Pastor Blake Williams
Missions & Outreach Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” – Billy Graham
This morning Billy changed his address. He is now residing with his Savior, King, and
friend. For the vast majority of the last 99 years Billy Graham spent his time telling people about the incredible gift of salvation, found only in Jesus Christ. It’s been estimated that over 3 million people came to know the Lord through his life and ministry. Let that sink in for just a minute. 3 million people. That’s more than double the population of Phoenix proper. It is also staggering to think that those estimates are really only including his crusades where the results were somewhat measurable. Factor in all of the families that were subsequently led to the Lord and it’s feasible that there were closer to 10-15 million people who came to know Jesus because of this man’s ministry.
Yet when He was asked whether he had any regrets, do you know what his answer was? “I wish I would have preached the Resurrection more.” This is a man who was truly sold out for the gospel of Jesus, spent decades traveling the world to share about it, and the only regret he has is that he wished he could do it more! I love that.
There are a few things from Billy’s life that have shaped my ministry profoundly. One of them was the first story I ever heard about him while I was in high school. Our YoungLife leader was talking about purity and how hard we will have to fight for it. He was talking about 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, which says: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” He told a story of Billy traveling in another city and at night was getting in a cab. There was a couple who was trying to put him in a compromising situation by getting into the cab with him, a woman taking off her coat (which was her only clothing), and the man taking a picture of the two of the together.
They had no such luck. Before a picture could be taken Billy was out of the cab and
sprinting in the other direction. He fled far and fast. Throughout the course of his life and ministry I’m sure there were many such stories but he did all he could to live above reproach. In each hotel he stayed in he asked them to remove the TV or at the very least turn off the cable so he had no temptations arising from TV. He would travel with male companions to keep him accountable. In any and every way he could, he would protect that which God desired for him to protect.
Another transformative quote from Billy that has shaped much of the way I live my life is this: “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I’ve shared the quote countless times with countless people because of the profundity of the words. We are never in a place to convict or judge other people, the Bible is quite clear on that. Yet, we spend an inordinate amount of our time doing jobs that were intended only for God. If we would simply apply this simple truth, in conjunction with the great commandment, our lives would be simpler, happier, and overflowing with love. I don’t know about you, but that’s the type of life I’d love to live.
Billy has some other simple encouragements for us, but rather than me writing them I’d rather share the video that was made for his 99th birthday: Here
No matter what role you find yourself filling, I hope you’re able to do it with this type of intentionality. We can’t all be Billy Graham, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live our life with the same kind of gospel witness. There are people in your home, workplace, or neighborhood that will never get to hear a message from Billy Graham, but they can hear you. Be salt and light to all those God puts in front of you, so at the end of your days, you can hear what Billy heard today, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”