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

Chapter 8

Conscientious in Little Things

The Holy Spirit is always faithful to lead or check us, and it is to our interest to mind these checks of the Spirit. I am writing this in the midst of the Atlantic. When I awoke this morning I began, as usual, to pray, after which I read my Bible. I try to always do this before talking to anyone, or reading even my urgent mail. So I thought to myself, “I must hurry, for I do so enjoy for breakfast those buckwheat cakes with maple syrup. I am paying about $35.00 per day for three of us and I might as well get what belongs to me.” Then came a gentle, unexpected whisper, “You are speeding to the great Cincinnati Camp Meeting; do you want a special anointing for it?” I answered quickly, “Yes, my Lord!” And now, not in a weird and commanding tone as when Satan speaks, I heard the same tender, yet persuasive voice, “Would you be willing to deny yourself and fast at breakfast time the rest of the journey in exchange for a special unction?” I confess the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. However, after I waited patiently I felt quite sure the Lord Himself was speaking. When He speaks, such a rest of soul and a calm, gracious atmosphere prevails. The result was a specially rich, season of communion with God. And later, may I say, Joseph Smith and others remarked that a special unction was upon His unworthy servant.

But this is like Greek and Latin to those who know not the meaning of self-denial. Yea, even some preachers will call it “legalism,” but this is simply an other proof that they are “living after the flesh.” It is blessed to so honor God in little things that we can in confidence make Him responsible for big things. If we commit everything to Him, He will commit great things to us. Brother, we fit or unfit ourselves for the future. We prepare the way years in advance for success or failure. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust (or pleasures) of the flesh.”

To illustrate this great principle: I was out for a promenade and prayer. While walking, I saw that across the little railing which separates between the third and second class, there was a long stretch of deck unused, as most of this class were inside reading, drinking and playing cards. “So,” thought I to myself, “I will step across and have a nice quiet time with the Lord. I am not robbing the steamship company, I am not crowding anyone out of his rights; hence I am not guilty of duplicity. The captain on the large ship from South Africa to England (6,000 miles) knew me from a previous sailing and gave me (as a minister) certain privileges not usually granted. I believe this captain would do likewise.”

Thus, for the time being I felt secure, but suddenly the deck officer appeared for duty. He did not even look at me, yet I felt a bit uneasy lest he should ask to which class I belonged. I stepped to the large railing and looked at the huge billows tossing the giant “Majestic” of over 56,000 tons like a cork. “My,” thought I, “would not Satan delight to push me overboard, as he came so near doing three years ago? Lord Jesus protect me!”

But I did not feel the reassuring presence of God this time as before. Then it dawned on me why I could not fully claim His protection. “I am out of my sphere.” With this, I crossed back to my own deck; then with confidence I could easily defy Satan, for I was now on “believing ground” — as the early Methodists would say when a soul was about to get the witness of the Spirit. Yes, if we are conscientious in little things we need have no fears about the future.

Recently two men were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. One was relating that he and his wife did not get along well together, when suddenly he leaped over the railing, plunging into the Hudson River, and was never seen. Now, he had evidently prepared the way for this sad end by a life of sin, hence was out from under the protection of God. In other words, he lived for the Devil, and Satan took advantage when he found him off his guard, and hurried him to hell to be sure of getting him there. We read, “Then entered Satan into Judas,” and he was prepared to do the awful deed. Satan had watched him for years and now found him an easy prey and ready to be possessed.

O friend, you are as sure of Heaven as if you were already there, as long as you keep yourself in the love of God. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but, he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” On the other hand, when you fail to keep yourself under the precious blood, when you trifle with little things, when you go back on former convictions, when you come down and live on the same plane with the generality of men, then you expose yourself to fierce temptations, and no marvel if you have a sad and mournful end.