Chapter XI

The End of the Trail

In an old-fashioned parsonage in northern California I came to the end of the trail; the end of searching for help, the end of resources, the end of help. During those last few months I was more nearly dead than alive; more unconscious than conscious—it was the end. I had reached the limit of endurance, when one day Mr. Berg came quickly into my room and, kneeling by my bed, said in a strange, happy voice: “I have just made a wonderful discovery.” “Yes?” I whispered, too weak to take much interest. “I have found,” he said, “that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” It wasn’t what he said that interested me, but his excited, earnest manner. He seemed deeply moved, and I listened curiously to what he told me. “You remember some time ago a little book that I gave the nurse to read aloud to you? A little book about answers to prayers? (It was a book written by A.B. Simpson, a Presbyterian minister, and told of God’s marvelous dealings with him when seriously ill and how he was miraculously delivered. See note at the end of this chapter.) You remember how you forbade the nurse to read any more after the first chapters, because you said it was ‘the utmost fanaticism and that any one was a fool to believe such stuff?’ Well I believe it—every word of it—and I have looked up all the Scriptures he referred to, the promises he claimed when he received his wonderful answer to prayer, and I have come definitely to the conclusion that those promises are for us today; they are real, and God means just what He says, and if we will really believe Him He will keep His Word and give us the desires of our heart. I’ve spent a couple of days marking the promises in my Bible and studying all about it and I can’t find where any of them have been cancelled; they are for us today just as much as for those back there in Bible times, and better still, Christ has never changed—He’s exactly the same as He was back there; the same love, the same compassion, the same power; ‘Jesus Christ the same today and forever,’ the Bible says. Oh, it is wonderful; I can’t understand why I didn’t see it all before.” I marveled at his earnestness, for he was deeply moved. His face was aglow, his eyes alight, and his manner that of one who is deeply thrilled over a wonderful discovery. But I was hardly interested in what he said. In fact, to me, he seemed to be exercised greatly over nothing. God had in some wonderful way brought new light to his heart, opened his mind, and illuminated His Word to him; but such was not my case. God’s Word says, in Ephesians: “They were darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God.” This scripture could truly have been written for me, for I had no faith at all in what he said; in fact I rather feared that he was getting into some kind of fanaticism. But Mr. Berg was not easily discouraged; there had come into his heart such a living, vital faith that he expected, and was determined to see, on my part, a complete change of heart and full restoration of body.

I can truly say he prayed day and night—hours upon hours at a time; I can see him now, kneeling beside my bed praying, and then singing some of the old faith hymns. He would pray for a season and then sing a while, then quote the promises of Scripture to me. Night and day he endeavored to bring to my heart the same faith, light, and assurance that had broken into his. I can remember so well marveling at his earnestness—the intensity with which he persevered and prayed; surely here was such a case as the Scripture speaks of viz., rugged men of faith “take the kingdom of Heaven by violence.” As I look back now I cannot understand how his body ever stood the strain. Many times as I awakened in the early hours of the morning, when the first rays of the sun were just creeping up over the top of those California hills, I would see him there still kneeling, sometimes with hands lifted to Heaven—again with head bowed upon the bed. It made my heart ache, for it was all so hopeless to me and I dreaded the disappointment and discouragement that I thought would some day be his. To me the Heavens were brass, and the hours of kneeling, and nights of lost sleep seemed so useless. But how true is that wonderful verse in James 5:16: “For the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And soon there stirred in my heart a tiny flame of hope—so small it was hardly worth mentioning, but I listened to his praying, reading, and persuading, with more interest and openness of heart. He marked in an old Bible of mine the best of the promises, and called them “Stepping stones of faith.” These he patiently taught me; as I could not read, he read them to me over and over, insisting that I must memorize them. It was the same with some of the old faith hymns; he had memorized them himself and verse by verse kneeling by my bed, he would sing them by heart. I told him once I thought he could sing “How Firm a Foundation” backwards. Precious old hymn! It is most dear to my heart today because of the memories entwined about it. Every time I hear it sung, that scene comes back to me.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

When thro’ the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trails to bliss,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to His foes;
That soul tho’ all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.

It was the same with the sweet song: “Standing on the Promises of Christ, My King.” In those days when the fighting would go hard with this precious man of God who was fighting this battle of faith he would walk the floor and sing—and how he could sing it:

Standing on the Promises
Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Thro’ eternal ages let His praises ring;
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior,
Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.

At times, when I would seem to be slipping out of this world, and it looked as if his prayers and efforts were all in vain, he would put up a fight as real as any soldier ever fought on the battle field, standing over me quoting promises, and using them in the same manner, and with the same earnestness that a soldier would brandish a sword while forcing back the foe. To my poor, dull mind, it seemed at times that he was fighting a tremendous battle against unseen legions. And indeed it was true, for I can understand now that the powers of darkness also fought for my life, As I would sink away into unconsciousness I would hear him say: “It is Thy Word, Lord, and it cannot fail; these are Thy promises, and I am holding on to them, and I expect Thee to keep Thy Word. The scripture speaks of “the fight of faith”; it says, “Fight the good fight of faith,” and surely that little bedroom in that old parsonage in California was a real battle-ground, and the man fighting the battle had no intention of giving up.

NOTE: Following are a few quotations from the writings of A.B. Simpson, whose book the Lord used so greatly for our blessing and whose life of faith has been the inspiration of thousands.

Man has a two-fold nature. He is both a material and a spiritual being. And both natures have been equally affected by the Fall. His body is exposed to disease; his soul is corrupted by sin. How blessed, therefore, to find that the complete scheme of redemption includes both natures, and provides for the restoration of physical as well as the renovation of spiritual life. The Redeemer appears among men with His hands outstretched to our misery and need, offering both Salvation and healing. He offers Himself to us as a Savior to the uttermost; His indwelling Spirit the life of our spirit; His resurrection body the life of our mortal flesh. He begins His ministry by healing all that have need of healing; He closes it by making on the Cross a full atonement for our sin, and then on the other side of the open tomb He passes into Heaven, leaving the double commission for “all the world” and “all the days even unto the end of the world;” “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils—they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”

This was “the faith once delivered unto the saints.” What has become of it? Why is it not still universally taught and realized? Did it disappear with the Apostolic age? Was it withdrawn when Peter, Paul and John were removed? By no means. It remained in the Church for centuries, and only disappeared gradually in the growing worldliness, corruption, formalism and unbelief.

“With a reviving faith, with a deepening spiritual life, with a more marked and Scriptural recognition of the Holy Spirit and the Living Christ, and with the nearer approach of the returning Master Himself, this blessed gospel of physical redemption is beginning to be restored to its ancient place, and the Church is slowly learning to reclaim what she never should have lost. But along with this there is also manifested such a spirit of conservative unbelief and cold, traditional, theological rationalism as to make it necessary that we should “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

The causes of disease and suffering are distinctly traced to the Fall and sinful state of man. If sickness were part of the natural constitution of things, then we might meet it wholly on natural grounds, and by natural means. But if it be part of the curse of sin, it must have its true remedy in the great Redemption. That sickness is the result of the Fall, and one of the fruits of sin, no one can surely question. Death, we are told has passed upon all, for that all have sinned, and the greater includes the less.

If sickness be the result of a spiritual agency, it is most evident that it must be met and counteracted by a higher spiritual force, and not by mere natural treatment. And again, on the supposition that sickness is a Divine discipline and chastening, it is still more evident that its removal must come, not through mechanical or physical appliances, but through spiritual channels.”

From The Gospel of Healing, by Dr. A.B. Simpson, Founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.