THE OLD JUDGE CONVERTED
I remember, as I was coming out of the daily prayer meeting in one of our American cities a few years ago, a lady said she wished to speak to me; her voice trembled with emotion, and I saw at once that she was heavily burdened by something or other. She said she had long been praying for her husband, and she wanted to know if I would go to see him; she thought it might do him some good. What is his name? "Judge - ," and she mentioned one of the most eminent politicians in the State.
"I have heard of him," I said; "I am afraid I need not go, he is a booked infidel; I cannot argue with him."
"That is not what he wants," said the lady. "He has had too much argument already. Go and speak to him about his soul." I said I would, although I was not very hopeful.
I went to his house, was admitted to his room, and introduced myself as having come to speak to him about salvation. "Then you have come on a very foolish errand," said he; "there’s no use in attacking me, I tell you that. I am proof against all these things, I don’t believe in them."
Well, I saw it was no use arguing with him; so I said, "I’ll pray for you, and I want you to promise me that when you are converted you’ll let me know."
"Oh, yes, I’ll let you know," he said in a tone of sarcasm. "Oh, yes, I’ll let you know when I’m converted!"
I left him, but I continued to pray for him. Some time subsequently I heard that the old judge was converted. I was again preaching in that city a while after that, and when I had done talking the judge himself came to me, and said: "I promised I’d let you know when I was converted; I have come to tell you of it. Have you not heard of it?"
"Yes; but I would like to hear from you how it happened."
"Well," said the judge, "one night, some time after you called on me, my wife had gone to the meeting; there was no one in the house but the servants. I sat by the drawing-room fire, and I began to think: Suppose my wife is right, that there is a heaven and a hell; and suppose she is on the right way to heaven, where am I going? I just dismissed the thought. But a second thought came: Surely He who created me is able to teach me. Yes, I thought, that is so. Then why not ask Him? I struggled against it, but at last, though I was too proud to get down on my knees, I just said, ’Father, all is dark; Thou who created me canst teach me.’
"Somehow, the more I prayed the worse I felt. I was very sad. I did not wish my wife to come home and find me thus, so I slipped away to bed, and when she came into the room I pretended to be asleep. She got down on her knees and prayed. I knew she was praying for me, and that for many long years she had been doing so. I felt as if I could have jumped up and knelt beside her; but no, my proud heart would not let me, so I lay still, pretending to be asleep. But I didn’t sleep that night. I soon changed my prayer; it was now, ’O God, save me; take away this terrible burden.’
"I didn’t believe in Christ even yet. I thought I’d go right straight to the Father Himself. But the more I prayed I only became the more miserable; my burden grew heavier. The next morning I did not wish to see my wife, so I said ’I was not well, and wouldn’t wait for breakfast.’ I went to the office, and when the boy came I sent him home for a holiday. When the clerks came I told them they might go for the day. I closed the office doors: I wanted to be alone with God. I was almost frantic in my agony of heart. I cried to God to take away this load of sin. At last I fell on my knees, and cried, ’For Jesus Christ’s sake take away this load of sin.’ At length I went to my wife’s pastor, who had been praying with her for my conversion for years, and the same minister who had prayed with my mother before she died. As I walked down the street the verse that my mother had taught me came into my mind, ’Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ Well, I thought, I have asked God, and here I am going to ask a man. I won’t go.
"I believe I am a Christian. I turned and went home. I met my wife in the hall as I entered. I caught her hand, and said, ’I am a Christian now.’ She turned quite pale; she had been praying for twenty-one years for me, and yet she could not believe the answer had come. We went into our room, and knelt down by the very bedside where she had so often knelt to pray for her husband. There we erected our family altar; and for the first time our voices mingled in prayer. And I can only say that the last three months have been the happiest months ever I spent in my life."
Since then that judge has lived a consistent Christian life; and all because he came to God, asking for guidance.
(From a sermon by Dwight L. Moody, Christ All in All, 10/26/2009)
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