His Last Thanksgiving Day
In A Lumber Camp


author: unknown
A Tract by Pilgrim Tract Society

It was the daybreak of an autumn day. In the dim light two men were treading their way through a pine forest. Tim was short and humpbacked, with long, sinewy arms. Not withstanding his deformity and his tangled dark hair and beard, it was a kindly, if not a clever face which peered up at Raymond.

Raymond, who had newly arrived in camp, was younger, tall, broad shouldered, and carried himself proudly erect. He had a fair, clear-cut face and steely blue eyes.

"Ray, youíve got a lot to be thankful for."

"I?"

"Yes," and Tim cheerily refused to note the scorn in the other voice. "I don't just know what's in the few years behind you, nor what brought the likes of you here, but youíre straight and strong, ye know books and youíve had a chance. The boys here are different, but youíve had a chance, Ray."

"It's nobody's business but my own," he said to himself, trying to forget the counsel of his aged father. "Well, I'm free from the old superstitions, yet sometimes ask myself if freedom is worth the price I paid for it."

Haskins' Camp was situated in Northern Minnesota. Raymond had arrived but three weeks before. His fellow-workmen saw at once that he was not one of them. They resented his correct speech, personal neatness, and especially his refusal to join in their rough amusements.

Thanksgiving day came. On that morning, Raymond awoke from a troubled sleep. All night his dreams had been haunted by visions of his past.

Snow was falling rapidly, for winter had already come to that northern land. Raymond and Tim were working with a large party of wood choppers.

At that moment a monarch of the forest (a large tree) came crashing to the ground with a resounding crash. Above this noise rang out a cry of terror and pain.

It was poor, crippled Tim. He had chanced to stand where the great branches swept him from his feet and pinned him to the earth. Raymond was the first to reach his side. Carefully the men freed him, finding the poor, bent body fearfully mangled.

"I guess it's all over with me boys," he said, trying hard to keep his voice steady.

"Ray, stay by me. Oh, be careful!"

They carried him to the camp. A man started on horseback to the nearest village, twenty miles distant, for a doctor. All feared Tim would not live until the doctor arrived, and his suffering was great.

When he had been laid on a rude bunk near the great stove he looked up willfully into the faces of his companions.

"It's death, boys. Tell me about God-- no one ever told me."

A strange silence fell upon the group of men, a silence broken only by the howling of the wind outside. Tim spoke again, "Ray, tell me. It must be you know, because youíre different from the rest of us."

All eyes turned toward the young man. He bent lower over Tim, asking: "What is it you want to hear?"

"All about Him. Will He be mad because I never thanked Him? You see, I don't know much, and nobody ever told me. Can't you my boy? Pray for me."

Raymond Lee's face grew stern and white. His father was a minister. He had himself been a theological student. The influence of a skeptical classmate and the reading of books loaned by him had instilled doubt into Raymondís mind. Dominated by an idea of his own mental superiority, the youth went on, until a day came when he scoffed at the faith of his dead mother, and denied God. He resolved to cut himself loose from home ties. He wrote defiantly to his father of his change of views, and went out into the world, leaving no clue whereby he could be traced.

Dark days followed. He had to learn the emptiness of a life without hope in God. He hungered for the sound of his father's voice, but was too proud to return home and beg forgiveness. In a fit of desperation he had hired out to the foreman of Haskins' lumber camp.

All these things flashed through his mind in a moment. This dying man was asking him to pray. A groan broke from his lips. "Tim, I cannot. I--" and he paused, unable to say that he did not believe in the God to Whom, in the hour of death, even Tim had turned.

"Can't! Why, I supposed you knew Him. Youíve had a chance."

Raymond could bear no more, Turning away, he rushed out into the storm. For hours he strode back and forth through the trackless forest. He heeded neither the wind nor the snow. Face to face he met and grappled with the problem of a man's relation to his Creator.

Raymond Lee was alone with God. In that hour his boasted skepticism fell from him. The theories of science and law, upon which he had rested, gave way beneath him. There was but one sure foundation.

Shadows were beginning to gather in the room where Tim lay when the door opened to admit Raymond. With a firm step he crossed to the side of the dying man.

"Tim, I have been with God. He has forgiven me, sinner that I am. Now I have come to tell you of His love."

Simply, tenderly he told the story of God's love in sending His beloved Son into the world to die for sinners-- to become the Sin-bearer of all who will put their trust in Him as Saviour.

"God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
(Romans 5:8)

"The blood o£ Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."
(I John 1:7)

Others gathered around the bed. Could they doubt the truth of the words spoken, when they saw the light that came in Tim's face? "I see," he gasped.

Raymond knelt down. First one and then another of the rough men dropped upon their knees. Never had Raymond Lee prayed as in that hour. God was with him. Around him were men who, in Tim's own words had "never had a chance.Ē He prayed with a faith born of absolute belief in God's willingness to save.

"It's all right," Tim murmured. "I'm going to Him. Ray, you tell everybody."

"Yes, Tim. I will spend my life telling this story."

The dying man said feebly, "I thank Him." A few moments more and all was over.

Raymond faced his fellow workmen. "Tim is gone. Boys, I have gone back to the service I pledged to God many years ago. You heard my promise to Tim. Will you forgive the spirit I have shown toward you, and let me begin by telling you?"

"Yes, we will," was the reply of one. "When we come where Tim is, we will wish we had heard." That night Raymond wrote a long letter to his father. The next night he held a meeting and began to tell the story of Jesus-- His death and resurrection.

At the close of Raymondís heart to heart talk the third evening the door opened; a stranger with snow-white hair entered. "Father!"

"My, son! I came to help you here," and Raymond Lee was clasped in his father's arms.

The work begun in Haskins' camp went on until seventy souls were brought to know the Lord Jesus as their own Saviour.

"Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
(Acts 8:19)

"For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
(Mark 8:36)

"If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
(I John 1:9)

Pilgrim Tract Society, Inc.
Randleman, North Carolina 27311

presented to you by the Bread On The Waters Ministry
of Kraig Josiah Rice
www.breadonthewaters.com


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As of August 11, 2005