Dwight L. Moody, badly overweight, grew ill in Kansas City, canceled his engagements, and returned home to Northfield, Massachusetts. He lugged himself up to his bedroom to dress for dinner but felt so exhausted that he took to bed. He declined quickly, and it became clear he was dying of “fatty degeneration of the heart.” On December 22 he suddenly opened his eyes and spoke clearly: “Earth recedes! Heaven opens before me.” His son, sitting near him, suggested he was dreaming. “This is no dream, Will,” Moody replied. “It is beautiful! It is like a trance! If this is death, it is sweet! God is calling me, and I must go!”

The family gathered around. “This is my triumph!” said Moody. “This is my coronation day! I have been looking forward to it for years.” His face suddenly lit up. “Dwight! Irene! I see the children’s faces!” (Dwight and Irene were his recently deceased grandchildren.) Moody closed his eyes and appeared unconscious. Then he spoke again. “No pain! No valley! If this is death, it’s not bad at all! It’s sweet!”

A little later he raised himself on an elbow and exclaimed, “What does all this mean? What are you all doing here?” His wife explained he had not been well. Moody fell back on the bed and said, “This is very strange! I’ve been beyond the gates of death to the very portals of heaven, and here I am back again. It is very strange.”

Then he said, “I’m not at all sure but that God may perform a miracle and raise me up. I’m going to get up and sit in that chair. If God wants to heal me by a miracle, all right; if not, I can meet death in my chair as well as here.” To everyone’s shock, Moody rose, walked across the room, and sat in an easy chair. But he soon returned to bed exhausted, spoke tenderly to them some more, and finally slipped on to heaven. His funeral was conducted at 10 a.m. on December 26, 1899, by C. I. Scofield, and he was laid to rest atop Northfield’s Mount Hermon.

But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Dec. 26.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

795 – Election of Leo III as pope. Five years later he crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor.

1790 – Sattyanadan Pillai (also spelled Satyanathan), was ordained the first Tamil missionary of the Lutheran Church in India. Sattyanadan served as pastor-teacher in Tirunelveli and was one of the leaders in a movement of mass conversion of Indians to Christianity.

1912MacKay Memorial Hospital is established in Taipei in honor of Presbyterian missionary George Leslie Mackay, founder of a clinic which became the basis of the hospital. It will develop into one of the largest medical centers in Taiwan and will retain deep Presbyterian roots.

1968 – Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette dies in Oregon. His most famous book was his seven-volume History of the Expansion of Christianity.

*Information retrieved from Christianhistoryinstitute.org.

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