Incidents in Travel and Soul Winning – By Elmer & Julia Shelhamer

Chapter 10

My Wife’s Smile

When I see a newly wedded couple I do not know whether to smile or weep, for with some their happiness is short-lived, while with others the honeymoon continues through life. As we grow older we naturally lose some of our beauty and vivacity. To atone for this we should make up for the loss by little acts of kindness shown one way or another.

We were standing outside the large auditorium Sunday afternoon at the close of a great service. Some friends came up whom we had not seen for a long time. In the course of our conversation I noticed that when wife smiled she turned her head aside for a moment. After we had gone to our room I asked her why she did so. In modesty she said that several of her front teeth were defective, hence her embarrassment, when she smiled. This made me feel sad, for I wanted that wonderful smile of her youth, and said, “Little Lady, you go tomorrow to the dentist and I will pay the bill, for we cannot afford to do without that smile.” She did so, and though it cost $100.00 I considered it a good investment.

People say they cannot afford this or that, though it would add to the happiness and effectiveness of another; but they can spend money freely for some thing else that is of less value. I remember a home where we were entertained. The rich farmer told me he refused $40,000.00 for his fine farm. The buildings and machinery were up-to-date, the stock were registered. But though this farmer professed a high state of grace, out of his eight grown up children none were saved, or even religiously inclined. When this is the case, it makes no difference who he is, I always feel strange about his real home piety.

In this particular instance we discovered some sad things. His over worked wife did the heavy washing by hand on an old warped washboard; and when asked why she did not have better facilities, since her husband had modern farm conveniences, her reply was, “Oh, he could not afford it.” Her face was swollen because of aching teeth, and when wife asked why she did not go to a dentist she answered again with sarcasm, “Oh, he could not afford it.” Think of it! A man without feeling, a man without affection! Say, there is no hope for such a miser unless he repents. He is doomed to the lowest hell, even if he does have family prayers and stands high in his church. God calls the “covetous man an idolater,” and plainly declares he has “no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.” Yet, sometimes we elect such men as delegates to general gatherings, and this makes us partakers of their deeds. This winking at sin has caused more than one man and movement to cool off amid lose out. “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”

I am writing this on the great ocean liner, “Majestic.” Our passage cost more on this than it would on a small ship, but wife is a poor sailor and it is worth the extra few dollars to see her happy and able to enjoy the voyage. On one trip she was sick for five days out of seven while crossing the Atlantic. I speak of these things not to call attention to self, but in hopes that some other man may get under conviction to rekindle the fires of his first love.

I value very highly wife’s smile, but, oh, her early prayers! She generally awakens at 4:00 A. M. and prays for one or two hours. It seems a peculiar heavenly manna distills and falls gently, so that though she does not make a sound lest she awake me, yet I do awake, I cannot help it, I do not want to help it. I frequently slip out of bed and fall upon my knees and have her put those wonderful hands upon me while her sacred tears fall upon my head. This last morning on the big ship it seemed I needed sleep, for we were up writing and packing till 11:00 P. M. But at 3:30 A.M. I looked over and saw that beautiful form sitting up in prayer. I requested her to pray audibly so I could hear. Oh, how I wish I could pen that prayer. I offered her $5.00 for it, then $10.00. She wept and prayed for the rulers of the world, for professional men, for lawyers, doctors and nurses. For Catholics, priests, nuns and girls as prisoners in the “House of the Good Shepherd.” Also for Mohammedans, heathen, missionaries, ministers, those in prison and condemned to death; those in hospitals, men, women and children in all ranks and walks in life, the world over and world around. I wept and sobbed as I listened to that eloquent pleading.

Ought I to put this on paper? I fear coarse and sensual minds cannot sense or understand the real meaning of communion with God and between two happily united people. Years ago I read something about the “mystery and depth of a woman’s soul.” It seemed next to Jesus for beauty and hidden treasures. When I want to forget that I am a warrior, a traveler, a financier, a publisher, etc., I put my head into her bosom and say, “Let me be a little curly-headed child again; cuddle me and let me once more be free from big responsibilities, for I read, “As one whom his mother comforteth,” so God will comfort us.” Few men know what I am saying. To live the ideal life, to live in each other’s hearts and commune with each other’s spirits is next to living in heaven. Brother, pay any kind of price for this happiness. “Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” — Prov. 31:28-30.