Personal Experiences of God
Bishop C.D. Foss, L.L. D. (Methodist)
"One of the delightful experiences of my sickness (not creditable to me as being a surprise)
On the first anniversary of an injury which seemed slight, but proved very serious, I feel moved to offer special thanksgiving to Him "in whose hand my breath is." "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?" I can at least swell the chorus of His praise by the addition of one unworthy note.
The first Sabbath in February, 1882, I spent in a prairie village, to which I had volunteered to go in the hope of being a peace-maker between the factions of a discordant church. After preaching on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, holding a love-feast, administering the Lord's Supper, and addressing the Sunday-school, while I was walking rapidly toward the place for the evening service, within fifty feet of the door a misstep gave my foot a fearful wrench and (as was not known until three months later) broke the small bone of the leg. After a few minutes of excruciating pain I managed to hobble into the hall, and, sitting in a chair, preached on personal religious experience--a subject on which I am better informed now than I was then.
On February 5, my health seemed perfect, as it had almost always been. For 27 years no sickness had kept me in my bed a single day. Then came 10 weeks of failing strength, alarming symptoms in my foot, the slow and painfully reluctant surrender of one after another of my Conferences and other appointments for work; then typhoid fever, 75 days in my room (including a month of oblivion); then the slow, O how slow!, creeping back from the gates of the grave.
I had always preached a pretty high doctrine of providential and gracious help, of resignation and of joyful acquiescence in the will of God; too high, some of my friends thought. I was sometimes told that experience would very likely moderate my statements on these subjects. Now I know what I then believed. The teaching was true. I have been promoted into a higher class in the school of Christ, the sufferer's, and I have no fault to find with the great Teacher.
One of the delightful experiences of my sickness (not creditable to me as being a surprise) was that in every strait I always found Jesus on the spot ahead of me. I never had to wait for Him nor look around for Him. Such assurances as these kept chiming in my soul like silver bells: "Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me," "A very present help in trouble," "Before they call I will answer," "Lo, I am with you alway." At no time did I have to struggle for comfort of mind or for anything else. Everything was ready at my hand, more than I would have dared to ask. When I was slipping downward little by little toward the grave, sickness and death seemed to me the easiest and most natural things in the world; but when the outlook changed, and convalescence began, this life looked magnificent. I would not have changed places with Gabriel; to be able to lay hold of God's work again with both hands would make earth a heaven.
When, after long confinement, the fever smote me, and I thought it probable that the beginning of the end had come, I was taken "up into a mountain apart,” and found my Tabor. A certain Wednesday was my diamond of days, and its splendor was followed by the serener glory of other days scarcely less memorable. I was filled and thrilled with an altogether indescribable sense of the absolute verity of the great Christian beliefs and of the magnificent privilege of having any place in the kingdom of God. It was superb to be, do, suffer any thing to please Him. The dying words of Dr. Roberts, the well-known Baltimore local preacher, came often to my lips. When an anxious friend who feared that he would quickly exhaust his failing strength said to him, " Don't shout so; whisper what you wish to say," he answered, 'Let angels whisper; redeemed men must shout.'" Many a time the walls of my chamber echoed those words in no whispered tone. And yet my friends know that my religious experience, while sometimes highly emotional, is rarely demonstrative.
A month later, at another very critical stage of my illness, I was led most delightfully in a very different path. Again and again it occurred to me what a happy outcome of my sickness it would be if the Saviour should come into my room in visible form and instantly heal me. I knew if He should come and say, "What wilt thou?", my quick reply would be, "Lord, make me perfectly whole and perfectly holy."
I did not pray for such a miracle, nor wish it; but day after day in my quiet afternoon hours the inspiring thought kept coming, "How grand a testimony it would be if, in these skeptical times, I might go forth proclaiming that in a single moment the audible word of the visible Christ had perfectly cured me of a severe sprain, a broken bone, typhoid fever, and prostrating weakness; and if my testimony should be so confirmed by that of physicians and friends as to be lifted above the possibility of scientific doubt!"
At length, when this thought had grown so familiar that the realization of it would hardly have surprised me, there came in place of it a strong impression (like an audible voice, and yet there was no voice), sealing on my mind as never before the words, "Thomas, because thou hath seen me thou hast believed. Blessed (I have always thought that means more blessed) are they that have not seen and yet have believed." The delicious fancy of a possible miracle gave place to the solid fact of the greater blessedness of that dispensation of providence and grace which can transform and glorify all suffering; and this was a wondrous sweetener of my long trial.
"O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., Feb. 5, 1883.
Taken from Forty Witnesses, by Rev. S. Olin Garrison, M.A., Fountain Press, Pennsylvania.
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