Life Sketches Manuscript


Chapter 9—Call To Travel

In my second vision, about a week after the first, the Lord gave me a view of the trials through which I must pass, and told me that I must go and relate to others what He had revealed to me. It was shown me that my labors would meet with great opposition, and that my heart would be rent with anguish; but the angel assured me, “The grace of God is sufficient for you; He will hold you up.” LSMS 90.1

After I came out of this vision I was exceedingly troubled, for it pointed out my duty to go out among the people and present the truth. My health was so poor that I was in constant bodily suffering, and to all appearance had but a short time to live. I was only seventeen years of age, small and frail, unused to society and naturally so timid and retiring that it was painful for me to meet strangers. Having little self-confidence, I was unreconciled to going out into the world, and dreaded to meet its sneers and opposition. LSMS 90.2

For several days, and far into the night, I prayed that this burden might be removed from me, and laid upon some one more capable of bearing it. But the light of duty did not change, and the words of the angel sounded continually in my ears, “Make known to others what I have revealed to you.” LSMS 90.3

Hitherto when the Spirit of God had urged me to duty, I had risen above myself, forgetting all fear and timidity in the great theme of Jesus love and the wonderful work He had done for me. The constant assurance that I was fulfilling my duty and obeying the will of God, gave me a confidence that surprised me, for it was foreign to my nature. At such times I felt willing to do or suffer anything in order to help others into the light and peace of Jesus. LSMS 91.1

But it seemed impossible for me to accomplish this work that was presented before me; even to attempt it seemed certain failure. The trials attending it appeared more than I could endure. How could a child in years, go forth from place to place, unfolding to the people the holy truths of God! My heart shrank in terror from the thought. LSMS 91.2

My brother Robert, but two years older than myself, could not accompany me, for he was feeble in health, and his timidity was greater than mine; nothing could have induced him to take such a step. My father had a family to support, and could not leave his business; but he repeatedly assured me that if God had called me to labor in other places, He would not fail to open the way for me. But these words of encouragement brought little comfort to my desponding heart; the path before me seemed hedged in with difficulties that I was unable to surmount. LSMS 91.3

I coveted death as a release from the responsibilities that were crowding upon me. At length the sweet peace I had so long enjoyed left me, and despair again pressed upon my soul. My prayers all seemed vain, and my faith was gone. Words of comfort, reproof, or encouragement were alike to me; for it seemed that no one could understand me but God, and I feared that He had taken His favor from me forever. As I thought of the light that had formerly blessed my soul, it seemed doubly precious in contrast with the darkness that now enveloped me. LSMS 91.4

The believers in Portland were ignorant concerning the exercises of my mind that had brought me into this state of despondency; but they knew that for some reason my mind had become depressed, and they felt that this was sinful on my part, considering the gracious manner in which the Lord had manifested Himself to me. Meetings were held at my father's house but my distress of mind was so great that I did not attend them for some time. My burden grew heavier until the agony of my spirit seemed more than I could bear. LSMS 92.1

At length I was induced to be present at one of the meetings in my own home. The church made my case a special subject of prayer. Father Pearson, who in my earlier experience had opposed the manifestations of the power of God upon me, now prayed earnestly for me, and counseled me to surrender my will to the will of the Lord. Like a tender father he tried to encourage and comfort me, bidding me believe I was not forsaken by the Friend of sinners. I felt too weak and despondent to make any special effort for myself, but my heart united with the petitions of my friends. I cared little now for the opposition of the world, and felt willing to make every sacrifice if only the favor of God might be restored to me. LSMS 92.2