Thank God for one who was willing to hold on in prayer until God sent the answer. Even with this wonderful victory my husband was not satisfied; he wanted not only my soul saved, but my life saved, also. I did not have to tell him of the change that had come, for he could easily see it, but after we talked it over he said confidently, “Now the Lord is going to restore your health also, and raise you up from this bed.” “You mean that He is going to heal me?” I asked, for while He had become so real to me, yet the idea of Christ working any miracles today was still beyond my comprehension; I truly did not see how such a thing could happen today; it was almost inconceivable to me. I thought back and tried to remember if I had ever met anyone who had claimed that God had definitely done such a thing for them; so far as I could remember, I could not recall anything of that nature. Of course I had known something of the new healing cults, but to simply take a promise from God’s Word and utterly trust Him to fulfill it, was something I knew nothing about. True, I had seen a demonstration of claiming God’s promises—in that very room—in my husband’s prayers for me, resulting in my own change of heart; certainly he had claimed the promises of God and God had heard and answered, but could it be that those promises were as real and practical as that in everything? Did I have only to write my name under a promise and cash it at the bank of Heaven? Could it be possible that even health could be restored by claiming one of those promises and appropriating it? It seemed impossible that the Lord could have given us such a privilege; trusted us with such power.
I can never forget that day when it dawned upon my consciousness a reality, a fact, that the promises of the Bible were practical; could actually be applied to my everyday needs. It was a revelation to me. I understood now what Mr. Berg meant, and why he looked so happy that day when he came to my room and said: “I have just made a great discovery.” I understood now because I had made that discovery myself. I knew now that God meant exactly what He said in the numerous promises given in His Word and that He would fulfill every one of them to the letter, if faith would reach out and claim them in a definite manner.
God’s Word said, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
So after all it is a very serious matter to either overlook or look lightly at the promises of God, because by these we become “partakers of the divine nature.” I would never dared to have taken a promise and stepped out on it expecting God to really meet me, for to my limited faith-knowledge they were only beautiful Scripture-language, never meant to be taken seriously or for practical application. I fear I was like the woman who asked. “Well, why do you think God put all these promises in His Word? What are they for?” “Why just to fill up space,” I suppose.
I believe, however, if I had thought about it at all in former days, I was more like the very ignorant Scottish woman who had lived most of her life hidden way back in the hill country of Scotland, and, so poor she was unable to pay her rent, had to depend upon her church to take care of it for her. One day when her pastor, a very kind-hearted man, brought the rent to her, he said, “Mrs. McKintrick, you will pardon me if I speak very plainly to you about something and I am sure you will understand. Your friends who are helping you with the rent cannot understand why it is that your boy does not support you. I understand he has a very good position in Australia, and that he is a good boy and loves you dearly. Is this not the case?” “Oh, yes,” said the mother, “and he never forgets me, for every week he writes me the most loving letter; I would like for you to see one of his letter.” Curious to know more of such a son, who could so love a mother, and yet leave her without support, the pastor instantly signified that he would be glad to see some of the letters. Soon the woman returned with two packages, one of which she put in the pastor’s hands and said, “These are his letters.” The pastor was untying the faded string about them when she said, “With every letter he always sends me a pretty picture. They aren’t very big, and just fit nicely in the letter, but it shows he thinks about me.” The pastor lifted his head, interested at once, “A picture in every letter?” He was more curious than ever. “May I see them also?” “Oh, surely,” she answered, “Some are of a man’s head, some of a man sitting on a horse, and a number of them have the king’s picture on them. See this one here has the King of England—long live the king!” “Long live your son!” said the astonished pastor. Why, my dear friend, do you know that you are a rich woman? These are bank notes; this is money. Why you have wealth here; and to think of how you have suffered and done without, when right here in the house all the time you had riches, and thought they were just pretty pictures.”
This was surely my trouble when it came to the promises in God’s Word. I thought they were just pretty pictures, just beautiful language. For instance the twenty-third Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still water.” To me this was just beautiful poetry, a picture story. I never dreamed for a moment that it had a literal application; that Jesus would be to us a shepherd and fulfill in our experience every verse of that Psalm, if we really trusted Him. What a pity that so many today look upon the hundreds of promises in God’s Word in the same manner as I did.
But now this was all different. It seemed strange to me that I had never taken God’s Word literally before. Why He meant exactly what He said! How could I have ever thought anything else? How blind I had been! How blind we all had been. Here God had put at our disposal unlimited resources and we were not claiming any of them, but acting exactly as if these promises were just so many words that did not mean a thing. As some one had said: “Just pretty pictures couched in beautiful language.”
There was one very serious hindrance in the way of my recovery and that was the fact that I did not at that time have a genuine desire to live. Since my “change of heart,” all fear of death had been taken away, and I was literally homesick for Heaven. I had suffered so much that life had lost its attractiveness; while through my new experience Heaven had become more attractive. I, who had once looked upon Heaven as such an unreal, imaginative thing, now believed it to be as real as the world in which I existed, and ardently longed for its rest and blessings. The Lord Himself had grown so precious to me, and the very thought of seeing Him face to face was so wonderful that I felt I could hardly wait. What marvelous transformations prayer can work!—one day fearing death until I was in cold sweat; the next, all fear gone, and in its place a longing to cross death’s borders into a better land. I was homesick for Heaven, but Mr. Berg said to me: “Have you never thought that the Lord may want to use your life, that you must life for His glory? If He were to raise you up from this death bed, think how many people’s faith would be strengthened! Don’t you want to glorify Him?” That was so wonderful that my heart leaped at the very thought—the thought that I could in any way glorify His Name, in any way be of service to Him. How rejoiced I would be if I could do the least thing for Him! He had done so much for me and I loved Him so much that my heart simply thrilled at the thought.
That night when a helper in the home was reading aloud to me, (having opened the Bible at random) she read, amongst other passages, the following: “This sickness is not unto death, but that God might be glorified.” That verse struck my heart as if God Himself had spoken to me. For hours it rang through my heart until at last I said: “Oh, Lord I have said I would gladly die for You, but instead I will gladly live for You; now give me the faith for life—the faith to claim Your promises, and raise me up from this death bed.” That night when Mr. Berg came into the room I said to him: “I am going to live for the Lord, but you will have to pray that He will give me the faith, for it is truly beyond my comprehension how He can raise one up who is in the condition that I am in; who is so unworthy and whose faith is so small.” Oh, indeed He was real and precious to me, but to think of Him working a miracle like that today was a real leap of faith beyond anything I could conceive.
But at last the date was set for prayer; the day when we would ask the Lord to raise me up. Mr. Berg believed in being very definite about it. He had often said: “God has been definite with us, giving us definite promises to stand on, stating them in very definite terms, and we are going to be definite with Him. We will definitely prepare our hearts, definitely claim a couple of promises, and then on a definite date we will close the transaction and forevermore count it done.”
During those waiting days I fell asleep committing promises, and wakened repeating them. I did so much want to have the faith, the right kind of faith, and as big as I thought it should be to get such a wonderful thing from the Lord. I wanted to do my part. If I had only known then that the faith that gets things from God is not some “great big thing” but simply taking God at His Word.