DWIGHT LYMAN MOODY, born in 1837, was the greatest evangelist of his day. He preached to more people than any of his contemporaries and was the catalyst of great revivals not only in the United States and Canada but also in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Yet what meant more to Moody than even his evangelistic ministry was his family. He had three children, Emma, Will, and Paul Dwight. The arrival of his grandchildren brought Moody special joy. The first two, Will's daughter, Irene, and Emma's daughter, Emma, were born in 1895. Moody loved them dearly.
The arrival of his namesake, Dwight Lyman Moody, in November, 1897, added to his delight. But no one could foresee that his beloved grandchildren would soon precipitate his final crisis. On November 30,1898, while in Colorado, Moody received a telegram that stunned him. Little one-year-old Dwight, his pride and joy, had died.
Heavy with grief, Moody wrote to the sorrowing parents:
I know Dwight is having a good time, and we should rejoice with him. What would the mansions be without children? He was the last to come into our circle, and he is the first to go up there! So safe, so free from all the sorrow we are passing through! I thank God for such a life. It was nearly all smiles and sunshine, and what a glorified body he will have, and with what joy he will await your coming! God does not give us such strong love for each other for a few days or years, but it is going to last forever, and you will have the dear little man with you for ages and ages, and love will keep increasing. The Master had need of him, or He would not have called him; and you should feel highly honored that you had anything in your home that He wanted.
I cannot think of him as belonging to earth. The more I think of him the more I think he was only sent to draw us all closer to each other and up to the world of light and joy. I could not wish him back, if he could have all earth could give him. . . . Dear, dear little fellow! . . . I have no doubt that when he saw the Saviour he smiled as he did when he saw you, and the word that keeps coming to my mind is this: 'It is well with the child. . . .' Thank God, Dwight is safe at home, and we will all of us see him soon.
Your loving father,
D. L. Moody
The following March little Irene fell ill with tuberculosis, and by August she was wasting away. Moody brought Will, his wife, May, and little Irene into his home to offer any help he could, but nothing could be done to save her. To their great sorrow, Irene died just eight months after her baby brother.
At the funeral Moody unexpectedly rose and spoke of Elijah "waiting in the Valley of Jordan so many years ago, for the chariot of God to take him home. Again the chariot of God came down to the Connecticut Valley yesterday morning about half-past six and took our little Irene home."
Grief weighed heavily on this grandfather's heart, and just four months later D. L. Moody himself was the one who was dying. He revived momentarily and said, "What does this all mean? I must have had a trance. I went to the gate of heaven. Why it was so wonderful, and I saw the children!"
His son, Will, asked, "Oh, Father, did you see them?"
Moody answered, "Yes, I saw Irene and Dwight." Moments later he was with them.