Just As I Am

Posted by Ruth Beresford on

You have seen the news that Billy Graham has died Wednesday, February 21 at the age of 99. I never went to a revival or saw one on TV, but if you were paying attention at all in the last half of the 20th century, you knew Billy Graham was an influential evangelist for Jesus Christ, and not for any one church. Psalm 25:9 says, "All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies." I read the article in The Charlotte Observer by Tim Funk to recall the path of the Lord that Billy followed. No one who believes in the saving mercy of God through Christ Jesus would doubt that Billy Graham is now with all the saints and angels, surrounding heaven's throne.

Billy Graham was an authentic Christian, not perfect but with great integrity, admired and sought out by many. Mr. Funk writes, "His style and plain Gospel message put off some intellectuals and theologians. But Graham never deviated from his approach. As he got older and times changed, though, his style softened. He went from a fiery by-the-Book conservative Protestant to a friend of other faiths, from a hawk on the Vietnam War to an advocate of nuclear disarmament, and from a finger-pointing voice-of-doom preacher to a gentle grandfather-figure who emphasized God's love."

One of the hymns the great evangelist liked to use during the altar call is a great 19th century English hymn, Just As I Am. Its simple melody reminds us that the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) who takes away the sin of the world (by dying on the cross) accepts and welcomes each of us just as we are. Once welcomed though, we are changed as the Lord leads us on a path of love and faithfulness. The more we listen for God's guidance, the more others can see that love shining in our daily lives. The last two verses of that hymn sings,

Just as I am, thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of thy great love
the breadth, length, depth, and height to prove.
Here for a season, then above:
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

In closing his tribute of this great Christian, Tim Funk quotes Billy Graham, "I have been asked: 'What is the secret?' Graham told interviewers. 'Is it showmanship, organization, or what?' The secret of my work is God. I would be nothing without him." But why had God chosen him, a farm boy from Charlotte?

Graham's answer: "That's one of the questions I'll ask the Lord when I see him."

May he rest in peace and rise in glory, and may we walk the path of love and faithfulness, sharing the news that Christ Jesus is our Lord; our way, and truth, and life.

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