Stepping Heavenward
Mrs. E. Prentiss

Part 6 out of 6

all of it, shines in every face, is heard in every tone. It is a home
that typifies and foreshadows the home that is perfect and eternal.

Our dear Helen has been given us for this emergency. Is it not
strange that seeing our domestic life should have awakened in her
some yearnings for a home and a heart and children of her own. She
has said that there was a weary point in her life when she made up
her mind that she was never to know these joys. But she accepted her
lot gracefully. I do not know any other word that describes so well
the beautiful offering she made of her life to God and then to us. He
accepted it, and as given her all the cares and responsibilities of
domestic life without the transcendent joys that sustain the wife and
the mother. She has been all in all to our children and God has been
all in all to her. And she is happy in His service and in our love.

JUNE 20-It took me nearly two weeks to write the above at intervals
as my strength allowed. Ernest has consented to my finishing this
volume, of which so few pages yet remain. And he let me see a dear
old friend who came all the way from my native town to see me-Dr.
Eaton, our family physician as long as I could remember. He is of an
advanced age but full of vigor, his eye bright, and with a healthful
glow on his cheek. But he says he is waiting and longing for his
summons home. About that home we had a delightful talk together that
did my very heart good. Then he made me tell him about this long
sickness and the years of frail health and some of the sorrows
through which I had toiled.

"Ah, these lovely children are explained now," he said.

"Do you really think," I asked, "that it has been good for my
children to have a feeble, afflicted mother?"

"Yes, I really think so. A disciplined mother--disciplined children."

This comforting thought is one of the last drops in a cup of felicity
already full.

JUNE 2-Another Sunday, and all at church except my darling Una who
keeps watch over her mother. These Sundays when I have had them each
alone in turn have been blessed days to them and to me. Surely this
is some compensation for what they lose in me of health and vigor. I
know the state of each soul as far as it can be known, and have every
reason to believe that my children all love my Saviour and are trying
to live for Him. I have learned at last not to despise the day of
small things, to cherish the tenderest blossom, and to expect my dear
ones to be imperfect before they become perfect Christians.

Una is a sweet composed young girl now eighteen years old and what
can I say more of the love her brothers bear her than this: they
never tease her. She has long ceased asking why she must have
delicate health when so many others of her age are full of animal
life and vigor but stands in her lot and place doing what she can,
suffering what she must, with a meekness that makes her lovely in my
eyes, and that I am sure unites her closely to Christ.

JUNE 27 .-It was Raymond's turn to stay with me today. He opened his
heart to me more freely than he had ever done before.

"Mamma," he began, "if papa is willing, I have made up my mind-that
is to say if I get decently good-to go on a mission."

I said playfully:

"And mamma's consent is not to be asked ?"

"No," he said, "getting hold of what there is left of my hand. "I
know you wouldn't say a word. Don't you remember telling me once when
I was a little boy that I might go and welcome?"

"And don't you remember," I returned, "that you cried for joy, and
then relieved your mind still farther by walking on your hands with
your feet in the air?"

We both laughed heartily at this remembrance, and then I said:

"My dear boy, you know your fathers plan for you?"

"Yes, I know he expects me to study with him, and take his place in
the world."

"And it is a very important place."

His countenance fell as he fancied I was not entering heartily into
his wishes.

"Dear Raymond," I went on, "I gave you to God long before you gave
yourself to Him. If He can make you useful in your own, or in other
lands, I bless His name. Whether I live to see you a man, or not, I
hope you will work in the Lord's vineyard, wherever He calls. I never
asked anything but usefulness, in all my prayers for you; never once.
His eyes filled with tears; he kissed me and walked away to the
window to compose himself. My poor, dear, lovable, loving boy! He has
all his mother's trials and struggles to contend with ;but what
matter it if they bring him the same peace?

JUNE 30.--Everybody wonders to see me once more interested in my
long-closed Journal, and becoming able to see the dear friends from
whom I have been, in a measure cut off. We cannot ask the meaning of
this remarkable increase of strength.

I have no wish to choose. But I have come to the last page of my
Journal, and living or dying, shall write in this volume no more. It
closes upon a life of much childishness and great sinfulness, whose
record makes me blush with shame but I no longer need to relieve my
heart with seeking sympathy in its unconscious pages nor do I believe
it well to go on analyzing it as I have done. I have had large
experience of both joy and sorrow; I have the nakedness and the
emptiness and I have seen the beauty and sweetness of life. What I
say now, let me say to Jesus What time and strength I used to spend
in writing here, let me spend in praying for all men, for all
sufferers who are out of the way, for all whom I love. And their name
is Legion for I love everybody.

Yes I love everybody! That crowning joy has come to me at last.
Christ is in my soul; He is mine; I am as conscious of it as that my
husband and children are mine; and His Spirit flows from mine in the
calm peace of a river whose banks are green with grass and glad with
flowers. If I die it will be to leave a wearied and worn body, and a
sinful soul to go joyfully to be with Christ, to weary and to sin no
more. If I live, I shall find much blessed work to do for Him. So
living or dying I shall be the Lord's.

But I wish, oh how earnestly, that whether I go or stay, I could
inspire some lives with the joy that is now mine. For many years I
have been rich in faith; rich in an unfaltering confidence that I was
beloved of my God and Saviour. But something was wanting I was ever
groping for a mysterious grace the want of which made me often
sorrowful in the very midst of my most sacred joy, imperfect when I
most longed for perfection. It was that personal love to Christ of
which my precious mother so often spoke to me which she often urged
me to seek upon my knees. If I had known then, as I know now what
this priceless treasure could be to a sinful human soul, I would have
sold all that I had to buy the field wherein it lay hidden. But not
till I was shut up to prayer and to the study of Gods word by the
loss of earthly joys, sickness destroying the flavor of them all, did
I begin to penetrate the mystery that is learned under the cross. And
wondrous as it is, how simple is this mystery! To love Christ and to
know that I love Him-this is all!

And when I entered upon the sacred yet oft-times homely duties of
married life, if this love had been mine, how would that life have
been transfigured! The petty faults of my husband under which I
chafed would not have moved me; I should have welcomed Martha and her
father to my home and made them happy there; I should have had no
conflicts with my servants, shown no petulance to my children. For it
would not have been I who spoke and acted but Christ who lived in me.

Alas! I have had less than seven years in which to atone for a
sinful, wasted past and to live a new and a Christ-like life. If I am
to have yet more, thanks be to Him who has given me the victory, that
Life will be Love. Not the love that rests in the contemplation and
adoration of its object; but the love that gladdens, sweetens,
solaces other lives.

O gifts of gifts!
O grace of faith
My God! how can it be
That Thou who hast discerning love,
Shouldst give that gift to me?

How many hearts thou mightst have had
More innocent than mine!
How many souls more worthy far
Of that sweet touch of Thine?

Oh grace! into unlikeliest hearts
It is thy boast to come
The glory of Thy light to find
In darkest spots a home.

Oh happy. happy that I am!
If thou canst be, O faith
The treasure that thou art in life
What wilt thou be in death?



WHILE my fellow-traveler and I were walking by the side of Loch
Katrine one fine evening after sunset in our road to a hut where in
the course of our tour we had been hospitably entertained some weeks
before, we met, in one of the loneliest parts of that solitary region
two well-dressed women, one of whom said to us by way of greeting,
"What, you are stepping westward?"

"What, you are stepping westward?" "Yea." --'Twould be a wildish
destiny If we who thus together roam In a strange land and far from
home Were in this place the guests of chance: Yet who would stop, or
fear to advance, Though home or shelter he had none, With such a sky
to lead him on? The dewy ground was dark and cold; Behind, all gloomy
to behold: And stepping westward seemed to be A kind of heavenly
destiny: I liked the greeting; 'twas a sound Of something without
place and bound, And seemed to give me spiritual right To travel
through that region bright. The voice was soft and she who spake Was
walking by her native lake: The salutation had to me The very sound
of courtesy: Its power was felt; and while my eye Was fixed upon the
glowing sky, The echo of the voice enwrought A human sweetness with
the thought Of traveling through the world that lay Before me in my
endless way. --WORDSWORTH.

The End


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