The Grace of God Shown to a Miner in Alaska

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 4
I went to Alaska in 1897 to the Copper River Country, on a grub stake. As I was sledding my personal effects and grub and mining outfit, my eyesight began to fail. I had noticed that my eyes were not good about two weeks before. Finally, I came across a deserted cabin. I stopped in this cabin and let the crowd go by, as they expected to find plenty of gold. What hardships men will undergo to find the gold which perisheth!
With my bedimmed eyes, I thought it wise to rest a few days in hopes that my eyesight would improve. But to my surprise and dismay, my eyes kept getting worse, and after thirty days my sight was gone, and there was no apparent reason why I was thus blind.
My eyes were not inflamed, neither did they pain me. My sad affliction led me to think and wonder what would become of me. I was all alone, had but little fuel, and I did not expect any one to come to the cabin. Deep snows had covered every trail, and there I was shut out from the world, alone and blind. There was nothing left for me to do but to remain, eat up my provisions, lie in cot and keep covered with blankets to keep from freezing. I just waited to see what would turn up.
A panorama of my past life went before me. I was compelled to think, and I also discovered that I was cornered; there seemed to me no way out. I did not believe I would ever see again. I felt that if I could only die and never be found, it would be a relief. Twice in my life before, I had been given up to die, but this was worse; I wanted to die and could not. I was well in body, except that I was poor, old and blind. I had a wife and son in Denver who were depending on me. I had made one last effort to make another stake, and had failed. All hope had fled; the cabin was not in sight of the path; I did not think it possible for any one to come my way; there was no smoke to lead one to my cabin door; I was completely lost to all the world.
O, the horrors of being lost! To be lost in this world is frightful, but O, to be lost in the world to come—forever! How dreadful!
In this loneliness, this lostness, I began to feel the need of God, and of a Savior. My mother’s sweet face came up before me, and I remembered her prayers with vivid imaginations, although she had been dead forty years. She was a woman of faith, and always believed that God answered prayer. I remembered how she used to pray in the barn, away back on the hay where we could not see her. She was the only one in the family to pray. How I wished that I could believe as she did! I then began to think about praying myself. That was about all that was left for me to do, except to die. I asked God to help me, to send some one to deliver me. I prayed all day and all night, until I went to sleep. I felt better when I was praying. But no answer came. I continued to pray for three days and three nights constantly, except when I would sleep a little. There was no answer, so I became discouraged.
Finally, my eyes were turned in upon myself. I knew that I was a sinner. I tried to think of something else, but my mind would revert to my own wretched condition, and involuntarily I would begin to pray again. I was cut off from all earthly assistance; there was no arm of flesh to lean upon; I only could call upon God. My past life stalked before me like a ghost—the years of unbelief, and doubts, and sins. Perhaps this was why God did not answer my prayer. I began to think that I was completely cut off from God. Memory was active; am I lost from God? Why pray more? I any a lost man, and God will not hear me. I felt all hope was gone.
Finally, I began to repent of my past life. I saw that I had made an awful mistake; my feelings overcame me for a time. What a sad hour that was to me! But hope, like the rays of the sun, came to my rescue again. I said to myself, “I will not give up; I will pray again.” I determined to ask God to answer, so that I might know that He heard me. If He would do so, I would believe on Him the rest of my life. My sight came to me in the twinkling of an eye. I could see as well as ever. It was so sudden that it fairly surprised me. I was entirely overcome, and for a time I forgot everything. “O,” I exclaimed, “God has heard and answered my prayer! This is the most wonderful thing I have ever heard of. God must be here, and it seemed that I could feel His very presence. Yes, yes, God is surely here, for He has given me my sight! There is no mistake about it; I am sure that I was blind, but now I can see. O, this is wonderful! If I had only known about this wonderful God, I would have served Him all the days of my life.” I knew now that Christ had died for my sins, and I put my whole trust in Him as my Savior.
I began to be happy. I shouted a loud as I could, “Glory to God!” I got the door open, got out and on top of the hard snow. The sun was shining. The whole woods seemed to be alive; the treetops were clapping their hands, and everything seemed to be praising God.
My spiritual eyes had been opened; I was looking upon a new world. While nature seemed to dance, glisten and sparkle, the blessing in my own soul was more wonderful; I was filled with the glory of God.
The impression made upon my mind is indelible. My whole life was changed in a moment. “Old things had passed away; behold, all things had become new.” I knew the truth. I have experienced the new life in Christ. I know the supernatural power of God; I am not deceived; it is no delusion. Words fail me to express it. “It passeth knowledge.” I found the richest mine in Alaska. An inexhaustible mine; the more I take out, the more there is left; the deeper I dig, the richer the vein.
Now I am anxious to share it with the whole world.
“O, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace!”
The riches of earth, such as gold, silver, and precious stones, are but for a time—a little while—then they fade away. But the riches of heaven that God pours into the soul, will last forever. They do business in the other world on the e riches. The more of these heavenly riches you compass here, the richer you will be over yonder. My brother, my sister, do not wait until you are old; accept this free gift today.
“Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
I was sixty-four years old when God met me in that lonely cabin. I had but one chance in ten thousand. How narrow was my escape! How fearful to contemplate! Hear the plea of one who knows. Do not delay!
It might be of interest to the reader to know just how I got out of the cabin. About June first, the men came back from their gold hunt up the river. They knew me and where I stopped, and so looked me up. They were in a sorry plight; their toes, noses, and hands were frozen. One of them had a small camera, and he took the picture of my cabin where God met me. In a few days we came to Prince William Sound, and from there we shipped for Seattle.
It is nearly fifteen years since both my physical and spiritual eyes were so miraculously opened. I dwell upon that hour with pleasure. I know how marvelous is God’s grace, and how terrible the soul that is lost. This vision was not given to me to hide under a bushel, but to pass along, that others who are blind towards God and His adorable Gospel (good news), may have their eyes opened. To Paul was said, “To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” (Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)). I want the whole world to know that God will meet a needy one; that God will convince him of sin; that God will fill his soul, and give him peace through faith in Christ Jesus; and that God’s Word is true.
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6, 76Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6‑7)).