Concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, it was written that "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. And being made perfect He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9). Even so it was with God's Servant and Prophet to this Age - He would learn obedience through the things which he suffered. When God was finish with him, that little bundle of clay called William Branham would be ready for The Master's Hands, to be conformed to His will.
From the lips of his dying, young wife, he was reminded of his disobedience in refusing to go forth and "Do the work of an Evangelist, and make full proof of the ministry." Now, God had taken from him 'the desire of his eyes' but once more the Lord would allow death to knock at his door.
Again we ask Brother Branham to continue his narration of the story.....
After Hope had passed away, I started home to see about the babies. How desperately I sought some peace of mind. I went to my mother's... I went to our house, Hope's and mine, everywhere, nothing satisfied me. I couldn't rest. Many of you people know what I mean. That night I finally went to bed and tried to sleep. Sometime during the night somebody knocked on the door. A voice called out in the darkness, "Billy, your baby is dying"
I'll never forget that night when I heard those words. I thought, "Oh, no! Not my baby!" As if it weren't enough that I had lost my wife that day, the friend had come with the news that my baby girl was dying. When we got into his little pickup truck to go to the baby, I thought life was at its very end. How could these things be!
When we arrived at my mother-in-law's house, we found the baby very near death. Dr. Sam Adair had come to the home and examined her. He told me that there was nothing that could be done that he knew of, but we rushed her to the hospital anyway. She had spinal meningitis which she had contracted from her mother. There was no chance at all for her ever to be well. They moved her to an isolated area in the basement of the hospital. I was told that she would be dead in a matter of hours. I can't express with human lips how that tore me up.
Dr. Adair told me that I shouldn't go near her because I might carry the germ to my little boy, Billy Paul. But I just couldn't stand it any longer. Thinking of her mother laying in the undertaker's establishment, I had to see my baby. I tell you, friends, the way of the transgressor is hard.
When the Doctor left the room I went down into the basement. I saw the little darling lying there. When I think of it now it just breaks my heart. As I walked in I looked at her and she tried to look at me. The flies was in her eyes. She was about eight months old, just big enough to be plump and sweet. The poor little thing had never come out of the spasm the meningitis had caused. One of her legs was drawn up and one of her arms was drawing. Her little leg moved up and down. Oh! Such a pitiful sight.
There laid my little darling, dying. I tried to talk to her. It was tragic - the agony was so great that one of them pretty, little blue eyes had crossed. It seemed as if my heart was breaking. I knelt down beside her and tried to pray. I said, "Lord, what have I done? Haven't I preached the Gospel on the Street corners? Don't hold it against me Lord. I never called them people "trash". Forgive me, Lord. Don't take my baby."
And while I was praying, it looked like a big black sheet came down. I knew then that He had refused me. Now, there was the hardest and most treacherous time of my life. I knew I had made a bad mistake in not turning loose of everything and going out into evangelistic work. I believe that the gift was ready to be manifested then, but I had neglected going.
But that dark curtain hung between and my baby was sinking. I raised up to look at her and said, "Sharon, don't you know daddy?" Truly I believe she knew I was there. It looked like she was trying to wave her little hand and her lips were quivering as though she were going to cry. You that have children know how I felt in that hour.
When God refused to talk to me then the Devil began to reason with me in my mind, trying cause me to doubt the Love and Goodness of God. He pointed to a dead wife and a dying child, hoping to turn me aside from serving God. But then, down on the inside, he stuck that Seed of Eternal Life. Faith took over. I rasied up and said, "Lord, you gave her to me and now you're taking her away from me, blessed be the Name of the Lord! If you take even me, I will still love you."
I prayed and laid hands upon her. But the angels came a little while later and took the little darling to be with her mother. I returned home, desolate and weary. Two days later we buried her in her mother's arms. I remember standing heartbroken and in despair at the graveside. It was unendurable. Somehow the leaves blowing on the trees reminded me of the old song:
I know that some day the grave shall burst open, because there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem. I know that some day it shall be opened also because they believed in Jesus Christ their resurrected Redeemer.
The Depths Of Despair
I returned to work, trying to do all I could to pay off the big bills and debts I owed. I'll never forget one morning when I was reading a pole meter on highway 150 near New Albany. I was singing to myself, "On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame." The sun was shining brightly that morning and the pole cast a shadow on a hill in front of me. It was at such an angle that the crossbar and my own body hanging by its safety belt also formed the shadow. There was the cross all over again!
Despondent And Despairing
I wanted so much to go and be with the family in the land beyond this river of life. My life on earth held nothing for me anymore. All that I had to live for was in the next world; without them my broken heart could not find the courage to keep up the struggle. But I know now that in all I went through, God was protecting 'His Gift' - not me, His Gift. He had a plan and it must be worked out. I am sure it took every tragedy and deep sorrow that I had to go through to bring me to the place where He could use me.
But at that moment, at the top of that pole, my grief was overwhelming. I got beside myself. I pulled off my rubber glove and and I said, "Lord, I hate to do this. I'm a coward." Reaching out to grab that twenty-three hundred volts power line, I said, "Sharon, honey, daddy will be with you in just a little while." Then something happened. When I come to myself, I was sitting on the ground, with my hands up to my face, crying. It was God's Grace. It was God protecting His gift - It was ordained to be manifested in this Age.
Sitting there on the ground, Perspiration was breaking out all over me; I was trembling. I just took off my spurs, quit and went home. I went into the house, desperately hoping for something that would take my mind off my grief. But what could an empty house do?... a house with everything still fixed just as she had left it. Everything I looked at reminded me of her.
As I walked despondently around the house, my eyes fell on some mail that had come in. On one envelope I read these words: "Miss Sharon Rose Branham." My heart broke afresh. It was a letter from the bank and a small check that had been sent to my baby... Her little Christmas savings had been returned; I think it amounted to about $1.80. Oh my! There it was, all over again. I started crying and knelt down on the floor. I was so blue; everything seemed too hard to bear. While kneeling there, I thought, "Lord, if you don't help me, I don't know what I'll do!"
Being a game warden, I always carried a pistol with me while on duty. I reached over to the side where I had laid it down and pulled the pistol out of it's holster. I said, "Lord, I can't go this anymore, I'm dying. I'm so tormented." I pulled the hammer back on the gun, put it up to my head, kneeling there on that cot in that dark room. I said, "Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thine will be done," and I squeezed that trigger as hard as I could, I said, "on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread." But the gun wouldn't go off!
And I thought, "O God, are You just tearing me to pieces? What have I done? You won't even let me die." And I throwed the gun down, and it went off and shot through the room. And I said, "God, why can't I die and get out of it? I just can't go no farther. You've got to do something to me." And I fell over and started crying on my little, old dirty bunk there.
And I must have went to sleep. I don't know whether I was asleep or what happened.
A Visit To Heaven
In this experience I thought I was going down along through the prairie, singing that song, "There's a wheel on the wagon is broken, sign on the ranch, `For Sale.'" And as I went along, I noticed an old covered wagon, like an old prairie schooner, and the wheel was broke. Course, that represented my broken family. And as I got close, I looked, and there stood a real pretty, young girl, about twenty years old, white flowing hair and blue eyes, dressed in white.
I looked over at her, I said, "How do you do?" Went on. She said, "Hello, Dad." And I turned back, I said, "Dad? Why," I said, "how, Miss, can I be your daddy when you're as old as I am?"
She said, "Daddy, you just don't know where you're at."
And I said, "What do you mean?"
She said, "This is Heaven." Said, "On earth I was your little Sharon."
"Why," I said, "honey, you was just a little baby."
She Said, "Daddy, little babies are not little babies here, they're immortal. They never get old or never grow."
She said, "Mama's waiting for you up at our new home."
And I said, "New home?" Brenham's are vagabonds, they don't have homes."
She said, "But you got one up here, Daddy."
Then she said, "Mother wants to see you."
And I turned and looked, and there was great big palaces, and the Glory of God coming up around them. And I heard an Angelic choir singing, "My Home, sweet Home." I started up a long steps, running just as hard as I could. And when I got to the door, there she stood, a white garment on, that black hair, long, holding down her back. She raised out her arms, as she always did when I come home tired from work or something. I caught her by the hands, and I said, "Honey, I seen Sharon down there." I said, "She made a pretty girl, didn't she?"
She said, "Yes, Bill."
Then she put her arms around my shoulders and started patting me. She said, "Stop worrying about me and Sharon. We are better off than you are."
I said, "Honey, I can't help it. I've been so lonesome for you and for Sharon, and Billy cries all the time for you." I said, "I don't know what to do with him."
She said, "It'll be all right, Bill. Now don't worry about us no more. Will you promise me?"
Then she asked me to come in a sit down. She directed me to a certain chair. I remember I tried to buy a chair one time. We just had them old common wooden-bottom chairs for the breakfast set - the only chairs we had. And we could buy one of these chairs that you let back in the back, It was a certain kind of an easy-rest chair. And it cost seventeen dollars, and you could pay three dollars down and a dollar a week. And we got one. And, oh, when I'd come in after working all day, and preaching till midnight around the streets and wherever I could preach, I would sit in that chair.
And one day I got behind on my payments. We couldn't make it, and it got day after day, and finally one day they come and got my chair and took it back. That night, I never will forget, she had me a cherry pie baked. Poor little old thing, she knew I was going to be disappointed. And after supper I said, "What's you so good about tonight, honey?"
And she started crying. I knew there was something wrong. I had an idea 'cause they had already sent me a notice they was coming to get it. And we couldn't make that dollar payment a week. We couldn't, just couldn't afford it. She put her arms around me, and I went to the door and my chair was gone.
She told me up There, she said, "You remember that chair, Bill?"
And I said, "Yes, honey, I remember."
She said, "Well, they won't take this one, this one's paid for." Then She said, "Sit down just a minute, I want to talk to you." And she said, "Promise me, Billy, promise me that you won't worry anymore. You're going back now." But Promise me you won't worry."
And just then I come to myself - it was dark in the room. I looked around, and I felt her arm around me. I said, "Hope, are you here in the room?"
She started patting me. She said, "You going to make me that promise, Bill? Promise me you won't worry no more." I said, "I promise you."
She patted me two or three times, and then she was gone. I jumped up and turned on the light, looked everywhere, she was gone. But she just gone out of the room. She isn't gone, she's still living. She was a Christian.
Since that time God has given me the strength to carry on. I continued to preached and work at different jobs. Then in 1946, after severe trials and testing's, the Lord graciously came on the scene and commissioned me to take a Message of Divine Healing to the world. For all He has done for me I humbly thank Him.