Morning by Morning, February 22 - Rev. Billy Graham -- Legacy of Integrity
Good morning, Lord Jesus. Help me begin my day embraced by my Father, centered in Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit. ...
"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV).
At age 99, Rev. Billy Graham has fought the good fight of the faith and finished his race, fulfilling his ministry, giving his heart and life to do the work of an evangelist. He deeply inspired me and so many to lay down their lives and follow You, sharing the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, from our neighborhoods to the nations and everywhere in between. All along the way--enduring many afflictions and overcoming many challenges--he lived out his faith with honor and humility, leaving behind an eternal legacy of integrity.
He lived no fairy-tale life in some kind of supernatural immunity from the struggles and battles we all face on our journey through this broken and fallen world, but he did live a faith-filled life as a worthy ambassador of Christ and beloved son of God. I've often smiled at the thought of the famous story of his wife, Ruth, who was asked if she ever considered divorcing Billy Graham and replied with such humor and wit, "Divorce? No.... Murder? Yes!" Thank God for the grace that all of us need--even Billy and Ruth Graham.
In my own spiritual journey into full time ministry, as I poured over the stories and accounts of spiritual leaders and fathers in the faith, I was deeply moved by a story of Billy Graham's frustration with the fruitfulness of his ministry before the famous Las Angeles crusade that seemed to launch a fresh season of ministry. A couple of elderly saints, passionate women of prayer, spoke to him and prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit and fervently prayed for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in his meetings, as the story goes. The legacy of souls saved and lives changed through the power of prayer and the move of the Spirit is life-long testimony to his desperate dependence upon God alone for the fruitfulness of his life of ministry. He humbly reflected that prayer made the way for any success he had.
I had the wonderful honor of preaching one time in the little chapel at the Billy Graham retreat center called The Grove in North Carolina during our spirtual retreat with my mentor in prayer, Margaret Therkelsen. Seeing the old photos and reading all the stories on the walls that weekend moved me to tears in a way that something stirred deeply in my spirit. I felt the same when I was so blessed to spend the night in the bedroom of Evan Roberts, the evangelist of the Welsh Revival, in his childhood home in south Wales. There's something that can move us and inspire us when we honor those who have gone before us, when we welcome and embrace that same Spirit that moved in their hearts to move in our hearts, and when we lay down our lives for that same Spirit with that same message of the Good News of Jesus Christ to flow through us as it did through them. We honor our mothers and fathers of the faith, that their legacy may live on and the work of Your Spirit may continue.
This day, I honor and esteem the life and ministry of Rev. Billy Graham. And I recommit my life to fulfill the ministry You've entrusted to me and are unfolding before me. Lord, give me grace to seek to live it out in humility and honor, in a legacy of integrity, desperately dependent upon You alone. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Be encouraged today! In the Love of Jesus, Tommy Hays