Dwight Moody was born in Massachusetts in 1837 to an extremely poor family. His father died when he was little, leaving his mother to support a large family. Having no other recourse, his mother sent him off at a young age to work for his food, housing, and education. At 17 he moved to Boston, where he was promptly turned down for dozens of jobs. He finally accepted a position at his uncle’s shoe store, on the condition that he attend church every week. While he followed this stipulation, let’s just say his enthusiasm for church was not exactly great. As his Sunday School teacher recounted:
“I can truly say that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to serve of any public usefulness.”
Yet, God began working in Dwight, and he soon became not only a believer, but felt called to ministry. Despite lacking virtually every traditional skill of a pastor (and being only semi-literate) Moody began his ministry career. As he would later put it, he entered the ministry with only a Bible and his character. Yet, over his time in ministry, he would become one of the leading evangelists in American history. Crowds of over 20,000 came to hear him preach, and hundreds of thousands were reached through his ministry. Owing to his own struggles with illiteracy he developed a wordless Bible to teach the gospel to the illiterate. This wordless Bible would be adapted by missionaries for use around the globe and has been used to reach MILLIONS of people with the gospel. Moody may not have had a lot of skills and gifts, but what he did have he fully used for God.
We see a similar lesson taught to the prophet Jeremiah:
I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘but I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:4-8
I share all this because I often hear people share that God can’t fully use them because they are only ______. They are too young, not intelligent enough, not a good speaker, not a good student, only a farmer/laborer/mechanic/etc. Yet, history and the Bible is chocked full of instances of God using people with limited gifts and abilities. And you know why that is? Because ALL humans have limited gifts and abilities. We are all “only” something. What is important is that we reach the conclusion that Dwight Moody and Jeremiah did, and use the “only” that we do have to be a blessing.