One day I decided I had found a way to get rid of that calling. I was going out west to work on a ranch. Friend, God is just as great out there as He is any place. May you profit by my experience. When He calls for you, answer Him.
One September morning in the year 1927, I told Mother I was going on a camping trip to Tunnel Mill, which is about fourteen miles from Jeffersonville where we lived at that time. I had already planned a trip to Arizona with some friends. When Mother heard from me again, I wasn’t at Tunnel Mill but in Phoenix, Arizona, running away from the God of Love. The ranch life was very good for a while, but it soon grew old, like any other pleasure of the world. But may I say here, Praise God, that the experience with Jesus grows sweeter and sweeter all the time and never grows old. Jesus gives perfect peace and comfort always.
Many times have I heard the wind blowing through the tall pines. It seemed as though I could hear His Voice calling away out in the forest, saying, “Adam, where art thou?” The stars seemed to be so close you could pick them with your hands. God seemed to be so near.
One thing about that country is the roads in the desert. If you ever get off the road, you get lost so easy. So many times tourists see little desert flowers and go off the highway to pick them. They wander off in the desert and are lost and sometimes die of thirst. So it is in the Christian way – God has a highway. He speaks of it in Isaiah, 35th chapter. It is called the “Highway of Holiness.” Many times little pleasures of the world draw you off the highway. Then you have lost your experience with God. In the desert when you are lost, there sometimes appears a mirage. To people who are dying of thirst, the mirage will be a river or a lake. Many times people run after them and fall in them only to find that they are just bathing in hot sand. Sometimes the devil shows you something that he says is a good time. That is just a mirage, it is something that isn’t real. If you listen you will find yourself only heaping sorrows on your head. Don’t heed him, dear reader. Believe Jesus who gives you living water for them that hunger and thirst.
One day I got a letter from home telling me that one of my brothers was very ill. It was Edward, the one next to me. Of course I thought it not serious, so I believed he would be all right. But one evening a few days later when I was coming from the city as I passed through the mess hall at the ranch, I saw a paper on the table. I took it up. It read, “Bill, come out to the north pasture. Very important.” After I read the note a friend and I walked out to the pasture. The first person I met was an old Lone Star ranger who worked on the ranch. His name was Durfy, but we called him “Pop.” He had a sad expression on his face as he said, “Billy boy, I have bad news for you.” At that time the foreman came walking up. They told me that a telegram had just arrived, telling me of the death of my brother.
Dear friend, for a moment I could not move. It was the first death in our family. But I want to say that the first thing I thought of was if he was prepared to die. As I turned around and looked across the yellow prairie, tears ran down my cheeks. How I remembered how we’d struggled together when we were little lads and how hard it had been for us.
We went to school with hardly enough to eat. The toes were out of our shoes and we would have to wear old coats pinned up at the neck because we had no shirts on. How I remembered also one day Mother had some popcorn in a little bucket for lunch. We did not eat with the rest of the children. We couldn’t afford food like they had. We would always slip over the hill and eat. I remember the day we had popcorn, we thought it was a real treat. So to be sure I got my share of it, I went out before noon and took a good handful before my brother got his share.
Then standing there looking at that sun parched prairie I thought of all those things and wondered if God had taken him to a better place. Then again God called me, but as usual, I tried to fight it off.
I made ready to come home for the funeral. When Rev. McKinny of Port Fulton Church, a man who is just like a father to me, preached his funeral he made mention that, “There may be some here who do not know God, if so, accept Him now.” Oh how I grasped my seat, God was dealing again. Dear reader, when He calls, answer Him.
I’ll never forget how poor old Dad and Mother cried after the funeral. I wanted to go back West but Mother begged me so hard to stay that I finally agreed to stay if I could find work. I soon got a job with the Public Service Company of Indiana.
About two years later while testing meters in the meter shop at the Gas Works in New Albany, I was overcome with gas and for weeks I suffered from it. I went to all the doctors I knew. I could get no relief. I suffered with acid stomach, caused from the effects of gas. It grew worse all the time. I was taken to specialists in Louisville, Kentucky. They finally said it was my appendix and said I had to have an operation. I could not believe it for I never had a pain in my side. The doctors said they could do no more for me until I had an operation. Finally I agreed to have it done but insisted that they use a local anesthetic so that I could watch the operation.
Oh, I wanted someone to stand by me that knew God. I believed in prayer but could not pray. So the minister from the First Baptist Church went with me to the operating room.
When they took me from the table to my bed, I felt myself getting weaker and weaker all the time. My heart was hardly beating. I felt death upon me. My breath was getting shorter all the time. I knew I had reached the end of my road. Oh friend wait until you get there once, then you will think of a lot of things you have done. I knew I had never smoked, drank or had any unclean habits but I knew I was not ready to meet my God.
My friend if you are only a cold formal church member, you will know when you reach the end that you are not ready. So if that is all you know about my God, I ask you right here to get down on your knees and ask Jesus to give you that experience of being born again, like He told Nicodemus in John chapter 3, and oh how the joy bells will ring. Praise His Name.