Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 (NIV).
Usually I write these blog posts the night before I post them. Last night, I was busy calculating my taxes so I didn’t get to write until morning. I take that as yet another proof that God knows what He’s doing and is active in even the little details of our lives.
Word came this morning that Billy Graham has died. I think of a few things when I think of Rev Graham, mostly that I met him once, saw him twice, and turned off the TV when he was on dozens of times when I was a kid. Today I think that 1 Thessalonians 2:9 is a fitting verse by which to remember him.
The words I write and share here won’t reach 2 billion people, but Billy Graham’s did. I’ve never met 9 presidents and witnessed the gospel personally to them, but Billy Graham did (indeed, George W. Bush credits Graham for personally ministering to him in a way that let him turn cold turkey from alcoholism and never turn back). I never traveled behind the Iron Curtain for the specific purpose of talking about Jesus, but Billy Graham did. I never did this or that or one or the other but Reverend Graham did.
So what? Through it all, Mr. Graham was just like you and me. He was a sinner. On his own, he wasn’t worthy to lick God’s bootheels. Without God’s intervention, he was damned. Because of Jesus, none of that mattered. Because of Jesus, Billy Graham got to meet Him face to face today: just like you and I can when our lives are over.
I once went to a Billy Graham crusade; I once met him in person. In those days, that was simply another happening to me, another check box I could fill about having done something for God. I didn’t realize that Graham, as a speaker, was using his platform to tell me what God had already done for me. In time, I came to admire that, came to better understand it. There was no decision for Christ I made other than simply acknowledging what Jesus had already done in full. Yet when that understanding came, it made all the difference in my life.
Today you’ll read a great many things about Billy Graham, then tomorrow the world will move on to its next big thing. That’s how it goes here, and really that’s how it should be. But for today, celebrate the kingdom work of a man who used his time to tell us all “Jesus loves you.” The longer I live, the more I see that’s the most fitting epitaph of all. Rest in peace Reverend and welcome home.
For further reading: Thessalonians 2:10.
Lord, thank You for this good servant.