October 8, 1871, a capacity crowd filled Chicago’s Farwell Hall to hear D.L. Moody preach. Dwight’s salvation message went forth supercharged, and Sankey sang “Today the Savior Calls.” As Sankey reached the closing words of the third verse: “…and death is night,” the loud noise of fire engines rushing past the hall drowned out his voice. Then the great city bell in the old courthouse steeple peeled forth their warning alarm.
Confusion reigned in the street as people rushed by. Dwight, recognizing the audience’s restlessness and growing anxiety, decided to close the meeting. Before dismissing the people, Dwight told them to go home and think about what he had preached. He told them to come back the next day to make a decision.
As Dwight and Sankey sprinted out the back door, they glimpsed an angry red smudge in the southwest part of the sky. When the southwest wind rose, the sky became bright with a fireworks characterize as sparks blew and house after house caught fire from the hungry flames. By midnight the ravenous flames had engulfed much of Chicago.
As for those present among the capacity crowd who had come to hear Moody preach, many of them never returned the next day to make a decision for Christ. At that point, D.L. Moody made a decision. From hereon out, he would always give an altar call in every service. Because there may be that incident where a person present may leave the service, not having found God and die and go to hell.94
The great Chicago fire was certainly a emotional shock that deeply affected D.L. Moody. It awoke him and propelled him into fervent operations of divine truth. Sometimes such life shaking experiences are necessary to get us out of our apathy and complacency.
I myself was brought to an awareness of the time related state of human life when a young man with whom I played baseball during my high school years died when driving while impaired by illegal substances. Though he was only seventeen years of age and nevertheless in high school, his life was abruptly finished when he speeded home late one night and cut a telephone pole clear in half. I shall never forget the sadness on the faces of many of my high school friends at his funeral.
Another young man with whom I grew up during my junior high school years died in a fatal accident at the age of eighteen. His death came sudden and unexpectedly. It wasn’t already his fault as his means was run over by an eighteen-wheel truck barreling down the highway.
Life is often like that. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. They who died in the attack on the World Trade Center certainly did not foresee such a calamity coming. My two friends from my youth never expected to die before entering adulthood. Some things are beyond our control and cannot be foreseen, nor prevented. It behooves us consequently to give our lives to Jesus and live for Him daily until the time comes that we stand before Him in heaven.
Preach the good news of Jesus Christ that souls might be saved today lest it be too late!