Work for a Teenager – Children’s Corner
“ELLEN! ELLEN! Are you ill?” There was no answer.
“Has she fainted? Or is she…” Anxiously four women bent over the prostrate form of a seventeen-year-old girl.
“She’s not breathing!”
“I can feel her pulse beating.”
“There are signs of life. Her eyes are open, but she doesn’t seem to see us.”
The four women waited and wondered, but they had no cause for alarm. Ellen was completely under God’s control at the moment she neither saw them nor heard what they were saying. She was listening to an angel speaking to her, and she was looking at a scene passing like a motion picture before her eyes. She was in heavenly vision.
Ellen Harmon had been visiting the home of a friend, where she and four other women were praying together. Nearly two months earlier people of many faiths, who were called Adventists because of their belief in the second coming, had been disappointed that Jesus failed to return to the earth on the day set by them. Many little groups, like this one, had been studying their Bibles together and praying that God would show them where they had made their mistake in interpreting the prophecies
The Saviour was looking down in love upon these brokenhearted people who had been so sure He was coming on that day in October, 1844, to take them to heaven. Now He had sent His angel to assure them through that vision that He really was coming to get them, but not just yet. They must patiently wait a while longer.
What was the scene that Ellen had seen? In her vision as she described it afterward, she seemed to be rising higher and higher. She turned to look for her Adventist friends but could not see them. An angel said to her, “Look again, and look a little higher.” She did so and saw the Adventist people moving along a narrow path high above the world towards the Holy City at the end of the path. Jesus led them and those who kept their eyes on Him were safe. A bright light at the beginning of the path shone all along the way to keep their feet from stumbling. The angel who had come to show these things to Ellen said this was the “midnight cry.”
The “midnight cry” was a much-used word during the late summer of 1844. It came from Christ’s parable of the ten virgins in which a cry was heard at midnight. “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” The virgins represent Christ’s waiting church, and the cry at midnight was the announcement that Jesus was coming. It was a call to get ready to meet Him. So in those days when people spoke of the midnight cry, they were referring to the great awakening, when hundreds of ministers in many parts of the world were telling people that Jesus would come in the autumn of 1844.
In her vision Ellen saw some of the travelers on the path grow weary. They said that the city was too far away and that they had expected to enter it sooner. Then Jesus raised His right arm, and a light spread over the band of pilgrims.
Some rejected the light, saying it was not God who had led them out so far. For them the light went out, leaving their feet in darkness, and they stumbled, lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path. But many of the travelers continued along the heavenly path. On their foreheads was written “God” and “New Jerusalem.”
They heard the voice of God announce the day and the hour Jesus would return, and saw a small black cloud in the sky. Silently they watched as the cloud came nearer and nearer the earth, becoming brighter and more glorious until it shone like fire. Around it were thousands of angels, and over it a rainbow. The angels were singing the most beautiful music ever heard.
And there sitting on the cloud was Jesus with many crowns upon His head. In His right hand He held a sharp sickle, and in His left a silver trumpet. As the waiting people looked at the glorious scene, their faces turned pale. It seemed that His eyes, like a flame of fire, searched them through and through. In fear they cried out, “Who shall be able to stand?” Is my robe spotless?”
The angels stopped singing, and a time of silence followed. Then Jesus spoke: “Those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall be able to stand; My grace is sufficient for you.” At these words the faces of the waiting people lighted up. The angels sang again, while the cloud drew nearer the earth.
When the vision was over, Ellen told her friends what she had seen, and they were thrilled. She was happy, for she thought she had done her whole duty. But, about a week later the angel who has spoken to her in the vision appeared a second time, saying she must tell others what she had seen.
The band of Adventists at Portland often met at her home for prayer and Bible study. The leader of the group asked Ellen to relate the vision at their next meeting, but she was afraid they would not believe what she had to tell them. Instead of going to the meeting, she got into a sleigh and rode four miles to the home of a friend.
There, alone in an upstairs room, she spent the entire day praying that God would excuse her from telling the vision. But she was unhappy, for she knew that Jesus was not pleased with her. Even while she prayed, she felt alone and afraid, almost forsaken of God. At last, near night she surrendered and promised she would deliver the message.
By the time she arrived at the prayer meeting, the people had left. But the next time they met, Ellen told them the whole vision, and she was greatly surprised when everyone present gladly listened. They were happy, for now they were sure that Jesus was still leading them and that the midnight cry was a bright light which would shine all along their way to heaven. And they began to see their mistake in thinking that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant that Jesus would return to this earth at that time.
One day Ellen’s father asked, “Why do you look so downcast? What is the trouble?”
Without lifting her eyes, she answered, “You know father, that God has asked me to tell others what He has shown me. Why should He choose one as weak as I am to do this great work? How can I leave home and travel from place to place? If you could only go with me! But I know you can’t leave your work.”
Mr. Harmon was a poor man and supported the family by making hats.
“Sara can go with you,” he answered encouragingly. Sarah was an older sister.
“How can two girls travel from town to town?” Ellen asked. “Who would pay our way? Who would arrange the meetings for us? And if the people came together, how could I make them hear? They would only laugh at me.” The difficulties seemed very great.
When Ellen was only nine years old, she had been badly hurt in an accident. Her head was injured and her nose was broken, making breathing very difficult. For three weeks she lay unconscious, and for many years afterward she suffered from the effects of that accident. Her lungs were so weak that it hurt her to breathe. Often she had to be propped up with pillows at night in order to get her breath. Her heart, too, was weak. The family physician said that she might live three months, probably not that long.
As Ellen spoke of the difficulties she was facing, her father drew her to him and said tenderly, “Ellen, if God has called you to do a work for Him, He will make you strong enough to do it, and He will open a way for you to begin. We will pray for you in our meeting tonight.”
God sent a special blessing as they prayed for Ellen. She was given fresh courage so that she felt willing to go anywhere and do anything if only she could have the smile of Jesus.
A day or two after this Ellen’s brother-in-law from a little town fifty kilometers to the north drove up in a sleigh. “Will you come back with me, Ellen? He asked. “Mary wants you to visit her.”
Ellen felt that God was opening the way for her to give His message and that she must go. It was midwinter in northern New England. Every breath of the icy air pained her lungs. But she dressed warmly, and sitting on the floor of the sleigh, she pulled a heavy buffalo robe over her head.
When they arrived, her sister said, “I’m glad you came; there’s to be a meeting tonight at MacGuire’s Hill. Will you go with us?”
At this time Adventists had no churches of their own. When Ellen reached the meeting place, she found a large room filled with people eager to hear her describe the vision. But when she stood up to speak, her voice was too weak and hoarse that she could scarcely be heard. For five minutes she tried, while her listeners leaned forward to catch her whispered words.
Then suddenly, to the surprise of all, her voice changed. It rang out clear as a bell. She spoke for two hours, describing the travels of God’s people to the Holy City, the coming of Jesus, and their heavenly home. Many tears were shed, but they were tears of joy. Every heart was cheered. When Ellen sat down and tried to talk with those near her, her voice was as hoarse as before, and she could only whisper.
Some people have wondered why God chose one so weak to bring His messages to His people. There was a reason. When the company of Adventists saw Ellen stand up and try in her weakness to make them hear, and then when the power of God came upon her, enabling her to speak clearly, they knew she was not doing it alone – God was helping her.
That night as the company broke up, there were shouts of joy: “We are going home! We are going home!” Some who watched Ellen’s friends support her as she went back to the sleigh were thinking of the Apostle Paul’s words. “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mightyÉ that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
During the meeting a young man named Hazen Foss stood listening outside the door. Turning to a friend, he said, “That vision is very much like the one God gave me.” His friends knew his sad story. Twice he had been given the vision, and twice he refused to tell it. Then God told him that he was excused from the work, and that it would be given to one of the weakest of God’s children.
This frightened him. He called the people together, but when he began to speak, he could not remember a word. “God has taken the vision from me,” he cried. “I’m a lost man!” And he rushed from the place.
The day after he heard Ellen speak, he called to see her at her sister’s home. “I want to talk with you,” he said. “The Lord gave me a message for His people, and I refused to give it to them. Last night I heard you speak. Don’t refuse to obey God. Be faithful in doing the work He gives you; and the crown I might have had you will receive.” He had learned too late that it is a fearful thing to say NO to God.
At one time the Lord gave Ellen an urgent message for the believers in Portsmouth. The journey required a train trip, but there was no money for tickets. Nevertheless Sarah and Ellen prepared to go, trusting the Lord to open the way.
They dressed for the journey and were about to leave the house to walk the short distance to the station when Ellen looked out the window and saw a man who she knew driving very fast up to the gate. His horse was covered with sweat. He rushed into the house and asked, “Does anyone here need money? I was impressed that someone here needs money.”
The girls quickly told him they were going to Portsmouth at God’s bidding, but had no money for tickets. He handed them money for the round trip.
“Take a seat in my wagon, and I’ll drive you to the station,” he said
On their way to the station he told them that the horse had wanted to come the twelve miles from home so fast that it has been difficult to keep him from galloping all the way. Ellen and Saran had no sooner taken their seats in the train than it started. They were on their way.
Ellen Harmon had launched on her lifework. Never did she hesitate when God sent her on His errands. In spite of seeming impossibilities at times, she knew God would provide the way.