Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    Chapter 10—Halfway

    One day a minister, feeling that he just had to tell someone about his problems, sat down and wrote to Mrs. White, mourning the fact that he did not live closer to God. “It is difficult,” he said, “to put my whole heart—my whole being—into my religion.” Although he had called himself a Christian for a long time and had devoted much of his life to God’s service, he felt strangely depressed and unhappy. He believed that no true Christian could possibly feel as sad as he did. What, he wondered, was wrong with his life?AOT 77.1

    In reply Ellen G. White explained that his difficulties should teach him to trust in God. Problems would break down his confidence in his own ability to manage things and help him to let God control his life and daily affairs. To illustrate how he should react to his trials, she told of an incident during the battle Great Britain, France, and Turkey fought against the Russians at the Alma River in Russia. On September 20, 1854, the forces of the three countries scrambled down the steep banks of the Alma and waded across the stream to attack the czarist army. The withering Russian fire drove the allies back and threatened to turn the battle into a complete rout. Then the tide of battle changed. “The ensign [a commissioned British officer who carried the company or regimental flag] ... stood his ground as the troops retreated,” Mrs. White said. “The captain shouted to him to bring back the colors, but the reply of the ensign was, ‘Bring up the men to the colors!’AOT 77.2

    “This is the work that devolves upon every faithful standard-bearer,” she continued, “to bring up the men to the colors. The Lord calls for wholeheartedness. We all know that the sin of many professed followers of Christ is that they lack the courage and the energy to bring themselves and those connected with them up to the standard....AOT 78.1

    “I have faith to believe you will not stop at the halfway house, but will ‘follow on to know the Lord,’” she commented farther on in the letter, “that you may know His goings forth are prepared as the morning. The Lord loves us, and all He asks is that you respond to His love.”AOT 78.2

    In her own life Mrs. White did not stop at any symbolic halfway house. Trusting in Christ’s leadership, she did not let difficulties stop her service for God or let them discourage her. She lived the kind of Christian life she taught others to live. Not even the death of her husband kept her from following God.AOT 78.3

    Portions of the spring and early summer of 1881 James and Ellen White spent in Battle Creek, Michigan. Administrative duties had made them extremely busy for some time and prevented them from writing as much as they wanted to. James hoped to arrange their responsibilities so that they could return to California and devote time to preparing several books. He felt that they had made a mistake in letting themselves get involved in work others could do perhaps just as well. The greater and more important task before them, he believed, was to write. But try as he would, he could not seem to escape the constant demands placed on him, and the Whites remained in Michigan.AOT 78.4

    In July they received an invitation to speak at a series of tent meetings in Charlotte on the weekend of the twenty-third and twenty-fourth. Not feeling well, Mrs. White suggested that they drive the twenty miles with their horse and carriage rather than take the recently completed Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway (now the Grand Trunk Western Railroad).AOT 79.1

    As the horse plodded north to Charlotte along the crude country roads, James slipped into a thoughtful, almost sad, mood. “The future seems cloudy and uncertain,” he commented, “but the Lord would not have us distressed over these things.” He acted as if he expected that some great event or crisis would soon occur. “When trouble comes,” he continued, “He will give us grace to endure it. What the Lord has been to us, and what He has done for us, should make us so grateful that we would never murmur or complain.” Silent for a moment, he reflected on what he had accomplished in his life. Sadness haunted his eyes. Perhaps he remembered the complaining, critical attitude of too many toward his leadership. “Our labors, burdens, and sacrifices will never be fully appreciated by all,” he said with a sigh. “I see that I have lost my peace of mind and the blessing of God by permitting myself to be troubled by these things.”AOT 79.2

    The Whites rode along together, mingling memories of the difficulties they had faced with the many more times God had blessed them. They worried about the growth of the struggling Seventh-day Adventist Church, yet their faith told them the church would survive. Their love for each other and the church, strong as it was, grew even stronger while they talked the hours away en route to Charlotte. Neither knew it would be their last trip together.AOT 80.1

    Over the weekend the temperature dropped suddenly, as it occasionally does during Michigan summers. Chilling cold replaced oppressive heat. Although he caught a cold, James White considered his health robust enough that he would quickly get over it. After speaking several times during the meetings, he and Mrs. White drove back to Battle Creek. At home he mentioned to Mrs. White that he felt slightly ill, but he resumed his many duties.AOT 80.2

    Almost daily requests came in the mail asking the Whites to attend camp meetings scheduled throughout the country. Despite the fact that they wanted to spend more time writing, they hated to turn down the speaking appointments. Every morning they walked to a grove of trees near their home and prayed for guidance in what they should do. A week passed, and each day James White grew a little sicker. On Sabbath morning they went to the grove as usual. Dropping to his knees, James prayed with strong intensity three times. Each time his words and voice revealed a greater longing for God’s blessing and guidance. God accepted his prayers, and calmness flooded their hearts.AOT 80.3

    “Now I give it all up to Jesus,” he said slowly, looking at his wife. “I feel a peace, an assurance that the Lord will show us our duty, for we desire to do His will.”AOT 81.1

    Rising from beneath trees dressed in dusty summer green, James and Ellen White walked to the Battle Creek Tabernacle, where James opened the services by leading the singing and offering prayer. This would be the last time the Whites would stand together behind the pulpit.AOT 81.2

    On Monday James had a severe attack of chills. On Tuesday Ellen had a similar bout. A man came from the Battle Creek Sanitarium and gave the ill minister hydrotherapy treatments, the only thing they then knew to do. Wednesday, friends took them to the Sanitarium. By Friday Mrs. White began to recover, but James’s condition worsened until the doctor in charge—John Harvey Kellogg—feared for the Adventist leader’s life. James White continually wanted to go to sleep, and Dr. Kellogg became afraid the older man might slip into a coma. To prevent it, he tried using strong stimulants. Then he notified close family friends that death might be close.AOT 81.3

    The doctor personally told Mrs. White what was happening. She asked to be taken to her husband’s room. Seeing his face, she realized that he would soon die. She tried to awaken him. When she asked him questions, he replied with either a Yes or a No. Although he understood everything said to him, he lacked the strength to answer more than a word. Told by his wife that he was dying, he showed no surprise.AOT 81.4

    “James, is Jesus precious to you?” she inquired.AOT 82.1

    “Yes, oh, yes,” he said weakly.AOT 82.2

    “Have you no desire to live?”AOT 82.3

    “No.”AOT 82.4

    The people in the room kneeled around the bed. Mrs. White prayed.AOT 82.5

    Peace rested on James White’s face.AOT 82.6

    “Jesus loves you,” Ellen said to him after finishing the prayer. “The everlasting arms are beneath you.”AOT 82.7

    He murmured, “Yes, yes.”AOT 82.8

    His desire to slide into unconsciousness became stronger, and Dr. Kellogg tried more stimulants to keep him awake. His pulse became rapid, irregular, and weak. He had trouble breathing. Barely conscious, James remained in the same state until three o’clock in the morning, when he began to improve slightly. By six o’clock his pulse rate had dropped to normal, and he breathed easier. Uriah Smith, one of the editors of the Review and Herald, had led friends and church leaders in praying for James White during most of the night.AOT 82.9

    The dying man said he felt no pain. About noon of Sabbath, August 6, a seizure of chills caused him to drop into a coma. Torn by conflicting emotions, Mrs. White watched and waited. She and Dr. Kellogg knew that if by some chance James did live, his mind would be weakened from the brain damage he had suffered. Yet she naturally wanted him to live, to give her the strength she had come to depend upon. Using more stimulants and anything else they could think of, Kellogg and his assistants tried to awaken James White. They failed.AOT 82.10

    Just after five o’clock in the afternoon, August 6, 1881, James White stopped breathing.AOT 83.1

    Exhausted from illness, strain, and grief, Mrs. White collapsed into unconsciousness. The doctor and his staff carried her to her room and began another vigil. It seemed that she also would die. During the night her pulse slowed and grew weak, and her breathing became so faint that at times those taking care of her thought it had stopped. As the days passed, however, she slowly regained her strength.AOT 83.2

    To allow time for friends and relatives to come to Battle Creek, the family waited until the following Sabbath to hold James White’s funeral. Ice protected his body until that time. Mrs. White remained in bed until just before the funeral service. Then she was carried to the Battle Creek Tabernacle, where an estimated twenty-five hundred persons attended the service, crowding the main auditorium and the gallery. The deacons raised the sliding partitions and allowed people to fill the vestries surrounding the main auditorium. Among the relatives present were John Whitney White, James’s brother and former presiding elder of the Ohio Conference of Methodists, John’s son-in-law, and James’s sister, Mrs. Mary Chase.AOT 83.3

    A portrait of James White, draped in black, hung over the arch above the pulpit. Over one hundred employees of the Review and Herald Publishing Association were among the mourners. The Review employees wore black arm bands or other symbols of their sorrow. Eighty-eight of them would later march beside the ninety-five carriages in the funeral procession as it made its way to Oak Hill Cemetery.AOT 83.4

    Uriah Smith presented the funeral sermon. To everybody’s surprise, Mrs. White immediately arose after he finished and began to speak. In a clear voice she talked for ten minutes about her faith in God and how it helped her now during her time of great sorrow and loss. She pledged that despite the loss of her husband, she would continue the mission God had given her. At the close of the services the people filed out of the church and prepared for the sad trip to the cemetery.AOT 84.1

    An arbor of evergreens covered the short walk from the carriage pathway to the open grave, around which people crowded, many struggling to peer over the shoulders of others to see the flowers. A floral anchor stood at the head of the grave. A cross made of flowers decorated the other end. The scent of blossoms was strong in the August heat. The pallbearers lowered the casket, and soil clattered against its top. James White now rested until Christ’s second coming, his work finished.AOT 84.2

    His death marked a halfway point in Mrs. White’s life. Married August 30, 1846, they had lived together thirty-five years. She became a widow August 6, 1881. Nearly thirty-four years later, on July 16, 1915, Ellen G. White died. But she did her greatest service for the Seventh-day Adventist Church after 1881. She did not let sorrow stop her at the halfway mark, but pushed on to even greater things for God.AOT 84.3

    Larger font
    Smaller font