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Spiritual Beginnings

Category Articles
Date June 9, 2006

By Mrs. Mercy Sturgess of Barton-le-Clay recorded in 1983 at the age of 87.

The Lord help me, if His will, to write a few things for His honour. It has been on my mind for some time that I should write a little of my beginnings, as I hope, of a work of grace in my heart. As I have written of some of my later experience there must be a right beginning, which was very gentle, very small.

I can look back to when I was eight or nine years old. I felt there was a God, an elect people, a heaven and a hell. I had checks of conscience and could not do as I would or go where I would.

I lost my dear, godly mother when I was fifteen years old. Though she brought us children up very strictly, I loved her. The night before she died, she was telling us a few things of what the Lord had done for her. My eldest sister said to her, “You have been a good mother.” She answered, “No thanks to me.” O what a spirit she had, a right one. My heart went up to the Lord that I might have a double portion of that right spirit. I felt it a hard thing to lose a mother when so young and that I should never be able to say, I would not have one thing altered, as I had read of some. But I could, in after years, when I hope Christ was revealed to me as my God.

Well, I went on with many fears that I was wrong; did it begin right? If I had gone out into the world and been brought back it would have been more clear. When young I used to like to read the Little Gleaner. I read, I think it was there, about the servant girl. The minister told her to pray, “Show me myself,” and, “Show me Thyself,” which I felt I did. Later on I lost a sister; she died in hospital. She was very distressed and said she was a lost sinner. But the Lord appeared and she wanted to say goodbye to us all. As I was coming away from hospital, I walked with her mother-in-law. She said to me, “You must feel lost before you are found.” I felt I had not felt that, but afterwards I did. How the Word of God condemned me wherever I looked: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”! Broken all the ten commandments, a destitute sinner, leprous all over; much more could be said. I felt the Lord put His hand again the second time to the work. Before it was only men as trees walking (Mark 8. 24). I felt I had no hope until Jesus revealed Himself as my only hope. I was a little helped to come to Him and confess myself as a hell-deserving sinner. He was the only way, and I was then helped to believe in Him in a little measure by hearing preaching from John: “Herein is love,” etc. Then in Romans 6. 14: “Sin shall not have dominion over you,” etc. Then Isaiah 27. 13: “They shall come which were ready to perish.” I then felt a good hope; Christ was precious. How I loved Him! He was mine. How good were Isaiah 40. 1, 2 and also Romans 8: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them,” etc., and “no separation.” My burden was gone.

Then came on the exercise of the ordinances of God’s house for about twelve months. I felt it a very solemn step, many ups and downs. Did He die for me? Should I be kept in it . . . too young? But it became a very heavy exercise which I could not put off until I felt I had to speak. I felt I was walking in darkness by keeping back. So I was enabled to speak to my brother who was the deacon then, a time not to be forgotten. Next morning these lines came to me with feeling:

“He wept, He bled, He died for you;
What more, ye saints, could Jesus do?”
I said, “No more, Lord.” Hymn 441.

The next Sabbath I felt very comfortable. The preaching came much my way. The next week I felt very blest and felt my name was in the book of life; Christ was mine and I was His. I had prayed for the last verse of hymn 471 to be fulfilled in me,
“Let me attest Thy power;
Let me Thy goodness prove,
Till my full soul can hold no more
Of everlasting love,”
which I felt He answered. I cannot speak of it as I would; it seemed too great for such as me. I felt to be “a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”

Later, when I was baptized, my brother said, “What is to be the first hymn?” I said, “One to praise the Three-One God in saving sinners.” He gave out hymn 405. When it came to that verse, “That worms of earth should ever be One with incarnate Deity!” I could not seem to sink low enough. I had felt I could not sit down at the Lord’s supper without feeling He was mine; it is so solemn. It was the Lord’s day. I was received into the church in the afternoon; I did not feel so much as I would. The next day I did not feel His presence. How I mourned His absence! I felt I could not live without Him. I said, “And to Thy glory take me in, for there I long to be.”

As time went on, portions of Scripture were good to me. I remember once looking up to the Lord and asking Him to give me a word I did not know was in the Bible, which I should then feel was from Him. The word was: “They shall walk with Me in white,” then the words in Daniel, “For thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Thus I went on, very tried at times, and exercised also to do the right things in providence. And also as a church and people, in sending my brother out to preach and then having him as pastor. I felt it to be a right thing, and it proved to be food to my soul, if sometimes reproved. Thus I went on feeling my sinfulness and poverty.

I feel I must leave off as I have written of some of my later experience. This I feel to be written very poorly but hope it is real. May it be able to be read. I never thought I should be able to write this at 87 years old in September 1983. Sorry my spelling may not be good. ‘Tis all of free grace, so all the glory Lord be Thine.

Mercy Sturgess (I still have to mourn an absent God and have to prove no man can keep alive his own soul. I wonder how it will be at my end.)

Taken with permission from the Gospel Standard June 2006

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