Loneliness and Heart-Cravings
Separation which sin produces always leaves loneliness in the lives of those concerned. Your writer’s life in the earliest stages was one of great loneliness. “Mamma” was good to me, and sought to instill in my life principles of character. My father was also a man of moral fortitude — always standing for truth and honesty. I believe “mamma” truly loved God and walked in such light as she had, even though I never heard her pray during all the years I lived under her roof. She loved her Bible and would sometimes read to me from Proverbs — specially those portions which concern the purity of young men. Just how much these scriptural warnings have meant in my life I shall never know in this world, but I am certain they have served as a mighty bulwark in the face of temptations fierce and strong. I am indebted to that humble life whose frail body has long since rested beneath the cold clay of the country graveyard. She taught me to work and demanded of me truthfulness and honesty. She had never heard of such a thing as “child psychology,” so she was a great believer in “panticillin,” therefore raised me repeatedly with her “shelalies” which were always kept handy. I have had reason to thank God many times for such correction — straight-edgings for my life.
Due to the great difference in our ages, and also on account of her frailty of body, she failed to understand my boyish wishes for companionship and soul-hunger for affection. This was partially supplied by our family dog dubbed “old Rover.” He seemed to understand in part as I would sometimes bury my face on his neck and weep my heart out. I often tried to pray, but, having been taught that we could only hope that we were in the number of “elect” for whom Christ died, I was never sure that He would hear my prayer. Being the only child in the home, and possessing an affectionate nature, it is of small wonder that I was always in love with “little girl friends” who crossed my lonely path. More than once was my childish heart deeply bruised by these having to move to another part of the country. God be praised that I always wanted the pure and the well-behaved as my passing lovers. My father and grandmother called my love affairs puppy love,” but they were sincere affairs, nevertheless.
I loved my “pappa” very dearly and enjoyed being near him, but, with the exception of those times when we worked together in the field, or cut timber in the woods, or did some other type of labor, I was not too often privileged to be with him. He too had his own burdens to bear, and never knew the deep heart-hungerings of his small son. I am sure he loved me tenderly, but there lacked the companionship needed. (My aged father still lives in Mississippi and appreciates his preacher son even though he has not understood some of my deep convictions against the ways of the world. It is my deep heart-cry that he, together with other members of the family, may know the Lord in truth, then at the end of the way share our mutual joys in the land of no loneliness).
Often times, in my day dreams, I had secret longings, and sincerely hoped that God would somehow work His wonders in my unworthy life, and tried to pray that, perchance that I were among the “elect,” I might some day know that my soul was saved. Days without number I have planted my bare feet in the newly made furrows and pondered in my mind the possibility of my being saved. I had sadly been taught that none of us could know whether Christ died for us, since only the eternally “elect” were among that number. This is unspeakably sad. (This is the twin doctrine of the popular theory of “once saved always saved” regardless of how one lives. Both are popular falsehoods.)
How great and good is our God to hear the cry of a bewildered child and do far more for him than he could even dream of. Through those years of mute mystery and great heart-yearnings He was working out a plan which in later years has gradually been unfolding.