over the years concerning my books. I deeply appreciate it. There are more, but we will sign off for this time. (Author)
Dave Maddox's dreams came to an abrupt halt when he had a serious automobile accident as he and his new bride Carol travelled to their honeymoon the day before Christmas. Carol had critical injuries and finally died of her injuries. This was devastating to Dave. He could only see an empty life, stretching endlessly – no wife, no home, no love, no happiness. He had especially bitter feelings towards Christmas since his accident happened the day before Christmas. While hospitalized, Dave observed that one of the nurses, Jennie Taylor, was very likable, caring, and wonderful with Carol. He also noticed that she prayed with Carol every day. After Carol died, Jennie had told Dave, “If I don't see you anymore, I will be praying for you”. Even though Dave attempted to go on with his life, his grief continued and his life continued to spiral further out of control. After Dave had gone to Joe's Bar, he woke up in jail and was told that he was found sitting on the curb bawling his heart out about “Carol”. Subsequently, when at the drug store, he ran into Jennie and asked her to call him sometime. Dave's lifestyle contributed to health issues and Dave was admitted to the hospital where Jennie worked. While in the hospital, he asked about Jennie but she was out sick at the time. He was very distraught that his life had gone “out of control”. When Rev. Smith, Jenny's pastor, came to visit Dave at the hospital, with Rev. Smith's encouragement, Dave repented of his sins and accepted Christ. When Dave later called Jennie's number to check on her, her mother answered and informed Dave that Jenny was in the hospital. When visiting her there, he told Jenny about Rev. Smith's visit to the hospital and his religious conversion. After Jennie's release from the hospital, they went on several dates. After several weeks, he proposed to her and she accepted. They later married in a quiet ceremony. As time went on, Jennie wanted to become more involved in activities that allowed her to witness for God. Dave, however, would not allow her to get involved in activities outside of the home. Dave began to stray from God and admitted to spiritual defeat. Meanwhile, Jennie became pregnant and gave birth to their beautiful daughter Joan. Dave's condition continued to worsen and he finally left the family. One day, Rev. Smith and his wife showed up to tell Jennie that Dave had been in a car wreck. Jennie went to the hospital and subsequently discovered that Dave was in the car with another woman that he had picked up at a bar – both were drunk at the time of the accident. When Jennie was very forgiving, although Dave had spurned God's love, Dave expressed to Jennie that he was “sick and tired” of the life he had lived and the grief he had caused Jennie and Joan. This led to Dave repenting again for his transgressions. He told Jennie that he would no longer hinder her from doing God's work. Dave returned home with Jennie and Joan shortly before Christmas. After a while, after Joan complained of a headache, she became very ill and had to be hospitalized. Jenny wondered if this was God's way of allowing Dave to realize the importance of achieving a fully sanctified Christian experience. Dave later left to go to a little roadside church to ask God to help him achieve this complete Christian experience. When Dave returned, he was apologetic for the way he had caused Jennie and Joan to suffer. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Spinks came in the room to tell Joan and Dave that Joan seemed to have recovered. In fact, he shared, that she had recovered much faster that he expected. He said he had no hope for recovery when she first came to the hospital. Meanwhile, sounds of “Silent Night, Holy Night” were coming from the hospital corridor. With his prior disdain for Chistmas, he knew then that he had indeed survived his passage “through troubled waters” and had finally obtained a full lasting Christian experience.