Ellen Harmon Runs Away 

Ellen Harmon gazed unseeingly out of the bedroom window at the crisp white landscape outside. She stood perfectly still and yet the stillness belied the conflict that was raging inside her heart.

She couldn’t do it. No. It was absolutely impossible.

She bit down on her lip in a vain attempt to keep it from trembling. The vision she had seen a short while ago was completely contrary to the popular belief held among every single Adventist in Portland. They all believed that the 2300 days had not yet ended and yet her vision had shown her distinctly that this was not the case. The 2300 days had ended and God had led his people through the entire experience, including the bitter disappointment they had faced a few short weeks ago.

“No one will believe me” she muttered to herself, involuntarily twisting her hands together.

No one.

“I’m only seventeen” she continued, a pleading edge creeping into her voice “No one will believe a weak, uneducated seventeen year old girl, especially one presenting views so completely contrary to what every Adventist believer in this city embraces” she turned away from the window and felt a wave of panic wash over her. The still small nudging in her heart was clear and distinct.

Tell others what I have revealed to you.

I can’t do it! She cried out mentally, grabbing her warm coat and rushing toward the bedroom door. She made it through the front door undetected and then ran to the stables to hitch a horse to the family sleigh.

“Please God” she ground out through chattering teeth, as her fingers fumbled with the bridle and harness. “I just can’t do it.”

She was running away and she knew it but she just couldn’t bring herself to face the other Advent believers. There was to be a meeting in her home that very evening and she knew that if she stayed home she would be compelled to share what God had revealed to her. She just couldn’t stay.

Jumping into the sleigh Ellen hightailed it to the home of a friend who lived a short distance away. As she made her way into the house, trudging through the soft white dusting of snow, she couldn’t shake off the feeling of unease that was beginning to settle over her like a thick cloud.

Tentatively opening the door Ellen ventured inside. The house was strangely silent and Ellen was about to call out when she heard a slight movement in the drawing room. A moment later a man emerged from the room and stood facing her in the hallway.

An Uncomfortable Conversation

“Brother Turner” Ellen said in mild surprise “I did not expect to find you here”

Joseph Turner smiled and nodded at her in greeting “Sister Harmon, nor did I expect to find you here. Isn’t there a meeting in your home this evening?”

Ellen glanced down momentarily before looking up at him and nodding, “yes there is” she said quietly.

“Then why are you here Sister Harmon? Are you walking in the path of duty?”

Ellen bit her lip and looked down again, unable to meet his knowing gaze. “If you will excuse me” she finally muttered, hurriedly maneuvering her way past him and bolting up the stairs. Once she reached the top of the stairs Ellen hurried down the narrow passageway in search of the guest room. Once she was safely inside she leaned against the door, her heart thumping and her ears straining to hear if Joseph Turner had followed her. She sighed in relief when she realized that he hadn’t.

The hours ticked by slowly and restlessly. Ellen remained cooped up in the small second story room alternating between pacing and wrestling with God in prayer. A soft knock on the door set her heart racing again.

“Who is it?” she asked hesitantly

“It’s Joseph Turner” came the quiet reply “I wanted to…to talk to you sister Harmon”

Breathing a sigh Ellen crossed the room and yanked open the door.

“Yes, Brother Turner?” She asked standing in the doorway and looking expectantly up at his face.

He took a step forward into the room and looked directly into her face. It was a searching gaze and Ellen found herself averting her eyes.

“Do you mean to attend the meeting at your home this evening?” he finally asked, getting straight to the point.

“No,” Ellen said turning away from him “I do not”

“Why not?” he stepped around her and stood in front of her once more, his eyes locked on her face.

She refused to answer him or meet his gaze.

“I have heard about your vision” he finally said and Ellen sucked in a sharp breath “You have?” she asked finally gathering the courage to look at him

“I have” he nodded and then his gaze intensified “I want you to relate it to me,” he said, a small quiver of excitement edging its way into his voice. “I want to know…I want to know what God has shown you” he finished haltingly

“No” Ellen shook her head firmly “I cannot”

“I think you must. Or at the very least I think it your duty to go home and attend the meeting tonight and share with everyone present what God has revealed to you. You must. It is your duty to do so”

“I cannot,” Ellen said abruptly shaking her head and walking away from him “

“But sister Harmon” his voice turned pleading.

“I already told you, Brother Tuner…I cannot” she shook her head, her back turned to him “I simply cannot” her voice was a hoarse whisper.

“Consider what you are doing Sister Harmon” Joseph Turner finally said after a heavy pause “Do not shy away from the duties that God has placed before you” and with that, he turned on his heel and quietly left the room.

Ellen wrapped her arms around herself and shivered as she replayed his words again and again in her mind.

Did he even understand what he was asking her? If she were to share the vision that God had given her she would directly contradict what he himself believed about the 2300 day prophecy and the great disappointment. He would most likely be one of the loudest voices to denounce her and her visions.

She just couldn’t bring herself to take that leap. But the struggle in her heart was fierce and the whole day she found herself on her knees alternating between wrestling and pleading with God. The more she pushed against the convicting voice of God’s Spirit the more she felt like God had forsaken her. The anguish in her soul was deep.

Finally, late in the evening, she surrendered. Accepting the call to share what God had shown her and promising to do so as soon as an opportunity presented itself.  Pleading with God for the strength she rode home that night, only to find that the meeting had ended. Her family didn’t speak a word to her about the details of the meeting.

At the next meeting held at her parent’s home, Ellen Harmon stood up to share what God had shown her. Surrendering to God had been a hard choice to make but as Ellen learned through the experience choosing not to surrender was even harder.

Further Reading and Citations

  • White E.G. (1888) – Life Sketches of James and Ellen White
  • White A.L.  (1985) – Ellen White: The Early Years