Close this search box.

May 20, 2007

For the Ragged Little Boy

In the winter of 1917, Richard Forrest went to Los Angeles, California, with the hopes of meeting Lyman Stewart, the man who was founder and president of Biola University. He also wanted to hear Dr. R. A. Torrey preach—the university’s first dean and someone he greatly admired. Through a God-arranged appointment, Dr. Forrest met both men. And within a short period of time, Richard Forrest and Lyman Stewart, who also was the co-founder of the Union Oil Company, had become fast friends.

It doesn’t take long for the character of a man or woman to show through the clutter of the world. Richard and Evelyn Forrest had a reputation for commitment even in the most trying of circumstances. Soon, Lyman Stewart began to support the work at Toccoa Falls College. He and his brother helped to pay off the original mortgage and even gave money toward the completion of classrooms above the chapel. Then their interest towards Dr. Forrest took a different turn.

During a later visit, Lyman Stewart asked Richard Forrest to join him for an afternoon ride. They talked about life, family, and the two schools. As they were driving back to Dr. Forrest’s hotel, Lyman Stewart turned to his friend and said, “We’ve thought about it, and decided to ask you to leave Toccoa Falls and come here.” He was offering Richard the position as superintendent of a school, which by the world’s standards, was much more successful. It was a tremendous opportunity. And it also was a life-defining moment for Dr. Forrest.

Richard knew what God had called him and his wife to do, but he struggled with his answer. Over the years, he had watched Evelyn painstakingly rework donated clothes that had been given to her. He knew the times she had stayed up late at night in order to complete lesson plans for the next day’s classes. Her days were always filled with solving one problem after another in his absence. And there was always the lack and the need for money.

What would you have said? Would you have been tempted by the increase in salary, the notoriety of the position, and the opportunity to leave a struggling mountain school behind? If we were honest, most of us probably would say yes. But Richard Forrest said no. And we are who we are today because he chose to obey God’s call.

Many wrong decisions in life are made as a result of frustration, personal disappointment, and fear. The following day when the two men met again, Richard said, “I hope you won’t misunderstand me and think I don’t appreciate the magnificent offer you have made, but last night I happened to see a picture in a magazine of a little boy dressed up in fine clothes. On the page next to him . . . was a boy in rags, but his mother was with him. The article posed the question, ‘Which one would you rather have?’ The mother said, ‘I’ll take the ragged little fellow because he belongs to me—he’s mine!’ That’s the best way I can answer you, Mr. Stewart.” Lyman Stewart turned to a friend who had accompanied them and said, “I told you that’s what he would say.”

The next day as Dr. Forrest was preparing to leave and return to Toccoa Falls, he received an envelope in his hotel mailbox. In it was a check for one thousand dollars and a hand written note — “For the ragged little boy.” It was signed Lyman Stewart, who remained a faithful supporter of the college until his death. What decision are you in the process of making that could change your future forever? Make sure you ask God to give you His wisdom and when he does, remain faithful to His call. He always blesses those who are committed to obeying Him.

(By Angela Ramage. Taken from the online devotional book Grace in The Wilderness © 2007