Moody directed this statement to Reuben Archer Torrey when he was a student at Yale Divinity School in 1878, and the young man took it to heart. So much so that he caught the same passion for soul-winning that possessed Moody, later becoming the superintendent of the (current day) Moody Bible Institute and one of the founders of Biola University, as well as a respected author and passionate evangelist.
Fast forward 140 years.
In our culture, we focus heavily on college and career. "Where are you going to college?"Athleticism and musicianship. "How many points do you average per game?"
Physical appearance and academic success. "How many scholarships did you receive?"
Even in the church.
But what would happen if we changed our focus to one that reflects Moody's heart? How much more encouraging would we be, how much more fruitful, if we asked young men and women questions that could alter the course of their futures - because the questions alter the direction of their focus?
"What are you doing for the Lord?"
"How are you using your gifts to serve the church and reach the lost?"
"How do you plan to serve the Lord while you are in college?"
"How will you use your profession to benefit the church and increase the Kingdom?"
"What kind of ministry do you want to engage in with your spouse once you are married?"
Nothing in Scripture instructs us to serve the Lord or the church when we are old.
No verse declares, "Live for yourself when you are young, and then when you are old, get to Kingdom work."
As soon as we are saved - we are to serve. Whether eight or ninety-eight, our spiritual gifts, our strengths, and our skills are to be used for the Lord. The who/what/when/where/how may change, but we best be about our Father's business!
Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.
For consider what great things He has done for you. I Samuel 12:24
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace...
I Peter 4:10
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
One sentence. One simple yet stimulating sentence that forever changed the course of a young man's life. R. A. Torrey intended to be a lawyer, caught up in worldly living while at school until the Lord grabbed a hold of his heart and created within it a passion for Himself, and for the lost. And lives were changed. For eternity.
Warren Wiersbe boasts of Torrey, "He stood like a giant at the time when winds of doctrine were blowing against the church and causing people to stumble and fall. In Reuben Archer Torrey, God proved once again that education and evangelism, depth and soul-winning, need not destroy one another. If a man submits to the Word and is filled with the Spirit, he can have an enlightened mind and a burning heart - and he can reach people for Christ." AMEN!
Torrey himself exclaimed, "I would rather win souls than be the greatest king or emperor on earth; I would rather win souls than be the greatest general that ever commanded an army... My one ambition in life is to win as many as possible. Oh, it is the only thing worth doing, to save souls; and men and women, we can all do it."
May we, like Moody, inspire the young men and women of this generation to do great things for God because we ask questions that will challenge their thinking and push their thoughts toward Christ. For, as Henry Varley said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him."