"I had some money in my room on the table. It is government tax money. Do you know anything about it?" "N-no, Father. I never saw it." "I know that to be a lie, George."
The Amazing Story of George Muller part 1
A Character story about Honesty.
"George, come in here. I want to speak to you." The stern voice of his German father brought a shiver down George Muller's spine.
"I had some money in my room on the table. It is government tax money. Do you know anything about it?"
"N-no, Father. I never saw it."
"I know that to be a lie, George. I have suspected your thievery for some time so I planted that money where you would know about it. You are not to leave until I find it." Shortly George was commanded to remove his shoe and there, in the toe, was the missing money.
But the fact that he was caught only made George Muller want to be more cautious. On one occasion, he spent several days in a hotel, living as if he were rich, yet without any money. He planned to sneak out without paying but was suspected, caught, and arrested. His father was called.
"I'll do better. I promise," George told his father after a hard beating.
"My own son spending four weeks in prison. What a disgrace," His father flared. "I dare say, if your mother were still alive, you would put her in her grave many times over. What kind of a clergyman will you be?"
But the 16 year old boy did not change. George said he was "forming resolutions to become different, yet breaking them almost as fast as they were made." But even the day he was confirmed, George defrauded the clergyman in charge. "Here is the money Father gave me to give to you," he said. But most of the money was in his pocket. "In this state of heart," he wrote, "without prayer, without true repentance, without faith, without knowledge of the plan of salvation, I was confirmed, and took the Lord's Supper, on the Sunday after Easter, 1820." How impossible it is to change our heart without God moving in first!
At age 17, George deceived his father into letting him attend a private school that was not so strict. "I want you to be a clergyman in the Lutheran church," his father had said. "You could have a comfortable living there, and I can spend my closing years with you in the parsonage."
George studied hard, from 4am until 10pm throughout the year. He did well in Latin, French, history, German, and also studied Greek and Hebrew. Because of his improved conduct, the director even held him up as an example to the rest. But George later said, "whilst I was thus outwardly gaining the esteem of my fellow-creatures, I did not care in the least about God, but lived secretly in much sin."
By the time George entered the University of Halle at age 20, his conduct scared even himself. 'If I don't act better, who will want me as their minister?' he asked himself. 'Then I would never make a good living.'
Throughout his youth, George wanted to blame his troubles on bad friends. Thus, he was glad to meet an old friend named Beta. "He was so quiet and serious before," George thought. "Perhaps if I could gain his companionship, I should by that means improve my own conduct." Little did he realize that Beta was thinking, "I am tired of trying to act spiritual. I think if I gain the companionship of George Muller, I can have more fun."
In August George, Beta, and two other friends travelled to Switzerland on forged passports. George handled the money and managed to work things out so he paid less than the others.
One Saturday evening in November, Beta remarked to George, "I like to attend a Christian meeting on Saturday evenings. Would you like to come along?"
"What do you do there?" George asked with surprised interest.
"Oh, we read the Bible, sing, pray, and read a printed sermon."
"I'll go," George responded. Later he wrote, "No sooner had I heard this than it was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life long."
The gracious hospitality of the host made George feel welcome. After singing, a Christian knelt down to ask God to bless the meeting. His prayer, and the fact that he was kneeling made a deep impression on George. 'I cannot pray that well, though I have more education,' he thought. 'And I have never knelt to pray in my life.' On the way home, George told Beta that the evening meant more to him than anything on their 43 day trip to Switzerland. He wrote later, "That evening was the turning-point in my life." That evening George Muller gave his life to Christ.
George immediately began to grow in the things of the Lord. He quit going to taverns, gave up his wicked companions, and witnessed to other students, though at times they laughed at him. But he still had a problem with lying at times and said, "had I prayed as earnestly as I have of late years, I should have made much more rapid progress."
After graduating from the University at Halle in 1828, George was rejected from the military because of a "tendency toward contracting tuberculosis."
Thus he felt free to serve the Lord and travelled to London, England to work with a mission which showed Jewish people that Jesus was their Messiah. During this year, George became very ill and thought he would die. He travelled to the city of Teignmouth to recover. The next year he moved there to be the pastor of the Ebenezer chapel. He also met a man who would be his dearest friend, Henry Craik. Truly God works all things together for good to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
At this time George discovered a secret that was to change his entire life. Shortly before moving to Teignmouth, George heard a preacher who so impressed him that he sought out his company and was able to spend 10 days with him. He writes, "It was at this time that God began to show me that his Word alone is our standard of judgment in spiritual things; that it can be explained only by the Holy Spirit; and that in our day, as well as in former times, he is the teacher of his people." He laid aside other books he had relied on, and concentrated on the Scripture alone. "The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so." Thus, as George spent most of his reading time in the Scriptures, his faith in God grew.
During his 73 years as a Christian, George said he read the Bible through 100 times, and another 100 times on his knees!
Shortly after becoming pastor, George Muller felt the chapel needed a change in the means by which he was paid. To this time, no offerings were taken but the people rented the seats in the church. The rent money was used for the support of the pastor. This brought an uneasiness to George for the practice made it impossible for the poor "could not have so good a seat as the rich." Furthermore, George had a growing grief that other Christians did not live as if God were alive and cared about them. He wanted to show others in the church that God would provide for them when they trusted only on Him.
Thus, George asked that the pew rents stop and that a collection box be placed in the back of the church. Those desiring to give to him could put their money in the box. At the end of the first year, George had received more money in the box than he would have gotten through pew rentals! George said, "We are never losers from acting according to the mind of the Lord."
In 1832 his good friend Henry Craik lost his first wife, and the two men accepted a call to pastor the Gideon and Bethesda chapels in Bristol, a port city on the west side of England. They took with them their commitment to trust only in God. Shortly after arriving, the Mullers rejoiced at the birth of their daughter, Lydia, and a year later their son, Elijah. However, at 15 months, Elijah contracted pneumonia and George knew it was not God's will to heal him. This time, the man of faith prayed that God would take his son quickly, and would uphold his wife, who had just lost her father 4 days before.
Though God did not give the Mullers other children of their own, George had a great love for them. His heart was saddened as he saw many orphans in the alms house where the insane and criminals were also kept. In England at this time only 12 orphan houses existed (none in Bristol), and all but one of these were paid for by subscriptions; a child was not admitted unless a sponsor promised to pay his expenses. George began to ask God to use him to provide for the many children who would otherwise have no home, or means of learning about God.