I had to ask my way. But a long way out toward Trolla I found the house. Mother ushered me into the sick-room. There her oldest daughter was lying at the point of death.
She was not yet twenty, when stricken with this lingering illness. Her young brother, who had gone to America had sent her 300 crowns. She should pay the doctor and go to a sanatorium. ''For Johanna must get well again," he wrote.
And Johanna sought doctor's help and went to the sanatorium. First to Reknes near Molde. She did not improve. She came home again. Then to Roros. In the fresh mountain-air there was more hope of improvement. But the hopes broke down.
There was only one thing left: Go home and die.
Now she lay in father's and mother's house. The doctor had said she did not have long time left-and this could be easily seen.
"You no doubt, think it is hard to be torn away from life in your fairest years?'' I asked.
"Yes, I did think it was terrible. Could God really be merciful? But I have gotten over this now."
"How are you now?"
"I am not ready to die; I am not saved."
"But, what will you do to be ready?''
"Oh I have tried to do something, but I cannot make it -- I can do nothing. I am helpless -- I am lost."
"You have struggled and have it hard?"
"Yes I am wretched and miserable.''
"It's a good thing you are honest. Thank you for saying it the way it is.''
"Yes it does not help to pretend anything now. It is serious to face death.''
"But listen to me. There is One who has something to tell such as you. We read in Matt. 11:28: 'Come unto me all ye, who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'
"And yet another word I want you to hear, John 6:37: 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'
"'Him that cometh'. There is no condition set down, no regulation how you shall be, in order to come. You are laboring and are heavy laden, but now Jesus says to such as you: 'Come unto me--I will in no wise cast you out.' You are invited to come just the way you are, now."
"May I come just as I lie here?"
"But I have no sorrow for sin, no repentance. Don't I have to have that, then?''
'Here it reads only, that you shall come. Step out on His Word. Rest in it. It is the mouth of Truth that has spoken it."
"How are you today?"
"It is not right with me. If it was right, I should feel happy and have rest, but I have not got it."
"But it was 'right' with Jesus. He did all things right-even for you. It was your guilt He took upon Himself; your death He suffered. When you receive this and believe it, you will rejoice and your tired heart will find rest.
"You are turning the order of salvation upside down. You will first experience joy and peace and rest-and then you will believe. It's this that is wrong with you. You will have to be saved as cold and hard and miserable as you are-as unprepared as you are, even though your heart is protesting. You cannot be saved because of your feelings. It is through the finished work of Jesus-''
"'But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not! I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine.'"
"It is enough what Jesus has done. I see it now, I am saved. For Jesus has prepared it all. Oh, how good it is! Thanks because you came and told me this. I cannot praise God enough for His mercy toward me."
"Are you satisfied to die now then?''
"Yes, yes! I wish I would not have to lie here so long. I am longing to see my Redeemer. It is enough what He has done for me. His word is sure."
It was Is.43:1: "Fear not! For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine." This word became the key-word for Johanna. It unlocked the door for her into the secret of faith. It also became the most helpful word in the trials of her faith. When doubt set in, she would read it; over and over: "You see I am saved just the same, even if I don't feel it," she would say.
It burned in her soul that this word might be of the same blessing to others, as it became to her. She asked me to bring it out to more people. This I have tried to do, and I do it now.
You who are sick to your soul and unprepared, you who are lost and unworthy-this word is a greeting to you from a dying young girl, who risked her soul's eternal salvation on it-and she found the word was true. It will hold fast for you also.
Let the world go all to pieces,
God's Word will never break, but stand,
It's a bridge for the bride to walk on.
It was on a Sunday morning about 5. Father and mother had sat up all night. Then they had a cup of coffee-and the daughter with them. Suddenly she said: "Today I shall sit at the table in heaven." A little later the father took a walk out in the fresh morning air. Just then the light-beams of eternity began to shine from the marble-white face in the sick-room -- and the mother asked: "Do you see something, Johanna?''
"Yes, now Jesus is coming to take me home," she exclaimed, as she held out her hands and said to those around: ''Good-bye to all of you-greet fath--" She just reached to the middle of the word "father" when the soul took its fight.
Father was so faithful and true -- and father was always in her prayers, and he was the last in her thoughts.
It was about a year or so later. Then her brother had gone to bed for the last time. I felt that I also should go to see him. Few would go the long distance to see his sister or him.
Neither was Olav so very pleased about such visits to begin with. But a white rose, which now and then was placed in front of his bed helped to thaw the ice.
Olav became a sinner and felt the need of the grace that saves sinners. This grace he experienced. From then on the young man became happy like a child f or every visit.
The sister had been a faithful intercessor for the relatives and near and dear ones before she died--father especially had been on her heart. Now Olav followed in the same steps.
He prayed with tender concern, especially for his father, and asked me to help him to pray for him. "Now I am going to die," he said, "and come to heaven. There I will meet Johanna. It would be so wonderful, if I could tell her that father was converted before I died."
Yes-we did pray for his father.
-- -- -- --
I went out from the sick-room. Out on the steps I met the father, who came from his work.
"How goes it?" I asked. His face lit up and he said: "Today I got to see it. Today at the sawmill, I found the faith, as did Luther, that I am justified freely through the redemption in Jesus Christ. And I, who have labored for thirty years to become a Christian!'' he added. Then Ole Saether could walk in to his sick son and tell him of the great miracle that had taken place in his life.
Then the son's cup flowed over.
Not long afterward Olav was called home to his Savior.
I was leaving for the Land of the West. It was most sad to part with Ole Saether--the faithful, warm-hearted brother.
It took time before I again could visit old Nidaros (Trondheim), 18 long years. In the meantime Saether had been gathered home to be with Him who saved him and justified him freely and had given him part in the inheritance of the saints in the light up yonder.
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