Even in the face of this apparent failure with the consumptive woman, Mr. Howells knew that he had gained the position of intercession. He needed no proof himself, but was certain that the Lord would set an outward seal to the inner victory. It Came a few months later. He was called in to see a man in the village who was dying. He found him already unconscious. His wife was sobbing her heart out, for there were ten children, and he was the only bread-winner. The effect on Mr. Howells was immediate. The suffering of the woman came on him as if it were his own sister; he went out into a field and wept, and, as he said, “Once you weep, or the Holy Ghost in you, you are the very one to touch the Throne.”
He knew the only way to help her was to bring her husband back to her, but the man was beyond human aid. However, it seemed as if the Lord made him enter into her feelings to the point where her sufferings became his own, and her need his responsibility. God is “a Father of the fatherless”, and “relieveth the widow”; so he knew that, unless he could prevail for the husband, the Holy Ghost would insist on taking that place through him, and he would be responsible to provide for this woman and support her children.
He returned to the woman’s house and was sitting there, waiting for her to come downstairs, when he heard a voice speaking on a plane that seemed new to him, and saying, “He is not to die; he is to live.” “The stillness that came into that room!” said Mr. Howells. “It was the stillness that God makes when He is there.” The wife came down and he immediately said to her, “Since I last saw you, a great burden of prayer has been on me for your husband, and the Lord has told me he is not to die; he is to live.” But she was not convinced. He could see that she hadn’t taken it from him, and there was every natural reason for this; there was her husband’s condition, and then the fact that the last person Mr. Howells had said would be healed, had so recently died.
He left her and returned home. But as he was crossing the common, the Lord began to speak to him again, and said, “You didn’t speak to that woman in the way you do say things when you are really certain. Tomorrow morning early you must go back and tell her again, and go without doubting.” It was such a strong confirmation that, as he went to bed, he declared out loud, “I’m returning tomorrow to challenge death, and say to it, ‘You will not take this man’.”
As he had a train to catch the next morning at eight o’clock, he started out before six for the two-mile walk to the village. It was snowing and pitch dark, and the Evil One attacked him all the way. “It was as though legions of devils were withstanding me,” he said. “I felt like a man walking against the tide, and the enemy kept saying, ‘The man died as soon as you left last night’.” It was a severe test of faith, but after battling his way through, as he got near the house “it was sweet to see the light”. When he entered, he said to the woman, “I don’t blame you for not taking what I told you yesterday. I didn’t say it to you with the certainty with which I tell things that I know, but I have come over this morning to tell you now that your husband will not die; and as a proof of what I say, if he should die, I will support you and your children.” She brightened visibly, as she really took it from him this time, and he returned in great joy, very differently from the way he had come. “It seemed as though heaven had come down to rejoice, and I knew death could never take him. There was no death there,” he said.
He was away for two days during which he refused to take note of the enemy’s attacks. As he was returning. the devil still kept at it, telling him they would be waiting to give him the news that the man had died, and to ask him to speak at the funeral! When he arrived at the station, some of the believers were waiting for him, and one called out, “He is out of danger. The moment you left the house he changed for the better!”
The next case was harder. It was a woman who was one of their best converts, in whose home they held cottage meetings. She was the wife of one, William Davies, and sister-in-law to the consumptive woman. She was dangerously ill after the birth of a child, and the doctor had given no hope of her recovery. When Mr. Howells went to the home, they were all crying. “Do you know the Lord’s will?” was William Davies’ first eager question. “He hasn’t revealed it yet,” he answered, “but I don’t believe He would take her without telling me.” That was the first ray of light. There was no time for delay, and William in his anxiety pressed him further. “Do you think He will speak today?” “I believe He will,” he reassured him. “I’ll walk home now, and I am sure He will speak to me.”
The vital question, of course, was: What was God’s will? Even though an intercession had been gained, the Lord’s will must be revealed in each case; and in this one the very fact that he wanted her to live could sway his judgment. Only the impartial can find God’s will, as the Saviour said in John 5:30. On that two-mile walk God always talked with His servant. “I have called you friends” was no idle theory to him, but a precious and practical relationship. He always expected the Master to share these secrets with him. So as they walked that day, the Lord’s word came to him again, “She will be healed and not die.” “The moment I heard it,” Rees said, “I had the joy of healing.”
He returned in the early afternoon, because every minute counted. He could even joke with William Davies a bit now. “If I tell you God’s will, will you believe me? If you do, and I tell you your wife is to get well, mind there are no more tears! If you want to cry, you had better cry now before I tell your” “The Holy Ghost was in that house,” Mr. Howells said, “and I knew He had conquered death. Naturally speaking, death was in the room, but I was in perfect peace. We got down and prayed, about six of the children joining us. What a praise meeting we had, and she changed for the better that day!”
Through the position gained in his intercession for the consumptive woman, God’s servant had become sensitive to His voice in cases of sickness in a way that he had never been before. It had been a long spiritual climb in her case, but now he found that in a moment he could take the word of the Lord. He had so many of these cases at that time that it looked as if this would be his special ministry; and he often said from that period, that he believed a new era of healing would break forth in the Christian church. Perhaps only eternity will reveal how much the Spirit’s intercession and believing through him has contributed to the revival of spiritual healing which has been witnessed in many parts of the church in recent years.