A few jottings by Mrs. Mercy Sturgess of Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire, written in November and December 1969
Just a little of the blessing one has hoped she had from the Lord in the year 1969, from July to September. Well, it was at the end of June when I feel I had such a sight of one’s sinful self, what I was by nature. I felt in a dreadful state. How it made me cry for mercy and I believe supplicate for the forgiveness of my sins! Though I had had it before in time past, that was lost sight of.
How I did try to plead with the Lord that day, before going to chapel on the Thursday evening, that the Lord would speak to me that night through His servant, our pastor! His text was in Acts 13. 38, 39, on forgiveness. It was a wonderful sermon to me, as he spoke all how I had felt, what a sinner, put in words. He then spoke of forgiveness and justification; felt much helped. I would humbly say I felt I had prayed it out of him, as enabled.
Then when I got to bed at night, I lay about two hours and the dear Lord came with such power; His felt presence, one cannot explain such love. How promises flowed in, the Father kissing the prodigal, saying, Put a ring on his finger, and the best robe, etc. How I said with a feeling heart, “My God, my Father, may I call Thee mine?” How I wept! Then of Joshua, “Take away the filthy garments from him. And . . .I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” “Let not your heart be troubled . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” How I wept tears of humility, so unworthy, why me? But felt,
“I’m blest, I’m blest, for ever blest,
My rags are gone, and I am dressed
In garments white as snow.”
“He wept, He bled, He died for you.”
The next day after this, I had not much mind for the things here. On Saturday I felt, could it really be for such as I? Was it real? But I did try to pray it might be confirmed on the Sabbath, and it was. “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1. 30). I felt it.
On the following fortnight Thursday evening, text, 1 Samuel 2. 6-8. How good it was to me, what I had felt! I had Hannah’s song and had been raised up.
The next Sunday Mr. Case was preaching and his text was Jabez’ prayer. When he spoke of the “indeed blessing,” what I was listening for, felt I had it, after many prayers and longings for it.
Then the next Sabbath pastor’s text was Psalm 119. 174-176. I felt I lived.
The next Sunday was Ephesians 2. 19, 20. Felt comfortable but not so much feeling.
Then the next Sunday, August 3rd, was a special time. Text was Ephesians 1. 5-7. How I felt I was “accepted in the Beloved.” When I came home at night. I said to my pastor, “Living tongues are dumb at best, we must die to speak of Christ.” Words failed me. Then to my surprise and amazement he took Ephesians 1. 3, 4.
The next Sunday, August 10th, before the sermon his reading was Numbers 23, of Balaam. I said, “Is Thy servant going to tell me I am deceived inwardly?” I said, “O Lord, undeceive me if I am.” But O what a powerful sermon it was to me, all “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”! I knew not how to contain myself and to hide it from others. Tears ran down my face. “Full with the blessing of the Lord.” We closed with hymn 60.
When I came to walk home I hardly knew how to as it had taken my bodily strength. When home, I felt “my willing soul would stay, in such a frame as this, and sit and sing herself away to everlasting bliss.” Those lines came to me afterwards: “I faint beneath the bliss.” In the evening it was as good to me. Could not help speaking of it to pastor and others. We closed with hymn 680, which fitted. Felt a little like I had read of Joseph Tanner, he feared to live rather than die. How I feared myself to live and sin against so good a God! I felt to need prayer more, that I might be kept from pride and self-righteousness. I would be holy but knew I could not keep myself, I was so afraid of doing anything to cause Him to depart. But the blessing just came down. I could not but believe.
The next Thursday and Lord’s day the text was Ephesians 3. 16-20. It was a good time. What a depth there is in it all! I could say, “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” It was wonderful how the Lord led His servant into Ephesians as He did. It seemed for me. He would repeat just what I had felt or was feeling. Once I said to myself, “Lord, let him repeat about Joshua,” and he did. No thanks to me, but I hope the Spirit’s work.
The next text was Psalm 132. 1 and 8, in the morning. How I could go with all His servant said! Also in the evening from verses 13 and 14. The next Thursday evening he took verses 15 and 16, for Zion our little cause.
The following Sabbath, August 31st, his text was Joel 2. 25-27. In the week I had been thinking of them and had read them from verses 21 to 27. They were good to me in my young days, before I was baptized, that I should never be ashamed. But I felt now it was being more fulfilled. I felt one morning and I looked up and said, “Lord, I should like to hear it preached from.” Then unexpectedly, that Sunday morning, he took them. How I felt what was said! The Lord had dealt wondrously with me, and that “I am the Lord your God,” that I should never be ashamed. I cannot explain myself as I would, or tell it all.
Monday, September 1st, Mr. Neville preached about Martha and the resurrection. “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life.” He spoke of Him coming to a poor sinner in that power, which I felt He had to me. We then closed with hymn 11, which I felt sweet.
That night I went away for twelve days’ change, which had been arranged before. How I did feel to need to be kept, not to depart from the dear Lord, which I hope I was in a little measure! I had not the same power felt but enjoyed reading Ruth and Solomon’s Song. Then I returned home on Saturday.
The Sunday morning before the service I pleaded with the Lord not to let the services be in vain, not in form only. Then the words came: “At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar…, and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed” (Ruth 2. 14). How humbled I felt, my spirit softened! I went to chapel with expectation. The text was Psalm 23. 1, 2. How good I felt it! The Lord my Shepherd; I had been made to lie down in green pastures and beside the still waters. I could go with all that was spoken; truly I was sufficed. We closed with hymn 1071, which softened my heart also. Blessed time! How I did say at these times, “Blessed Jesus, precious Jesus.”
For thirteen weeks I walked in peace and communion with the dear Lord. Good times I had before getting up in the morning, and often when I lay down at night alone. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?” I cannot praise Him as I would. It was like I felt going over again the days of my espousals when I was young. Not perhaps that ecstasy of joy but (how shall I put it?) that solid peace and rest in believing in an unchanging God. How I looked back at what I hope the Lord had done for me then, believed the promises!
But now I do not feel that power and feeling as I did. Though not quite left alone, I miss the presence of my Friend, but pray not to be left to unbelief, but to be kept near the dear Lord. Knowing what I am by nature if left in any measure, I would say as I felt it, “I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all, but Jesus Christ is my All and in all.” None need despair since I have mercy found.
I did feel I have heard ministers pray at chapel that it might be heaven begun below. But O to realise it! What an awe and hallowedness felt! All this was after much searchings of heart after the death of my dear husband, much sowing in tears, as it is nearly four years ago; felt the Lord appeared to him. I wanted that indeed blessing though I had some helps.
Once was after hearing comfortably at chapel. As I walked in home, those lines came to me, “In heaven my choicest treasure lies.” What I felt for half an hour I cannot speak of! As I found the hymn and read it down, how I felt each verse and the next hymn. I did not want to speak to anyone. I was alone and said, “What is this world to me? this world is not my home.”
After the death of my husband, the next Sunday after he was buried I did feel I wanted a taste below of what he was enjoying. But I had to wait eighteen months for this.
I feel I can say I did not lose really the sweetness of the blessing from June to September for twelve months. [This must have been added at a later date.]
Taken with permission from the Gospel Standard May 2006.
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