I’m sure you’re all aware by now of the passing of Billy Graham this past Wednesday, February 21st. In November he would have turned 100 years old. The bible instructs us to give honor to whom honor is due. This is certainly appropriate when it comes to William Franklin Graham Jr. A biography of his life would require volumes of work. I’m sure that much will be written (and has already been) about this great American icon. I’d just like to add a few thoughts from my perspective.
Billy Graham’s crusades ran on television from 1947 until he retired in 2005. In the early days Christian TV was a rare commodity. With today’s satellite and cable networks we can watch it day and night, but not so back then. I don’t remember watching the crusades, but one incident concerning them stands out. In the summer of 1967 I was working in a dress factory in northeast Pennsylvania. I was wheeling a barrel of scraps through the sewing area when I overheard a conversation between two men. They had viewed a Graham crusade the night before. One man said to the other, “You listen to him and before long you start believing him!” As a true evangelist, Billy had that God-given gift of drawing people to the Light.
If you had ever attended a crusade you would have observed Billy’s gift in operation. He was an anointed speaker, no doubt, but I’m referring to his call to repentance (altar call). He would say something to the effect that it was time to come forward and receive Jesus as Savior. As soon as the words came forth from his lips people would rise to their feet and begin to scramble down the aisles. There was no begging or brow beating. They just came … and came … and kept coming. Who knows how many thousands (millions?) of people came to a saving knowledge of Jesus in the ministry of Billy Graham.
Another marvelous aspect of Billy Graham’s life was his affiliation with American presidents. He was a spiritual advisor for every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. According to Wikipedia, he was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson (one of Graham’s closest friends), and Richard Nixon. Like Jesus, Billy didn’t take sides politically. Instead he built bridges of communication to all ideologies. He insisted on racial integration for his revivals and crusades at a time when that was not “popular.” In 1953 Billy invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach along with him at a revival in New York City. Obviously he was a true ambassador of Christ.
Since his death I heard about an interview with Billy Graham where he was asked about entering heaven someday. He said, “All I want is to hear Jesus say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” There’s no doubt that’s exactly what Jesus said as He welcomed this faithful witness home.
For those of us who remain, Billy Graham’s life and testimony serve as reminders maintain a living communion with God, and to love people unconditionally. We may not have the opportunity to minister to millions as Billy did. But we can live for God in such a way as to influence the family, friends and associates around us. One of those could be the next Billy Graham!
His Grace is Sufficient!
I’ve heard a lot of the theories of what Paul was talking about in II Corinthians 12. People who rarely read a Bible have heard of “Paul’s thorn in the flesh.” Paul’s experience here, plus Job’s troubles come to the forefront whenever immovable faith in God is presented. “What about Paul’s thorn? What about Job?”
Personally, as I’ve read and studied II Corinthians 12 I’ve found reason to trust God more, not less. What Paul learned was how to access the power of God on his behalf. And we’re blessed, because he passed on what he learned to us.
As far as I can tell, the most detrimental problem here is associated with verse 9.
II Corinthians 12:9 [NASB] – And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
The problem is that so many are reading God’s response to Paul’s request for help as “No!” That is clearly not what it says. God’s answer? “My grace is sufficient.” What does “sufficient” mean? According to Strong’s it is defined as “to be possessed of unfailing strength; to be enough; to be contented.” His grace is strong, unfailingly strong. It is enough – more than enough – for any problem we could ever face. It is contented – not worried or frazzled over the problem. Add to this the understanding that grace is God’s ability in us to do what we couldn’t do on our own, and we have ample reason to live confidently.
James 4:6 tells us that God gives more grace. Here in II Corinthians 12:9 we’ve seen that this grace is unfailingly strong and contented. Call on that grace. Lean on that grace. Trust in that grace. It will work for you!
While I will readily admit to you that I’m still laboring to learn to rest in God’s grace, I have recently experienced the life-giving dynamic of this great spiritual force. So I can verify – HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!! Had it not been, well, I would most likely have checked out of this life early. But God … I’m still piecing together what happened, but I know this much, the grace of God rescued me when nothing else could.
His grace is sufficient!