Cripple Tom and his Texts
one of the miserable
Born a cripple, he had always been a sufferer; but, as long as he was able, he had swept a crossing on his crutches, or gone short errands to earn a few pence. But soon after his parents’ death the boy had to take to his bed. Very ungraciously the old woman allowed him to occupy the top room in her house, which room he never left again.
His mother had taught him to read and write, but, not knowing the truth herself, she had never told him of “Jesus and His love.” Sometimes, however, on a snowy night when the wind was blowing hard and cold, the lad had crept into the Mission Hall not far distant, merely for the sake of getting a warm by the comfortable stove. Numb with cold, and weary in body, he took little heed of what he had heard on those nights’ but now, lying alone day after day, there came into his mind the memory of it, and by degrees he was possessed with a great longing to know more about the things of God, and to have a Bible of his own. He knew that it was from the Bible that the speakers had gathered their knowledge, but that was all. So, summoning up courage, he one day consulted Granny about it.
His only encouragement in that direction was a laugh. “Bibles weren’t in her line! What did a lad like him want with Bibles?” So the matter dropped for a time, but the lad’s desire to possess one did not grow less.
One day, however, up the creaking stairs came noisy, boisterous Jack Lee, the only friend the cripple had in the world.
“Hurrah! Hurrah! Got a new berth! Off north to-morrow! Come to say good-bye, Tom,” he cried, all excitement, seating himself on the bed, and wiping the perspiration from his brow; ”But I’ve got a real beauty present for you, my lad,” taking from his pocket something wrapped in a greasy bit of brown paper.
Tom raised himself on his elbows, not at all gladdened by the news he had heard.
“A bright new shilling for you, Tom, lad. And you’re not to spend it till yer wants suffin real particular.”
“Oh, Jack! You’re good, but I want something now very particular.”
Yer do? What’s he?
“I want a Bible.”
“A Bible! Well, I never! Spending all that on a Bible, when I had to scrape months and months to save it in coppers.”
“Don’t be angry, Jack,” said the cripple boy. “I do so want a Bible. Please get it, Jack-now-this very evening, at Fisher’s, afore the shop closes. Granny never would; she’d spend it in gin, if I let it get into her hands.”
“What can yer want with a Bible, Tom, lad? Only scholards understands them there things,” he answered rather crossly.
“Maybe so, Jack, But I’m hankering after one.”
“Very well, lad, then I’ll go, but I knows nought about Bible buyin’.”
“Fisher has ‘em at a shilling, for I saw ‘em marked in the window when I used to go by.”
Jack descended the stairs less rapidly than he had mounted them. But he got over his disappointment before he returned with a beautiful shilling Bible. “Fisher says I couldn’t leave you a better friend, Tom, lad, the shilling couldn’t be vested better; and, says he, “It may be worth a thousan’ pounds to the lad.” So ‘pears there’s suffin as we ought to know about.”
Tom’s joy and gratitude were unbounded. “I know it, Jack. I know it!” Hugging the Book to his breast.
“I’m happy now. Oh, how kind you were to save that shilling.” So Tom got his Bible, and valued it and read it.
Do you?-you, reader-man, woman, boy, girl, - do you value and read the Book of God? If so, you will find out what cripple Tom discovered. And what was that? He found out he was a sinner-lost and in need of a Saviour, and he found that Saviour in Jesus. He trusted Him, confessed Him, loved Him, and was filled with a great longing to do something for Him. But what could he do? Tied to a bed of sickness, it seemed as if he could do nothing but lie still and suffer. But love is quick to discover ways of serving its Object, and so, looking to God for guidance and strength, the little helpless cripple said-
“It won’t do to keep all this blessed news to myself;” so he thought and thought, until, at last a simple work was decided on for the Master. His bed stood close by the window sill, which was low, and somehow he got a pencil and paper, and wrote out different texts, which he would fold, pray over, and then drop into the noisy street below, directed-
“TO THE PASSER-BY-PLEASE READ.”
He hoped that by this means someone might hear of Jesus and His salvation.
Generally his texts were simple, gospel ones, but sometimes he wrote a text which had been given him by the Lord for his own soul. This service of love, faithfully rendered, went on for some weeks, when one evening he heard a strange footstep, and immediately afterwards a tall, well-dressed gentleman entered the room and took his seat by the lad’s bedside.
“So you are the lad who drops texts from the window, are you? He asked kindly.
“Yes,” said Tom, brightening up. “Have yer heard as someone has got hold of one?”
“Plenty, lad, plenty! I picked up one last evening, and God blessed it to my soul. I have been a Christian for some years, but lately I got cold in soul, and God used your text and spoke to me by it.”
“I can believe in God’s Word doing anything, sir,” said the lad humbly.
“And I am come,” said the gentleman, “to thank you personally,”
“No me,sir! I only does the writin”; He does the blessing”.
“And you are happy in this work for Christ?” said the visitor.
“Couldn’t be happier, sir. I don’t think nothin’ of the pain in my back, for shan’t I be glad when I sees Him, to tell Him that as soon as I knowed about Him and His great love I did all as I could to serve Him? I suppose you get lots of chances, don’t yer, sir?”
“Ah, lad, but I have neglected them; but, God helping me, I mean to begin afresh. At home in the country I have a sick lad dying. I came to town on pressing business. When I kissed him good-bye, he said, “Father,I wish I had done some work for Jesus”; and the words stuck to me all day long, and the next day too, until the evening when I was passing down this street your text fell on my hat. I opened it and read, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9 v 4 It seemed like a command from heaven.”
Tears of joy were rolling down the lad’s face. “It’s too much, sir, “ he said, “Altogether too much.”
“Tell me how you managed to get the paper to start it, my lad.”
“That warn’t hard, sir. I jest had to talk with Granny, and offered to give up my ha’porth of milk she gives me most days, if she would buy me paper instead. You know, sir, it can’t last long. The parish doctor says a few months of cold weather may finish me off, and a drop of milk ain’t much to give up for my blessed Jesus. Are people happy as have lots to give Him, sir””
The visitor sighed. “Ah, lad, you are a great deal happier in this wretched room, making sacrifices for Jesus, than thousands who profess to belong to Him, and who have time, talents and money, and yield little or nothing to Him.”
“They don’t kno Him, sir. Knowin’ is lovin’, and livin’ and tryin’ to please Him is doin’. It ain’t love without.”
“You are right, Tom. But now about yourself. How would you like to end your days in one of those homes for cripple lads, where you would see the trees and flowers, and hear the birds sing? I could get you into one not far from my home if you liked, Tom.”
The weary lad looked wistfully into the man’s kindly face, and after a few moments’ silence, ansered: “Thnk’ee sir; I’ve heard tell of ‘em afore, but I ain’t anxious to die easy when He died hard. I might get taken up with them things a bit too much, and I’d rather be a lookin’ at Him, and a carryin” on this ‘ere work till He come to fetch me.”
“Well, my lad, then I will see that you have proper food and all the poaper you need while you live. I will settle it with one of the Bible-women. Now laddie, before I go I want you to pray aloud for me.”
There was a bight light on the poor, pale, upturned face, as he said in a tone of the deepest reverene: “Lord Jesus, I know you’re a listenin”, and I’m much obliged to you for sending this gentleman here to cheer me in my work. Now, Lord Jesus, he’s a bit troubled about not havin’ lived for Thee in past days, will you help him to see to it that ther’s nothin’ left undone in the comin’ days; and please, Lord, make him go straight away and tell them other rich men of Thy love. Now, Lord Jesus, please bless this kind friend, all reads and always. I ask this for Thy name’s sake.” “Amen,” said the deep-toned voice.
the gentleman rose and said farewell. Before leaving
News of the dying lad reached them from time to time through the Bible woman, but it was not till winter had set in, and the snow had fallen and covered the earth with its crystal whiteness, that they heard that the dear lad had “gone to be with Jesus.”
The same post broght a parcel which contained Tom’s much –prized and much-used Bible. What a precious relic was that marked Bible in that beautiful home! For when the cripple boy’s friend lent it to his youngest son to read- the careful marking, the short simple prayers written by the cripple lad on the margin, and his dying wish on the fly-leaf, written about a week before his death, that “this Holy Book may be as great a friend to someone else as it has been to me” made such a deep impression on the youth that he got convert4d, and gave himself to the Lord, and later on to mission work in foreign fields; and out in Central Africa he has shown that worn-out Bible to many a native Christian when tellig them about cripple Tom and his texts.
Reader, young and old, have you learnt to know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour? If not, He waits to be gracious – to be to you, little child, and to you, grown-up man and woman, all that He was to cripple Tom.
If you do know him, are you seeking to serve Him?
If a dying lad, in suffering and destitution, could joyfully deny himself the little sip of milk, which cooled his parched lips, and partly fed his weary body, surely it is possible for us to suffer a little, deny ourselves a little, and work a little for the blessed Saviour, who has loved us and given Himself for us.