Just As I Am
Do you ever wonder what it was about Billy Graham that drew millions of people to his crusades? Why did the culture of the day, when it was not okay to talk about politics or religion, make a shift to where it was completely acceptable that people talked about their faith and could successfully invite their friends to hear Billy Graham when they’d been inviting the same people to church for years without success?
How could one man preach essentially one sermon over and over, the simple gospel message that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and Jesus loved us so much he died in our place so we might be saved, draw thousands of people night after night, year after year?
Why did that simple song, Just As I Am, pull people out of their seats, tears streaming down their faces as from the depths of their souls they sang, “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me?”
Was it the supernatural gift of evangelism that Billy Graham exuded every time he spoke? Was it the irresistible draw of the Holy Spirit moving hearts en masse to seek Him? If so, why did He chose Billy Graham? It’s rather gratifying to know that Billy asked the same question. “I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is ask: ‘Why me, Lord? Why did You choose a farm boy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the 20th century?’ “I have thought about that question a great deal,” he added, “but I know also that only God knows the answer.”
The truth is, if we focus on the why, we miss the importance of the calling itself – and Who is doing the calling! You see, when we are compelled to confess our sins and we repent and turn from them and accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are all called by God just as Billy Graham was.
To do what? As a child of God, you and I are given gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is giving; then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. We are also called to love God and love others and to share the gospel story. This is no small calling.
We don’t know how God will use us, do we? Consider Edith Sundquist, one of our family at church. Edith died just 5 days after Billy Graham died. She was almost 93. God called her to a quiet life, a single life, a lonely life in many ways. While Edith’s sister Ruth was called as a missionary, Edith stayed here, diligently and faithfully supporting her sister’s call. Edith’s neat, even handwriting fills pages of our record books as she took minutes of meetings that others led. She worked with her hands providing bandages for the soldiers during WWII. Decade after decade she served in the background, strong, and faithful. Like Anna in the Bible, her church was Edith’s home. This is no small calling.
Some among us may be called to hardship, as Paul was, “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” This is no small calling.
I don’t know how God will use my gifts or your gifts, your life or my life. My prayer is that we will finish this race and complete the tasks the Lord Jesus has given us, and that our eyes remain on the One who has called us, not our calling. You see, your story, your life, like Billy’s, and Edith’s and Paul’s, is a testimony of God’s grace, but it is not the good news of God’s grace. Jesus Christ remains the object of the good news – because He died for us, so that with our sins forgiven, our lives devoted to Him, He ushers us into God’s presence when we die. All of our rewards in heaven will be laid before the throne of God as we see His glory! We owe Him everything. And great or small, our longing to hear one thing remains the same,
“Well, done my good and faithful servant.”
May it be so, Lord Jesus.
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries