It’s been one year ago today since Billy Graham went to be with Jesus. I remember the day well – the sense of loss, the impact that it had on the church and the world, and the countless stories of how his ministry reached millions. I wanted to write something that day, but I was saddened to read of his passing knowing his love for Jesus affected so many, including me. I also experienced a consuming thought of my own.
The day before Billy Graham died, I had spent some time in prayer and in the Bible and I had a growing desire in me to share the good news of Jesus – the gospel. In many ways, I have been writing about the gospel on my blog since 2011. I have stumbled and tried to share it face-to-face at different times.
The yearning to see more people encounter Jesus for themselves and experience his love for them has been growing for several years. However, on February 20th 2018 it felt like that call was off the charts. I remember telling my husband in great excitement that I felt called to evangelism in some way. I was bubbling with enthusiasm.
Then Billy Graham died the next day.
I couldn’t quite believe it. Maybe that was the point. It was Billy Graham himself who said:
“Some day 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.”
That next day, the day of Billy Graham’s death, I just had the word ‘now it’s your turn‘.
Without that making it sound like I am the next Billy Graham, it confirmed something deep within me. I may not be called in the same way that he was, but I know with every part of who I am that I just won’t be quiet when it comes to Jesus (much to the annoyance of some I am sure!).
It’s been a year since that moment and I have had ups and downs since then. I’ve tried to mould myself to fit the shape of what I see so many of my Christian and non-Christian friends do. But I am not them. I need to quit worrying about what others think when it comes to what I ‘do’ for a living. I need to stop assuming people are thinking about me at all! I’ve got to stop putting myself at the centre of my world – it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.
Bunsen burners and evangelism
Last night, I was getting excited more and more for the gospel again. Then I realised it had been exactly a year since I felt a growing desire in evangelism. Chills went down my spine. OK, that fire has clearly not gone out and it is clearly not going away. I don’t want to ever see that fire go out!
There are times when the call to share the gospel feels like a Bunsen burner. I’m the gas (cue to laugh out loud) and God has given me the spark to ignite. I need the air (his Spirit) to make the flame burn brighter and hotter. Depending on how open the hole at the bottom of the Bunsen is, depends on how much of the air gets through. If the hole is closed, it’s a safety flame with an orange/yellow colour – it is a light. If the hole is wide open, it is at its hottest as a roaring blue flame. Without the flame or the air, I am just gas (cue to laugh – actually, any time I say gas, have a giggle).
If I try and evangelise by doing it in my own strength (turning up the gas), my flame might look bigger from the outside, but it will cool down and eventually starve itself of oxygen (it is not sustainable or effective in the long run). The airflow needs to adjust to the gas flow. I need to be in sync with the Holy Spirit.
The desire to pray for the Spirit to equip and enable me to share the gospel is growing. My prayer is that I will be like the roaring blue flame, but this will only happen if I am open to the Spirit and I stay alight for the good news. I will not compare myself to Billy Graham or any other evangelist, but I pray that I will have the same zeal, the same sense of urgency and be rooted in the Bible as I seek to share the greatest news the world has ever known.
The news and evangelism
Speaking of news, when it comes to evangelism it hasn’t been that great. With half of U.S. Millennial Christians believing that evangelism (sharing the good news of Jesus) is wrong and Anglican churchgoers having a ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith ‘at all and with anyone’, it doesn’t bring a great sense of confidence. But thanks be to Christ that my confidence does not come from this. Nor does it come from knowing that the Church of England are going to be investing in mission.
What we need is more people on fire for the good news, who are open to the Spirit and want to shine that light into what can be a very dark, uncertain world in desperate need of a confident hope. This hope is found in none other that Christ himself who stepped into humanity’s darkness in time-space history and took upon himself every evil thought, word and deed from everyone so that we would be no longer alienated from a holy God.
On that cross mercy and justice met. Mercy because we have been given a free gift to know God as Father. Justice because sin has been dealt with by God himself in the person of Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man. As a holy God who was sinless, he dealt with sin. As a man, he was made just like us, experiencing suffering and temptation.
He is God who stepped into our frailty; he is not some distant deity, but is relational and loving. There will be an end to suffering and evil because Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He is a living God and is making all things new. The time for evil is ticking. It will not carry on because Christ has risen and he promises to return. Because of Jesus we have been grafted into his family when we accept his free gift to us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death. This is a wonderful hope. Will we receive him?
Much to learn
I know that some of the stuff I write might not make sense to some people. There is no guarantee that people will agree nor want to know more. I am not responsible for individuals, but I cannot stay silent. My role is to communicate something of this good news to a hurting and confused world in search of hope, meaning, purpose and something bigger and more than all that is here and now. My prayer is that God will open up hearts and minds to know him right where they are in whatever situation they are in.
I have much to learn. I do and I will make mistakes. I may offend when I don’t mean to offend. I may say the wrong thing or not answer a question that someone has. I may be laughed at or ridiculed for my faith. That’s OK – it’s not about me. But if something I say rings true, gives hope and provides a bridge for someone to meet this Jesus I share about so often, then that is all I could hope for. Wherever you are reading this, know that you are loved more than you can imagine, God sees you and you are not alone in whatever you are struggling with. Know that you are forgiven and can experience the freedom found in knowing Jesus.
If you are interested in finding out more about Jesus or have some more questions, I recommend this website from Christianity Explored as a starting point. If you want to explore the bible in a visual, engaging way and perhaps don’t know where to start with it, try The Bible Project which is a very helpful resource. I have a few more resources over here too.