(To J. T. W.)
This has been a slight edition of my previous illness, but it will be some weeks before I am really as strong as usual. That long illness in 1874 has so weakened me, besides seeming to have left a curious liability to fever, which has returned so many times. But I am not troubled about the “fallow,” and your words, “The Lord is right, you can trust Him I know,” have not done chiming yet! Just before this last attack I was in my sister’s conservatory watching the gardener cut off every bunch he could find upon a splendid vine. He has been training it for twelve years, never let it bear even one bunch of fruit for two years, and now it is 200 feet long in the main stem alone, and 400 feet with the principal branches. He has pruned off a thousand bunches this spring. “And what do you expect it to bear by-and-by?” “Four hundredweight of grapes! and, please God I live to manage it, it will be the finest vine in the country.” He was having long patience for fourteen years with this choice vine, and I suppose my Husbandman’s waiting with me won’t be as many months, so that is not a very long trial of trust. “My faithful Saviour!” That seemed my one thought while awake last night. I was delighted one day on noticing. . .Jude 24. . .”without stumbling,” let alone without falling!
No, I am not “basking in the sunshine;” it is not bright and vivid. I seem too tired somehow, for brightness; but it is not dark either. I know he is faithful and I am learning and resting. I think I miss outward helps and privileges, and having no direct work for Christ; I know this is all right too, so I am not fidgeting about it. I was able before this attack to go twice to church, a short afternoon service; but the preacher’s chief lesson, from Luke xxiv., was that Jesus couldn’t be always with us, and that we must expect Him to speedily vanish out of our sight whenever we did get one of the rare glimpses of His presence! So it wasn’t very enlivening, but I was glad indeed that I knew better! Oh, I am so glad that “alway” (Matt. xxviii. 20) means always, and that “never” (Heb. xiii. 5) means not ever and not “only sometimes,” which is really about as much as I used practically to take the words for! But the “alway” and the “never” are always now for us, and I believe them now just as they stand. And so, whether the day is dull or bright, and whether my eyes are heavy or clear, I know Jesus is with me. What a difference it does make, doesn’t it?
Frances Ridley Havergal from MEMORIALS