By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
And now may we give a little glimpse of the author in his more mature days as viewed from the standpoint of a wife.
While some men are of a passive makeup, my husband is the opposite and he naturally would be given to being vindictive. A remarkable saint often prays for him thus: "Lord bless him and keep him tender for he seems to be raised up to preach a hard (a searching) gospel." "If there is anything in a name, the one in question seems to imply that he is a man of war, for he has more than once been introduced as "Sledge-hammer," "Pile-driver," and, "The man who Shells the woods and Hammers the devil."
One of this makeup is apt to arouse the opposition of compromisers and politicians and this has sometimes been the case in husband's thirty-five years evangelism.
In view of his disposition, anyone can readily see that it would require much grace to take all he has taken and bear it patiently. But the Lord has certainly given him grace to refrain from retaliation when it was in his power to show it.
More than twenty years ago, while in Atlanta, Georgia, when all kinds of shot and shell were being fired into him from city officials, popular preachers, tame holiness evangelists and editors of religious journals, the Lord spoke to him as follows: "Keep sweet, do not retaliate by pen or press and you will live to preach this rugged gospel long after your opposers are dead."
As husband was editing a paper, he had ample opportunity to vindicate himself, but God kept him from saying one unkind word about his critics.
With sadness and pity we say that he has lived to see that day. Some of them have met violent deaths, others have lost their minds, a number have fallen into disgrace and are heard of no more. Still others who did not take a pronounced stand for radical holiness have retrograded and are now looking for jobs, while the one they once ostracized is overcrowded with calls.
Husband often says, "It does not pay to fight our own battles, for if we do, God will step aside and give us the job and we will have a hard job of it. But, if we refuse to do it, He will fight them better than we can."
During those stormy days, God led him into making many secret covenants, one of which was that he should never answer an unkind letter inside of ten, (and if possible, thirty) days. This has saved him many a postage stamp, many a half-hour thinking up some sarcastic reply, the good will of many a person who, later on, retracted and wrote, apologizing for his hasty letter. It certainly pays in money, grace and friendship to let time and Providence right things.
When husband was but a boy preacher he was glad for recognition from anything or anybody for he needed it, but after these years of God's blessing and approval he has acquired sufficient influence and prestige that he has outgrown the barkings of opposers and, like John Wesley, can choose from a large company, his most intimate and trustworthy friends.
But, "right at this point," I have heard him say, is the most dangerous place in most men's lives.
In his sermon on Uzziah, he states that "as long" as this king sought the Lord, God made him to prosper and his fame was "spread far abroad." It was then that "his heart was lifted up to his own destruction." Yes, it is the same today. When men climb to a plane of prominence and usefulness, sad to say, many times they lose their child like simplicity, become important, then tumble and go into oblivion. As a rule, men backslide in heart and prepare the way for their own undoing long before it comes out on them. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."