Enjoying the Journey
Like so many days, I am flying through the Charlotte, North Carolina airport this morning. Four miles from the terminal a private memorial service is being held for the most famous preacher in the world. Billy Graham has preached the gospel to more people than any evangelist in history.
While there are things that Graham said and did that I could not support, I am truly grateful for the way God used him to carry the message of Christ around the world. “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).
- Billy Graham stayed with one simple message. His consistent emphasis was the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not try to become a motivational speaker. He was not a local church pastor. He refused to spend his energy on social efforts. His message was simple and straightforward: Christ came to save sinners and sinners who come to Christ will be saved. “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
- Billy Graham kept himself clean. In an age of impurity and scandal I admire a man who guarded his heart and the testimony of Christ. Only God knows the intricacies of all of our thought lives, but the world does notice integrity. Billy and Ruth Graham honored God in their marriage and personal lives. For this reason alone we should give “honour to whom honour is due” (Romans 13:7).
- Billy Graham spoke out of the overflow of his own walk with the Lord. I read that Graham was often overwhelmed during his crusades with speaking obligations. He later testified that he learned he could not plan every word or spend hours in preparation for every speaking engagement, but he could spend the first moments of the day feeding his own soul and then draw from that all through the day. This principle is invaluable for those who are constantly giving out God’s Word. Fill your heart and mind with God and His Word and He will fill your mouth with truths to share with others. The most famous preacher in history, the Word Himself, said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).
Emerson said that every man is my teacher. In some ways every life teaches you at different times both what to do and what not to do. As people around the world reflect on this good man’s life, I am grateful for the lessons learned. As an evangelist, I want to walk with God, guard my heart, and be true to the plain gospel message.
An older, retired pastor and his wife rode with me to a meeting I was preaching recently. From the back seat I heard this man comment that he wanted to finish well. His words smote my heart. So many start strong. Few finish faithful.
Please pray for me. I doubt I’ll make it to 99. Hopefully Jesus will come for us all soon! By God’s grace, may we all end well.