While the material for this book was in the process of making, my precious wife and companion, who had stood by me so faithfully and aided me so nobly for the past eighteen months, slipped away to be with Jesus. This is the greatest sorrow of my life, for she was indeed a "Help meet," possessing an unusually sweet and affectionate disposition.
There are many things in life that are hard to be understood, and most of them we can pass by comparatively easy, but when the silver cord of so noble and useful a life is suddenly and unexpectedly broken, who can explain?
Evangeline, as most everyone knew her, was the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. E. E. Shelhamer, nationally-known evangelists and authors of many books. Her home-going came as a shock, for she had not been sick long, and no one had any anticipation of her death. She had been a very studious girl all of her life, having finished college, and spent several years in vocal and piano work, as well as having taken intensive work in the Theory of music.
Few individuals possess the unique combination of talents and abilities that were bound up in her life. Perhaps it would not be unfair to her memory to mention a few:
All those who knew Evangeline will agree that she possessed no small amount of grace. Not only was she attractive physically, but she possessed a lovely and affable disposition. Her whole life abounded with magnanimity. She always showed herself too big and gracious to stoop to do little, mean, or contemptible things.
I must confess that more than once did she stir me up to be a greater blessing. Occasionally when some one would call at my office, and my mind was loaded with the press of other duties, I failed to give my visitor the careful and thoughtful attention I should; afterward when we were alone she would ask if I thought I had been as attentive as I should have been. With a sweet voice and tender expression she would say, "Dear, do you not think you could have made him feel more welcome if you had looked up with a smile and given him your entire attention?" She could well give this advice, as friendliness was the constant outflow of her life every day.
She possessed the rare ability of believing in every body. Never was she suspicious, but everyone who approached her was met with a perfectly open countenance, as the kind expression of her large blue eyes would welcome the comer, showing herself ready to help. What comfort, what consolation to live with some one in whom you have the utmost confidence. Oh, the hearts that have been broken, and the homes wrecked, by suspicion. She trusted in everybody and spoke evil of no one.
Evangeline was peculiarly gifted as a soul-winner. As we labored together in camp meetings and revivals, and among the college students, she showed herself as one who possessed the gift of winning lost souls to God. Many times when a close, searching message had failed to reach some one, she would make her way to him with tears, and her tender, irresistible approach usually led the otherwise impenetrable soul to Jesus. She carried a great burden for the lost at home and abroad. It was her custom to rise early in the morning, long before others were up, and spend an hour alone with God and her Bible. She said that her early morning anointings always made the day go better. She was always full of zeal for God's cause and glory, and had clear-cut convictions, for which she stood firmly but sweetly. There was not a grain of compromise in her entire being. Over and over she commanded my deepest and utmost admiration.
Little did I realize as I prayed and labored with her that God was maturing and ripening a saint for Heaven. She possessed a richness of maturity that is seldom found in saints two or three times her age. Her gifts cannot be explained as belonging alone to the human. They were God-given abilities.
While her departure to be with Jesus has made Heaven richer and sweeter, yet her loss to her friends and loved ones, and especially to me, will he keenly felt until Jesus comes and we are again united.
The anguish of soul, following her being cut down like a rose in full bloom, is great, but there shall always remain with me a sense of sweetness as the result of having possessed this Jewel.