Chapter IX


While in the work of which I have spoken, I was stationed for a while in Reno, Nevada, and there I met Mr. Berg, my husband, who was afterwards to play so large a part in the most marvelous experience that ever came into my life. When my work was finished in Reno, Nevada, I went on to Ogden, Utah, to complete some unfinished work there. Mr. Berg hurried to Ogden, as I was soon leaving for the far east, and there we were married in a little Methodist Church at the close of a Wednesday night service. Mr. Berg (whose name in full is Hjalmer Emmanuel Berg) was a very sweet singer, and shortly after this, my father invited us to go on an evangelistic tour with him, Mr. Berg having charge of the music. It was during this revival period, under my father’s preaching, that Mr. Berg volunteered for the ministry. However, he had had since childhood a sincere faith in the Word of God, and with a strong Christian background, had carried through life an unshaken faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior. My husband did not know my religious convictions when he married me, and never suspected the unbelief that was in my heart. In fact I never told any one of the doubts that had come to be a very part of my existence and changed my entire views of life.

I am so glad that I did not air my unbelief. Not a breath of it ever marred a single life, and thanks for this is due to my father, whom I often heard say, (though I cannot remember the exact words) “If you have doubts, keep them to yourself; do not be a stumbling block to some one else. It is bad enough to fall into Hell, without lying down in the path of some one else and causing them to stumble over you into destruction.” I was conscious that I had lost out of life something that had made the whole world look different; a steadying power and restraining influence that nothing could ever take the place of. And though I never put into words, there was in my heart this thought: “I am not going to take this faith away from any one, for I have nothing to give them in place of it.”

Mr. Berg decided to go to Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa, to study for the ministry, and there in a happy little home, I knew again the joys of home life. I had lived so much in the glare of public life that I was sick of it; it was so restful to be hidden away in a quiet spot; afternoons alone for reading and resting; quiet evenings at home in the cozy chair beside the lamp, sewing, reading, conversing with my companion, and sometimes a little music. I hoped it would go on thus forever. I never wanted to see a platform, pulpit, footlight, glare, publicity, or advertising again. That was all in the past. You see, the work I had done in service for others, had not been done in Christ’s spirit or for His glory, but often with a selfish motive and personal ambitions. Therefore, there was no real joy in it or any lasting satisfaction; so the taste of it turned to bitterness in my mouth. Henceforth, I would live for myself and by myself (except for my family, of course) the rest of my life quietly hidden away. But God had ordered otherwise; He had His hand on my life. My whole life had been fitted, trained and educated for service; not only in the early days under my unusual father, but my schooling, and then the practical experience in the missionary work I have spoken of. And the Lord was not going to lose a soldier from His ranks but was going to take the material He had on hand and make a better one! The Bible says, “The vessel was marred in the hands of the potter, but he made it again.” So God marred my life, that He might make it again. Like Jacob of old, God has to cripple some in order to crown them; crush them in order to create them anew.

Little did I dream in those quiet evenings when I sat in the glow of the lamp, sewing, that God was moving surely, serenely, behind the scenes, setting the stage of my life for new action, and changes I could not have conceived. Selfishly, I planned the coming day and years—what I chose, what I willed; not what God chose, not what He willed. I was perfectly contented; happy, in a worldly way, but always deep down in the depths of my being was that aching void, that bottomless abyss of insatiable desire that is always in a heart that has not Christ to fill it. But for the present, any void was covered over with a newfound happiness, for a great joy had come into my life; a sweet anticipation. Soon little feet would be running around the house, and childish prattle would follow me through the rooms. I could hardly wait. I made every single little garment with my own fingers; not even a machine should touch them. The waiting basket stood in a corner by the stairway; like a throne it looked, resting high on a table except that it was all fluffy and white and woven through with baby-pink ribbon. At last every preparation was made. Instead of sewing in the lamp light those last evenings, I read with throbbing heart of how to care for the little new-born life, and of the wonderful opportunities and responsibilities of motherhood. I can remember so well how I struggled to guard every thought, trying to think of the noblest, highest, and purest; that I might in no way mar the little life that was soon to be ours. Everything was ready; the house even was set in order. So quiet, so peaceful, were those waiting days. Little did I dream that stark tragedy was walking close at my heels; that just around the corner was suffering untold, disappointment, and agony—multiplied a thousand fold. How strange are God’s ways, but how wonderful! How merciful that we cannot draw aside the curtain that veils the future! His Word says: “Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain” (James 4:13). “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14.)

(That which followed these days of expectation, I have told you already in the first chapters of this story; of that beautiful Christmas morning, and the accident that followed.)