Soon after the turn of the century he visited his sister, Julia, Mrs. John T. Kerr, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. While there, he had an escape as narrow as the one in North Carolina.
It was in the middle of winter, and as he was particularly sensitive to the rigors of the north, it was not surprising that he contracted a cold. This did not seem alarming until a throat condition developed that became acute. In addition to this, his tongue became so swollen that he could neither speak nor swallow.
Immediately two of his sisters were summoned to his bedside. One of them remembered that he had always been able to take country buttermilk when every other form of food failed. She sent to Wrightsville for the milk, and when the large can arrived, it seemed that the problem of nourishment was solved, for this food had always been taken in emergencies, and it had never failed. But when the can was opened, they discovered to their bitter disappointment that it contained nothing but water, all the buttermilk having been removed! He had believed that the Lord would use this means for preserving his life, and now the means had been removed—the Lord alone remained!
The doctor seemed utterly unable to relieve him, and James McConkey faced one of those crises in his life which seemed to occur periodically over a span of years. He wondered if the Lord would come to the rescue again, for he realized that he could put no confidence in medical aid at this time. He must cast his burden upon the Lord. He could not voice his own petition, yet he felt the compelling need of mighty intercession. So, raising his weak hand toward heaven, he made known his desire to his brother-in- law, Mr. Kerr, who was a Presbyterian minister. And so it was that the fervent, effectual prayer of this righteous man, combined with that of the sufferer, availed!
The restoration was gradual but it was finally completed. It was out of such an experience that he was able to say, “Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end, with some of us, when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness where we throw ourselves upon God in seeming utter helplessness and defeat. And only then do we wake to ﬁnd that we have learned the lesson of faith; to ﬁnd our tiny craft of life rushing onward to a blessed victory of life and power and service undreamt of in the days of our ﬂeshly strength and self-reliance.”
Taken from J. H. McConkey, 50,51.