Evangeline very providentially came into my life at a time when I needed her most. All through my many years in struggling for an education I was unable to support a wife. It was all I could do, through prayer and hard work, to support myself.
After I finished my university work, a very settled and satisfied feeling came all over me, convincing me that I was now ready to seek a companion for life. As I followed very closely upon this Divine consciousness, the Lord brought this sweet girl into my affections. I knew and admired her for some time before I found my heartstrings strangely warmed and entwining themselves about her. I first admired her Christian character, and her gentle, sweet spirit. I seemed to me that if any girl possessed, and lived what she professed, it was Evangeline; for she was always the same. She constantly carried a sweet, gentle smile and was courteous to everyone.
Soon after my taking up the duties as President of Kingswood Holiness College, she came to Kentucky to finish her college work with us. Within a very few weeks, her pleasing personality and sweet disposition had won for her the admiration and highest esteem of her teachers and fellow-students. She had been on the campus but a short time when students began finding their way to her for spiritual help and counsel.
Shortly before the college year closed, we were engaged to be married. Having a very strenuous summer slated in camp meetings, it was impossible for us to see each other often, as she traveled with her father and mother. Our paths crossed but once all summer. The date was finally set, and most of our plans for the wedding developed and were worked out by mail. It was our good fortune, however, to be privileged to see each other during the Hopkins, Michigan, camp meeting, which closed on Sunday before we were married the following Wednesday. We shall not soon forget the kindness shown us by Doctor C. W. Butler and the saints in that camp.
As my sweetheart's home was in California, it was impossible for us to go there to be married; so on August 29, 1928, it was my God-given and happy privilege to marry Evangeline, the daughter of the well-known authors and world-famous evangelists, Rev. and Mrs. E. E. Shelhamer. Immediately following our wedding in Detroit, we left for Kingswood, Kentucky, where we were slated as evangelists in the camp; so to take up our duties at the college.
Although one would naturally expect that, in this new capacity at the college, Evangeline would experience many puzzling and bewildering moments, this was not the case; for she at once so ably assumed her responsibilities and so skillfully performed her duties that one would think she had had years of training for such a position. In fact, the Lord had been for years fitting her for this position. The trying tests and problems that are peculiar to those in authority were met by her with a sweet, deliberate, and composed state of mind and soul. She soon proved her infinite worth to me and to the institution, by showing that she was equal to every situation.
Evangeline's sunshiny disposition brought into our home the fragrance of Heaven. Never did I hear her complain nor grumble, but when adversity came she would quote her father, saying, "Everything is better than we deserve." She could rise above disappointments and reverses with more grace and ease than anyone I ever knew. She seemed to possess that saintly faculty that helped her to see God in every thing. When things looked dark, she could always see the bright side, and would again quote her father, whom she very tenderly loved, saying, "If we fight our own battles, God will let us; but if we leave them to Him, He will fight them for us."
Our married life was a constant honeymoon, for her darling, sweet, cheery spirit and loveliness radiated sunshine like a clear May morning. The sun never shone brighter, and the flowers never bloomed sweeter, than during our brief associations. Her affectionate and congenial life and lovely presence always shed a rich, incomparable fragrance through every room and crevice of our home.
She was also a splendid cook and an excellent housekeeper. It was the constant delight of her heart to keep everything around home as neat as a pin, while in her personal appearance she was as immaculate as a nurse. There was not a slothful fiber in her entire being; and as long as she had strength to go, she strove to keep her house always in order. She had a very keen appreciation for the beautiful, and sought to carry out her delicate tastes in everything.
She also possessed an unusually high sense of honor, and this constantly carried her gracefully above anything that seemed the least bit deceitful or dishonest. Her deep appreciation for any kindness or courtesy shown her caused her to shower forth gratitude in abundance. My words are so feeble! I really wish I were able to properly emulate her Christian graces and godly virtues; but the resurrection alone will reveal her true value to the Kingdom and cause of Christ.
Her Spiritual Life
No stream ever flowed steadier, and no timepiece was ever more dependable, than Evangeline in her spiritual life. She was never unsettled, but constantly steady in her prayer life and experience. No one ever saw a waver in her fidelity to God. Never was she moody, morose, or gloomy; but her shield of faith and confidence in God constantly shone brighter than Kimberley diamonds. She never had a blue Monday, but rather manifested the sweetest and saintliest disposition. Many times would she put me under conviction by her saintly life. Vacillation and fickleness were strangers to her; she enjoyed the stability of a Wesley, the solidity of a Finney, and the saintliness of a Fletcher.
Having traveled so many years in camp meetings and evangelistic work with her father and mother, and also being a college graduate, she was fully equipped and well qualified to meet and help the public. It was my delightful and fond privilege to labor with her in several camp meetings and revivals during our brief, but happy married life. Her smiling face and charming personality, unctionized and laden with the fragrance of Heaven, proved to be an irresistible force for God and Holiness. She was very capable in the work of the Lord, but especially was she used in singing the Gospel and helping young people. She was never harsh nor driving in her spirit, songs, nor messages, but superlatively kind and sympathetic. I would rather have her sing before I preached than any other singer I ever heard. She was a profound lover of the old songs, such as:
"And can it be that I should gain An interest in the Savior's blood?" and "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,"
and other songs of this type.
There were two other songs, however, of which she was especially fond, and which she sang often, in the closing months of her brief, but very godly career. These seemed to be prophetic of her early translation How strange that our "eyes were holden" and we did not see this fact as she sang and was so blessed!
Although this song is very simple in its phraseology, and the poetry is imperfect, she sang it with so much feeling that nearly everyone was melted to tears.
"This World Is Not My Home"
"This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through, My treasures and my hopes are all laid up on high, Where many friends and kindred have gone on before, And I can't feel at home in this world any more.
"O Lord, You know, I have no friend like You, If Heaven were not my home, O Lord, what would I do? Loved ones beckon me, from Heaven's welcome door, And I can't feel at home in this world any more.
"Over in Heaven's land, there is no dying there, The saints are shouting victory, singing everywhere; I hear the voice of those that I have known before, And I can't feel at home in this world any more.
"I won't have long to wait: my work is nearly done, I'm happy because my race is nearly run; I've long had my eyes on Heaven's open door, And I can't feel at home in this world any more.
"Heaven's expecting me, that's one thing I know, For I fixed it up with Jesus a long, long time ago; I know He'll take me through, altho' I'm weak and poor, And I can't feel at home in this world any more.
"If you get there first, I'll be there just the same, You'll hear me when I shout, 'Glory to His name We'll fly away with Jesus, our Savior to adore, And I can 't feel at home in this world any more."
This second song was her favorite and the last one she sang on earth in public. Those who listened that evening declared they never heard her sing more sweetly.
"The Wedding Robe"
"In the Lamb's bright hall, there's a feast for all, 'Tis the marriage of the King's dear Son; Come, ye weary one, come, ye laden one, Put on the Wedding Robe.
"The bells will be ringing, there'll be shouting, there'll be singing, When we come to the end of the road; Good-bye to all sighing, to sinning and to dying, When we put on the Wedding Robe.
"If you only believe, your soul shall receive, For redemption's work for you is done; Come, ye weary one, come, ye laden one, Put on the Wedding Robe.
"Now the feast is free, there's a call for thee, 'Tis a call from the King's dear Son; Come, ye weary one, come, ye laden one, Put on the Wedding Robe.
"All the sav'd will be there, come, their glory to share, For the race of life will soon be run; Come, ye weary one, come, ye laden one, Put on the Wedding Robe."
For many months my precious one had been in the crucible of suffering because of the unfaithfulness of a former lover. Although her heart had been deeply crushed and broken, and she had ample reason to say many things of a very derogatory nature, yet she was too gracious and magnanimous to say anything to me that would seriously reflect upon him. Never did she hold any bitterness or spirit of animosity, nor did she at any time attempt to draw out my sympathies, love, and affections by stooping to the cheap method of rehashing the faults of a former lover.
Instead of allowing her sufferings to make her sour and bitter, she made them stepping-stones toward Heaven; and they mellowed her spirit, sweetened her voice, and greatly enriched her entire being in God. As she arose above this heartbroken condition, she seemed more open to God, and her mind more accessible to the Holy Spirit. This enabled her to pour out her inner life, like a crystal stream, to help lift a crushed and broken world to God. She seemed to possess the superior dignity of a Frances Willard and the deep piety of a Hester Ann Rogers. Her high ideals and supernal saintliness made it like Heaven to be associated with her.
My entire horizon seemed so cheery and clear, and the outlook was so bright with the rich prospects of the future, then my sweetheart slipped away. I am sure I can never again be the same as I was before having enjoyed her saintly fellowship and association.
Ever since her departure, our home has possessed a strange, somber loneliness never before felt within its walls. The dear Lord only knows the loneliness of my heart, and only He can fill the vacancy in my life that has been caused by her departure.