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Just Mary | Effie M. Williams

Born Again

Roy Harmon’s wife was a very pious woman, giving more heed to her religious duties than to anything else, for she made God first in her life. When Roy came to the city, he boarded with Ethel’s mother and was attracted to her because of her godly character. Roy had not been as devoted to his God as he should have been, and he soon saw his shortcomings in this respect. After he renewed his covenant with his Lord, his interests became the same as Ethel’s and soon a warm friendship sprang up between them which terminated in marriage. Before marriage, Roy unburdened his heart to her concerning his sister’s children. It was mutually agreed upon that when they had a home of their own they would take these two children to it and do their best to educate them. Now these plans were being carried out. Roy had a good position with good wages, and as soon as they were married he took his bride to a home he had furnished for her. Each knew how to economize. In a few months they began to see their way clear to pay off the indebtedness on their little place; so they began to consider Roy’s long cherished plans to do something for his only sister’s children.

Mary and Otis were in their uncle’s home now, and it seemed as if they were in another world. Everything was strange to them. There was no soft grass on which to tread, but instead the hard pavements along the street. There was no gazing away over a wide expanse of country fields and lanes, for their new home was surrounded with other buildings and other homes.

The home seemed strange to them also, for it differed much from their former one. In this home God was reverenced in every way. At each meal grace was offered before eating. Morning and evening the Bible was opened and a chapter was read. Then, kneeling before God, Uncle Roy or Aunt Ethel would offer thanks unto him and invoke his care and blessings. The children went with their aunt and uncle regularly to Sunday school and church services. Surrounded by such environment, an impression was soon made upon them and a change wrought in them. Aunt Ethel never tired of trying to instruct them for she saw material there that could be polished and made to shine for good. The task was a difficult one, but the real missionary spirit within her gave her patience to wait and overlook many things so that she might help the poor, neglected children that meant so much to her husband.

One evening after attending services Mary returned to her Uncle’s home. All could see she was very much troubled about something as truly she was, for she had listened attentively to the message delivered that evening. The minister’s subject was “The New Birth.” He not only laid down the principles of the new birth, but the essentials as well, stating that one could not hope to see God or see those whom God had called away from this world unless he had been a recipient of God’s Spirit, been made a child of God, made a new creature in Christ, been born again.

As he mentioned the necessity of being born again that we may meet those whom God has called away from us, the face of little baby Margaret came before Mary. She saw her again as she had seen her so many times, smiling up into her face, and she remembered the words of the minister spoken at the time of the funeral, “You cannot bring her back, but you can go to her.” She also remembered the decision made that some day she would go to her. She remembered the deepening of that decision when Grandma Harmon was taken away from them. Mary was very quiet as they walked home from services and after reaching home. She listened very attentively as Uncle Roy read again from God’s Word. As they knelt for prayer something stole over her as Aunt Ethel began to pray. Bursting into tears, she cried out, “Oh, I want to be born again, but what must I do?”

It was not an easy matter to instruct the penitent child. Ethel did her best. Roy agreed in prayer with her. They tarried until past the midnight hour, praying to God to enlighten the child and inspire faith within her soul. In the early hours of the morning, light broke through the darkness and Mary knew that she had been born again. She rejoiced that she now had the assurance of meeting baby Margaret and Grandma Harmon.

A new task now opened for Aunt Ethel. She had to instruct Mary in the things of the Lord, and that in an understandable way. Mary was eager to learn and asked many questions. In this way her aunt got much truth to her. To Mary this new experience was unexplainable, for again it seemed that she had been transported to a new world. She tried to do everything that she thought might be required of her to do, and took her place in the home with the family in their daily worship. Sometimes she would only read some Scripture and then again her voice would be lifted in prayer. She really hungered for more and more of the Lord’s richness in her heart. In this her aunt was untiring in trying to teach her.

Mary had been enjoying this new experience for a few weeks when she came to her aunt and said, “Aunt Ethel, I am very much bothered about something. I do not know just what to do about it. You know I read this morning from the Bible, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,’* (Luke 6:27-28) and I have never thought to pray for Mother yet and I know she used me spitefully. I would like for you to tell me just what you think should be done.” Mary then told many things that had taken place in the Dennison home, even to the time of the combat between herself and her step-mother. Then Ethel had a good chance to get another lesson to Mary. At the close of that conversation, a letter was written to Myra Dennison bearing Mary’s signature, telling of the change that had come into her life and asking her forgiveness for what had been done. In closing the letter, Mary wrote, “Mother, I want you always to remember that I love you and I am doing just what the Bible says for me to do. Each day I am praying for you.”

If Mary could have seen her step-mother when she received this letter, she would have been convinced that she was not altogether bad. She buried her face in her apron and, seating herself in a rocking chair, wept like a child. Mary was taking the best route to open Myra’s eyes to her own need. It was some weeks before Mary received a reply to her letter, and then came one with all the endearing words a mother could send to her own child. This made Mary rejoice and made her to appreciate the Lord more than ever.

Mary consecrated her life to God, and the Holy Spirit so controlled her life that hers was one of constant victory. She needed this power to help her through the many difficulties which confronted her in her life at school. But whatever came before her, she could always see the goodness of God, and her sweet, Christian character made her a favorite with all who knew her.