Over the next eleven months, Dwight listened to sermon after sermon from Dr. Edward Norris Kirk. The church itself had been formed twelve years earlier by Bostonians unhappy with the rigid doctrinal exclusiveness of another large city church. Pastor Kirk emphasized the sinfulness of man and man’s inability to save himself.Man is like a lost sheep going his own way. He spoke of Christ’s death on the cross for all mankind, of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and of Christ’s desire to be the friend of each one who trusted Him. On the other hand, the minister issued dire warnings to all who refused so great a salvation, and he verbally assaulted those who failed to do so.
Over the next eleven months as Pastor Kirk’s messages and Edward Kimball’s teaching combined in Dwight’s mind he found himself caught up in a spiritual struggle: “I thought I would wait till I died and then become a Christian. I thought if I had the consumption or some lingering disease, I would have plenty of time to become one, and in the meantime I would enjoy the best of the pleasures of the world.”
Repeatedly stressing that the spiritual issue was one of choice and of yielding one’s will to Another, Kirk emphasized that this choice led to a life of faith. Young Dwight sensed the minister was right, yet seemed unable to yield his will to God.
Then in April,Mount VernonChurchheld a revival. And on Saturday, April 21, 1855, Edward Kimball resolutely decided to speak to his recalcitrant Sunday school pupil about his soul.
Arriving at the store, he found that Dwight was in the back, wrapping shoes. He didn’t want to embarrass him, however, and almost had decided to come back at a more convenient time. “I began to wonder whether I ought to go just then during business hours,” he latter reported. And I thought maybe my mission might embarrass the boy, that when I went away the other clerks might ask who I was, and when they learned might taunt Moody and ask if I was trying to make a good boy out of him. Then, I decided to make a dash for it and have it over at once.”
Going over to Dwight in the back of the shoe store, “I placed my hand on his shoulder, leaned over, and placed my foot on a shoe box.”
Kimball looked into Dwight’s eyes and “asked him to come to Christ, who loved him and who wanted his love and should have it.”
Dwight’s struggle came to a head, and he surrendered his will to God’s will and came to Christ through Kimball’s invitation.
“My plea was a very weak one,” Kimball observed later, “but I was sincere.” He also realized, “The young man was just ready for the light that broke upon him. For there, at once, in the back of that shoe store inBoston, Dwight gave himself and his life to Christ.”
The following morning as he left his room, Dwight’s happiness and peace knew no bounds. The wide grin on his face and the fresh sparkle in his big brown eyes reflected his newfound joy. He sensed, “The old sun shone a good deal brighter then it ever had before—I felt that it was just smiling upon me; and as I walked out upon Boston Common and heard the birds singing in the trees, I thought they were all singing a song to me.”
As he marched along, it seemed all creation cheered him on his way, and he sensed that “I had not a bitter feeling against any man, and I was ready to take all men to heart.” (Harvey,Moody28-30)