Choosing A Wife
Reminds me of a little story. I just must say it ‘fore we go on. Out west here sometime ago, many years, there was this great Armour and Swift Packing Company. How they do, they come out there and buy cattle and buy ranches. And they’re worth a lot of money, and buy up all the small ranches, and have millions of acres of ranch like that, run these big, fine Hereford cattle in sections…?… Own their own railroads and things that brings them cattle from one pasture to another. And Armour and Swift had a big ranch, and one day they had a foreman there, the–the superintendent, it was, of the ranch, he had about four or five daughters. And they found out that one of the big Armour brothers was–or not brothers, but sons, were going to visit the ranch. And he was a–a young, single man. And all these girls was sure was going to vamp this boy as soon as he–he come. And so they all was getting ready and making everything ready to come.
When he got there, they was going to meet him. They put on an old frontier day, with their little dresses on, with their fringe on it, and 44’s on each hip, and them hats on the back of their head, you know. And they was going to be regular westerners, and each one of the girls was going to get… One of them was going to get this boy.
And they had a–a little cousin there that her mother was dead and her father was dead. She was a cousin, and she almost was the slave to all that was there. And all the dirty work, she had to do it, washing the dishes and everything. And she had no clothes; she had to take hand-me-downs.
And so when the time come that the boy was to arrive, they all got in their buckboards, and away down to the station they went to receive him. And they was shooting the guns, and the horses nickering, and everything. And they brought him out to the ranch. And that night they had a big shindig. And they got out there on the haystack and the corral fence, and they–they sang, and they danced, and all through the night. He was there for two or three days.
This little cousin… Now, I’m going to liken this to something now. Our cousins that’s all dressed up, big spires and fine churches, and looks like if there’s any dirty name it has to be give to the Pentecostals, and something that’s wrong. They do the wrong things too, but it never heard about. You see? They’re kind of classical, so they don’t hear about that. But let some Pentecostal minister make a mistake one time, and, brother, I’m telling you, they’ll pack her across the country in every newspaper. Yes, sir. Let some Pentecostal brother pray for a child, and it dies, every newspaper in the country will pack it: “Divine Healing Is Fanaticism.”
Well, then why not put every case in the paper that the doctor loses? “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” See? So if they’d do that, they wouldn’t have enough room in the columns in the papers to write all the dead. If I’d go out here in the graveyard and say, “Everybody that ever died under Divine healing stand up,” and then say, “Everybody ever died under medical treatment stand up,” it’d outnumber them a million to one. And that’s exactly right. So if they’re going to criticize one, criticize the other. That’s right. But they kill millions a year with medicines and operations; you never hear a word about it. See?
So this little girl, she had all the rough work to do. So when, all at once, the boy… One night when supper was over, and they’d had dances, and each one of these girls had prettied all up, you know. And this poor little girl had to have a little, old ragged dress on. And one night she was setting in the mess hall after supper was over, and she’d washed the dishes, and she run out through the back yard to throw the dishwater out. She–when she turned around the corral fence, there he stood, leaning at the corral fence; he said, “Hello.”
She was so ashamed, because that was the superintendent’s boy, the son of the owner of the ranch. She held the dish down–pan down, so he wouldn’t notice she was so ragged, started backing off with her bare feet, looking back, like this.
And he walked up to her, said, “Don’t be afraid of me.” Said, “I want to tell you something.” He said, “I come out here for one purpose; I come out to find a wife.” And said, “I’ve been looking everywhere.” Said, “I didn’t want to marry any of the girls back there in the city; I want to get what I thought was a real wife.” And said, “Of all that I’ve seen, I’ve been noticing you around here. And I found out through some of the hands that you’re a cousin.” Said, “That’s right, sir.”
Said, “I want to ask you something. Will you marry me?” Why, she didn’t know what to do. She was so beset; she didn’t–she didn’t know how to answer the man.
Oh, I just about imagine how she felt, don’t you? When me, a sinner once, no good for nothing, drunkard’s child, Jesus Christ said, “I want you for Mine.” How could He ever come to somebody like me? How could He ever say, “I’ll give you a home in heaven”? How could He ever say, “I’ll save you”? Such a wretch as me, how could it ever be? But He did it.
She said, “Sir, I–I’m not… I–I’m not worthy. I couldn’t make a wife to a man like you,” said, “because you are used to great things. And I know nothing about them; I’m poor.”
He said, “But you are my choice.”
And wasn’t it nice when Jesus told you that… You knowed you wasn’t worthy to be a Christian. You… There wasn’t nothing you could ever do, but He… It’s nothing… He–He just chose you. See, He… It’s His goodness, His mercy that He chose you. You didn’t choose Him, you know; He chose you. That’s right.
She said, “I–I don’t…” She said…
“Don’t look at your clothes. I don’t look at your clothes; I look at what you are.” He said, “Will you marry me?” And finally the agreement was made. He said, “One year from this day, I will return. You be ready. Have the wedding garment on, for I will return and marry you right here on these grounds. And I’ll take you to Chicago to Outer Drive, there where you’ll have a castle to live in. All this dishwashing will be over, and things, then.”
When the sisters, or the cousins, heard about that, they said, “You poor, little, ignorant fool, why, you know that man didn’t mean that.”
And isn’t that just exactly what they say today? “How could a bunch of holyrollers, a bunch of people that hardly can write their own name, how would they ever be the church? How would a group like that ever be?” But that’s just all right, when we got engaged and felt that betrothal kiss of Jesus Christ on our hearts to take away our sins, Something tells us that He’s coming back again just as…?… Someday He’ll come back.
All year she worked, slaving, saved her little seventy-five-centses, whatever they give here for her wages a day. And she was saving up her money to buy her wedding gown to make everything ready. Oh, that was all of her thoughts, making ready. And he has… (“She has made Herself ready.”) She got her clothes, her wedding clothes, while her cousins laughed at her and made fun of her. Finally it come to the finally the day. She dressed herself in her wedding garment (Oh.), got all ready and cleaned up. And her little cousins come around and bowed by her, said, “Well, you silly little thing. Why, you know he didn’t mean that. He wouldn’t speak to a–or marry a girl like you.” But she made herself ready anyhow.
So it come along late in the evening, and they begin to mock and make fun of her. She stood right at the door, waiting, anyhow. And so she… He said, “What time did he say he’d be here?”
Said, “He didn’t say.” But said, she told–he told me the night that he marry–that he gave me the engagement ring. He said, he told me, “It would be about one year from now.” Therefore I’ve got a hour left.” Amen, just kept waiting. “I got one hour left, thirty minutes left, ten minutes left.” And they laughed, and made fun of her, and called her everything.
But finally, right at that crucial hour, they heard the sand turning under the wheels, the horses a coming. What a thing it was to see that little bride that made herself ready, jump out of the door, and run down through the rose-covered trellis out there, to fly into the arms of the man that she loved, and to be her husband, to pick her up in like that, and be married and ride away.
Some of these days, brother, those who are making fun and saying, “holy-roller and–and Pentecostal,” and things like that… We’re waiting; we still got a little time. They say, “Aw, there’s no difference what there ever was.” Don’t worry, we got a little time left. And at that moment that He promised, He’ll be here. And some of these days we’ll take a flight and go away. Just be ready. Keep the wedding garment on. Keep all cruel out of your heart.”