Green Pastures, Quiet Waters

Reflecting on Greatness.

As I write this, John and I grieve the loss of his one-time boss, evangelist Billy Graham. He was a gentle, humble, yet very forceful presence in the world, faithfully preaching the gospel to millions worldwide.

Our time with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was precious to us and we remember Mr Graham with great love and appreciation for the work he did and the way he was with people.

Mr Graham was not just a man for the masses. It is true that his crusades packed stadiums around the world, but he was also the kind of man who would look you in the eye and pay attention to every word when you spoke to him. He cared about the individual. I well remember one particular time after a staff conference, I was relating to Mr Graham how he had impacted my life when I was a young girl. I was a young teen,  alone in my mother’s apartment. Laying in bed that night, crying from loneliness, I turned on the radio and came across Mr Graham preaching. As he spoke God’s love straight to my heart, the great loneliness left and I was able to be calm. I felt God’s presence.  When I told him of that experience, a tear appeared in the corner of his eye and ran down his cheek. He had been moved by the story of one young girl who had been helped by his words over the radio and the fact that now we were part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  I remember that day as “the time I made Billy Graham cry”. He did have a tender heart.

Although he was used to speaking in front of great crowds and was friend and advisor to several U.S presidents and world leaders, he did have fears. When he was asked what his fears were, he replied that one of them was the fear of becoming prideful.  How easy it would have been for him to become so. But he was not. He was very aware of his shortcomings as a human being, having some regrets about how he managed his life. He recognized that he was just a flawed man in God’s service.

Mr Graham was well aware that ministry comes with a price, but his attitude was  “whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”   (Philippians 3:7,8)

By the time you read this, presidents, politicians and several hundreds of people will have gathered at a funeral service to honor his life and ministry. Many will have remarked on the effect he had on the lives of millions.  But that ministry has ended and there will never be another quite like Billy Graham. 

If you are reflecting with a touch of envy on the opportunities God gave Mr Graham and how he was used by God to impact lives, please remember that He has plans for you and I as well. Granted, the Lord may not expect you to stand before the multitudes to proclaim the name of Christ, but the ministry He gives you will be no less important in the eyes of God. For a single mom trying to raise children on her own and teach them the ways of the Lord, the task is immense. That is her present , God-given ministry.  The man who labours diligently at the job, day after day, showing the love of God to those with whom he works, is impacting them in ways that no one else could because that is God’s plan for him. That’s his ministry.  To the college student God has given the ministry of being a light in a very dark place, preparing to go into more darkness as he or she lives for Christ in the setting that God has ordained. Our life situations and jobs are only vehicles for ministry, no matter what they may be, ordained by God to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ by our words, deeds, attitudes and especially our demonstration of Christ-like love.

When we are at the end of life and we stand before the Lord alongside Mr Graham and others like him, if we have been obedient and faithful fulfilled whatever ministry to which God has called us, no matter how seemingly insignificant in our human thinking, we will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  (Matthew 25:23)

Friends, focus your life on obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. Like Paul, who knew that hardship was facing him as he proclaimed the gospel, wrote  “ I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  (Acts 20:24)

B. Klassen