1984. Student days. We drove all the way from Exeter to Bristol to see Billy Graham. Over 90 miles. I’ll never forget the scene. Huge stadium, filled to bursting with people but the weather was terrible. It was pouring with rain and we sat, bedraggled, in our seats, watching the great evangelist do his thing.
To be perfectly honest, he was rather a disappointment. I had always heard that he was a fiery preacher, that he would harangue us with heaven and hell and blitz us from our seats. He did none of that. His message was simple, straightforward, almost ‘boring.’ I had heard it all before – I’d been a Christian for over ten years by then.
And after twenty minutes, he wrapped it all up. Only twenty minutes?! We’d driven for hours to be there. Twenty minutes? Surely there was more. But there wasn’t. He was finishing up.
It was decision time.
And it was a simple call. Drenched to the bone in front of the massed crowd, he simply called people forward. No way, I thought. He’s not done enough. Will it be embarrassing if no one goes forward? What will they do?
But for the rest of my life, I will never forget what happened next.
They streamed forward. Thousands upon thousands of them. A flood of people surging forward, responding to the call. I remember watching in awe of what was taking place. Surely a twenty minute talk couldn’t produce that kind of effect.
Of course it couldn’t. No one can produce that kind of effect.
It send shivers up my spine to this day. To see what happens when God turns up and touches hearts. Billy Graham was used to this kind of thing happening. He’d been watching God touch hearts for decades and all he had to do was turn up himself. Be faithful. Preach the Word. God would do the rest.
What an awe-inspiring partnership.
As he passes into history, we remember Billy Graham not for his talents – of which he had many – but for the two richest virtues of the spiritual life:
Obedience and faithfulness.
He turned up. He was faithful. He played his part.
God did the rest.
Thank you, Dr. Graham for your faithfulness.
To God be the glory.