By D. L. Moody (1837 – 1899)
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ Rom. 8:2.
“I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, and an alien by birth;
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.”
-” HATTIE E. BTTELL.
Perhaps there is no subject in the Bible that takes hold of me with as great force as this subject of the wandering child.
It enters deeply into my own life; it comes right home into our own family. The first thing I remember was the death of my father, I remember nothing about the funeral, but his death has made a lasting impression upon me. After my mother’s subsequent sickness, my eldest brother to whom mother looked up to comfort her in her loneliness, and in her great affliction became a wanderer; he left home. I need not tell you how that mother mourned for her boy, how she waited day by day and month by month for his return. I need not say how night after night she watched, and wept, and prayed. Many a time we were told to go to the post-office to see if a letter had not come from him, but we had to bring back the sorrowful words, “no letter yet, mother.” Many a time as I walked up to the house, I have heard my mother pray, “O God, bring back my boy.” Many a time did she lift her heart up to God in prayer for her boy. When the wintry gale would blow around the house, and the gale would rage without, her dear face would wear a terribly anxious look, and she would utter in piteous tones, “Oh, my dear boy; perhaps he is on the ocean this fearful night. O God, preserve him!” We would sit around the fireside of an evening and ask her to tell us about our father, and she would talk for hours about him; but if the mention of my eldest brother should chance to come in, then all would be hushed; she never spoke of him but with tears. Many a time did she try to conceal them, but all was in vain, and when Thanksgiving Day came, a chair was set for him.
Our friends and neighbors gave him up, but mother had faith that she would see him again. One day in the middle of summer, a stranger was seen approaching the house.
He came up on the east piazza and looked upon my mother through the window. The man had a long beard, and when mother first saw him, she did not start or rise, but when she saw the great tears trickling down his cheeks, she cried, ”It’s my boy, my dear, dear boy,” and sprang to the window. But there the boy stood, and said, “Mother, I will never cross the threshold until you say you forgive me.” Do you think he had to stay there long?
No, no, her arms were soon around him, and she wept upon his shoulder as did the father of the Prodigal son when he returned home. I heard of it when in a distant city, and what a thrill of joy shot through me! But what joy on earth can equal the joy in heaven when a wandering child comes home: The matchless parable of the Prodigal recorded, solely to show us the love and compassion of God who waits to receive into the relation of sonship every wandering soul.”
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899), also known as D.L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.
Dwight Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts to a large family. His father, Edwin J. Moody (1800-1841), a small farmer and stonemason, died at the age of 41, when Dwight was only four years old; his mother was Betsey Moody (née Holton; 1805-1896). They had five sons and a daughter before Dwight’s birth, with twins, a brother and sister, born one month after Edwin’s death. His mother struggled to support the family, but even with her best effort, some of her children had to be sent off to work for their room and board. Dwight too was sent off, where he went he received cornmeal, porridge, and milk, three times a day. He complained to his mother, but when she found out that he had all that he wanted to eat, she sent him back. Even during this time, she continued to send them to church. Together with his eight siblings he was raised in the Unitarian church. His oldest brother ran away and was not heard from by the family until many years later.
When Moody turned 17, he moved to Boston to work (after many job rejections) in his uncle’s shoe store. One of his uncle’s requirements was that Moody attend the Congregational Church of Mount Vernon where Dr. Edward Norris Kirk was pastor. In April 1855 Moody was then converted to evangelical Christianity when his Sunday school teacher, Edward Kimball talked to him about how much God loved him. His conversion sparked the start of his career as an evangelist. However his first application for church membership, in May 1855, was rejected. He was not received as a church member until May 4, 1856. As his teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball, stated:
“I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.”
He preached his last sermon on November 16, 1899 in Kansas City, Missouri. He died on December 22, surrounded by family. Already installed by Moody as leader of his Chicago Bible Institute, R. A. Torrey succeeded Moody as its president. Ten years after Moody’s death, the Chicago Avenue Church was renamed The Moody Church in his honor, and the Chicago Bible Institute was likewise renamed Moody Bible Institute.