My mother made sure the television was tuned, one evening in the mid-60’s, to Rev. Graham’s crusade sermon. His crusades were ‘must see tv’.
I recall hearing the usual invitation Rev. Graham issued to those there and at home to ‘come forward’ in faith. That night, for reasons I do not know, I quietly left the living room and climbed the stairs where I knelt at my bedside and prayed. I recall that it was that night, in that room, on my knees, that I understood that God forgave me for my sins because of the work of Jesus Christ, and I offered my life to God, having no idea what that would mean.
There is nothing unique in my story. It is a story repeated millions of time around the world, only the names and places being different. That the Holy Spirit used the preaching of Billy Graham to change the life of millions of ‘Billy T’s’ is unique, and yet, if you ask Rev. Graham, he was not to be praised. He was simply the instrument which the Spirit used. ‘Don’t make a big fuss about it’, Rev. Graham would be sure to say.
The morning the news of Rev. Graham’s death broke a friend of mine in California was golfing with someone who remarked that she wished she was in heaven that day. My friend asked her why, and she responded, “I imagine it’s quite the reception they are giving Billy Graham in heaven!”
More likely, Rev. Graham simply joined the crowd of saints marching in that day as they gathered to cheer the news that some little girl heard mother or grandmother read to her about God’s love, or that father or grandfather, while out fishing, told some little boy about Jesus’ fishing, and that little child understood for the first time, ‘Jesus loves me’.
The ‘audience’ we each are given is different, one friend, one spouse, one child. To a few the audience is millions. All God asks is that we each ‘preach’ to the audience God gives us. Then, when we march in, we too will hear the words Rev. Graham longed to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And to that may I add, “Thank you, Billy Graham.”