Moody's Sinking Ship

Speaking of Dwight L. Moody, (oh, you didn't know I was?  Last Sunday! Where were you?) there was another important turning point in the life of this incredible preacher and evangelist.  It happened in November of 1892 and it happened on board a sinking ship, of all things!  (There was nothing dull about the life of this preacher!)

You know, untold thousands of people came to Christ during Moody's 33 years of preaching, but the last seven years were the most astonishing of all! And some people say that that "shipwreck" was the cause of it all.  Here's how it all transpired. 

Moody and his son Will boarded a German ocean liner called The Spree, in Southampton, England. They were anxious to get back to their home in Chicago after a long preaching tour over there. 

But on the third day at sea—hundreds of miles from any shore—the Spree's engine threw an enormous shaft and it caused so much damage that it punctured the hull! The ship was completely disabled, and it immediately began to take on water. 

"This ship is sinking, Father," is the way young Will Moody reported the news.  He was right. The pumps could not keep up with the gaping hole and, in just a few hours' time, the ship was seriously listing. It was also quickly drifting further and further North, far away from the sea lanes where any hope of rescue might be found. 

There were lifeboats for everyone, but the sea was so terribly rough that no one dared to use them. All they could do was huddle together in the main salon, on the uppermost deck and wait...and hope that some ship might come by. 

For the 283 passengers on board, it was a terrifying experience; including Moody and Will, who suddenly realized that they might never see their family again.  Equally disturbing for Moody was the thought that his work might now be finished. 

On the evening of the second day, however, Moody led a prayer service with all the passengers and crew.  (They had FightNight!) They poured out their hearts in prayer together, seeking a miraculous deliverance from God. 

And the very next morning—wouldn't you know!—at the crack of dawn, there on the horizon: behold! A ship! The USS Lake Huron! To this day, no one has ever explained why the Huron was so far north; so far off the beaten sea lane! 

The Huron towed The Spree over a thousand miles to safety. It was an absolute miracle. 

The incident had a tremendous impact on Moody; and here's why. Back in London, a doctor had examined Moody and diagnosed him with serious heart trouble. Moody was warned that, if he didn't slow down and stop working so hard, he would die an early death. Moody decided immediately to do just that.  He told the doctor that he would slow down. He was 55 years old. 

But that was before the wreck of the Spree!  Moody perceived it as a confrontation with God Himself.  The question confronting him was this: should he press on toward the goal with all his strength and deliver the Gospel with all his might? Or should he grow 'cautious' and let fear diminish his fervor? Could he really allow his passion for souls to be displaced by a concern for 'survival'? 

Right there on that sinking ship, while confronting what he thought was certain death, Moody decided that life was too short—no matter when it might end!—too short to be worrying about survival. He made a vow—while the ship still listed—that if he ever got back home, he would never slow down; even if it killed him. 

Seven years later, it did! But—oh my!—what an incredible seven-year stretch that turned out to be! 

Do you know what they say about Moody's crowds in those final years? They were measured in "acres"!  Head-counts were impossible! 

Do you mind if I ask you, dear ones: How are you doing in your Christian race? Been thinkin' about slowin' down a bit, have you? Getting cautious, now? How unlike Moody! Why would you do it? What, after all, are you now protecting?  

Come to think of it, how unlike Paul! Remember what he wrote?

"One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize which God has called me heavenward to win, in Christ Jesus."  Phil 3: 13-14

What a marvelous example Paul has set for us all! 

Listen, dear ones! You can't afford to slow down. You can't afford to be cautious. And do you not know that the cautions ones always die too soon?  They never really live!  And they do not finish the race!  A 'win', after all, is defined by a finish line—remember?—not by duration, not by longevity! 

You and I are in the midst of a great race. It's a race against time. It's a race to the rescue; a race for eternity. It's the very same race that Paul ran to win; that Moody ran to win!  With the very same stakes, and very same demands and the very same cost! 

Run it well, dear faithful OT! Don't slow down now! Because time is too short and the world is too lost! 

It's wonderful worshipping with you every Sunday!  I know you feel that way too!



See you there!                                                RAS

The Return of Baal!