“He brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Sol. 2:4)
My favorite contemporary Christian poet is Martha Snell Nicholson (1898-1953). Her poems are not only touching and thought provoking, they are Biblically sound. Her great gift was only enhanced by the experience of great suffering. Through her life, she suffered tuberculosis, angina, cancer, extreme anemia, and crippling arthritis. At one point, her body was so jack-knifed that her ribs dug into her stomach. From that suffering emanated some of the most wonderful poetry ever written, as far as I’m concerned. I would encourage you to search for it.
At one time, I had a copy of her autobiography, His Banner Over Me, but somehow, in all our moving through the years, I lost it. It is out of print, of course, but I was thrilled to find it reproduced on a website. I want to share some of the last words of her book. I know many of you are hurting right now, and her words of victory and praise may well be an encouragement to your heart, as they have been to mine. Savor them!
And now my story is nearly told. God will write the last chapters in His own time, His own way. We know it will have a happy ending. The life story of any Christian ends as does the fairy story of our youth, “And they all lived happily ever afterward.”
Looking back, how clearly I can see from this vantage point, the road which once seemed so shrouded with clouds and darkness. In spite of grief and illness I can truly say I am a happy woman. When I was an inarticulate child, if anyone had asked me why I was happy, I would have replied, “Because it is all true about Jesus.”
And now, with the silver in my hair and with my body bent and twisted, I can still think of no other way to express the reason for my joy than to say, “Because it is all true about the Lord Jesus Christ.” All true that there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins and that sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains . . .
My happiness is not based upon my own faith, which wavers; nor on my own good works, which as a basis of salvation are in His eyes as filthy rags. Not on my “experience,” which is but a fitful human thing. But on the eternal fact that it is true about the lovely Son of God who sought me, found me, bought me, taught me; who lifted me out of the miry clay and set me upon a rock, accepted in the Beloved. I found that the cleft of that rock was the secret place of the Most High, and the Shadow of the Almighty.
All true that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. All true that NOW I am one of the sons of God and that it doth not yet appear what I shall be, but that when He shall appear, I shall be like Him.
All true that any day, any moment, He may come for His own. All true that at last I shall be rid of this suffering humiliating flesh; I shall meet again my dear ones; and more than all else, I shall behold with my own eyes that precious Lover of my soul. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.
It is all true that throughout my entire life His banner over me has been love, even though I knew it not. All true that I shall spend time and eternity in His banqueting house with Him whom my soul loveth.
Oh, what does it matter if I suffer a little more here? Of what importance the manner of my going to Him?
O the keen rapture! O dear delight,
When to my longing eyes faith becomes sight,
And my heart whispers, “My Lord, it is Thee!”
O the sweet safety! O the bright glory,
Every word true of that wonderful story;
O the fair morning Dawning for me!