Saturday, July 28, 2012

“Life is a steep climb … and we must help one another”

“Life is a steep climb,” she wrote almost a century ago, “and it does the heart good to have somebody ‘call back’ and cheerily beckon us up the high hill.”

In the past hundred years, tens of thousands of us have received blessing upon blessing because Mrs. Charles E. Cowman called back—in writing.

We are all climbers together,” she continued in Streams in the Desert, “and we must help one another. This mountain climbing is serious business, but glorious. It takes strength and a steady step to find the summits.… If anyone among us has found anything worthwhile, we ought to ‘call back.’”

How long ago did I first read those words? Over 30 years ago. And they became an important theme in my life—a goal, a focus.

Below is a poem she wrote and, despite sounding old-fashioned, it contains precious gems of wisdom and inspiration for even the youngest among us:

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back
‘Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn;
That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.

Oh, friend, call back, and tell me for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky—
If you have gone a little way ahead, oh, friend, call back
‘Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

(from Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert; emphasis mine)

Little did I know that Mrs. Cowman’s message would live so long in my heart and lead me to the word “memoir” and it all means, and the ways memoirs can bless others.

The point of her post echoes in this:

“ … The God of all comfort … comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

“Any grief we have gone through ourselves
and given over to the Lord’s healing
is preparation for comforting others.…
As one who has received comfort from Christ,
I will think of myself as a communicator of comfort.”
(Lloyd John Ogilvie, Silent Strength for My Life; emphasis mine)

Was there a time when your world fell apart, when your faith was at a low point, when you longed for God to heal your broken heart?

If so, it was “preparation for comforting others.” You “have gone a little way ahead” of others. Let God use your experience and your words to comfort others.

If you have experienced the death of a dream, or if you have endured devastating illness, write for those just beginning their own long, discouraging battle: “Call back, and tell [readers] that He went with you into the storm.”

If you’ve faced financial ruin, or if you’ve survived abuse or infidelity or betrayal, “call back” to encourage readers in the midst of their own heartache—those dear ones reeling while “the heavens thunder and the earthquake shakes.” Tell them the ways God “bore you up and held you.”

You cannot know who will read your words, but your stories are important. No one else can write them the way you can, and God can and will use them

Someone needs to read your God-and-you stories.

Say He heard you!”

“Say He saw you!”

“God gave us the gift of language to express something extraordinary. Well chosen words launched intentionally from one heart to another … soothe, heal, edify, build, and bring comfort.” (Birdie Courtright)  

Write stories for your memoir that will call back:
Be a communicator of comfort.


  1. Dear Linda, What a lovely reminder of the power of our words to heal and transform. So comforting as will as inspirational. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kathy, I am amazed at the power of words and stories to heal. God gave humans words and stories, and He has used them in powerful, life-changing ways from the very beginning. It's humbling to be part of that.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kathy.


  2. I love the quote from 2Cor 1:3-4. THIS is the good that can come out of any crushing blow life flings our way: to rise up, to keep breathing, to see the goodness of the Lord in spite of what we walk through... and then to share that hope with someone else facing a similar trial. The healing journey is definitely much more beautiful when you share your story to give others hope.

    1. Well said, De, well said. I can identify with the "keep breathing" part!

      When I think back to people who shared special words and messages with me (either through books or in person)--shared their experiences and their reasons for hope, I am SO THANKFUL. In fact I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if I had not heard/read their words. My gratitude toward those people is a strong motivator for me to do the same.

      You, too, have many important stories to share, stories to bring life and goodness and hope and joy. Keep up the good work, De! Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Linda, I love Streams in the Desert, having read it a few years ago myself (a lot more than a few!). Your choice of Scripture today is moving and means a great deal if we read it and live by it. And your lovely photo background for the Holley Gerth quote is a day brightener. All of this together reminds us that no matter what faces us as we walk the path of life, He is always there to keep us moving forward. :)


  4. Hi, Sherrey, so you are a fellow reader of Streams in the Desert! How nice! I read it every day for decades, but I set it aside a few years ago. I read it every now and then but it still contains so many treasures, so many faith-builders. I can't imagine how different my life would be if I hadn't had the wisdom of those saints to guide me.

    I'm glad you like the photo background. One day I spotted that sweet little Johnny Jump-Up thriving at the base of a cement wall in the hot sunshine and thought to myself, "There's a sermon in that picture." It inspired me to keep going (and try to look nice!) even when I find myself in less-than-desirable situations. Bloom where you're planted.

    Thanks for stopping by, Sherrey.