A Flash From the Past

During my recent trip through the Carolinas I met hundreds of people hungering to live in the reality of Jesus. We had all kinds of conversations with people all over the spectrum of expressions of church life. As part of my time in Charlotte, I was asked if I could meet the family of a man Sara and I met in New Zealand three years ago. He has a daughter, son-in-law and eight grandchildren there. We made arrangements to meet at his office, in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We were going to get a tour and go out to lunch.

Unfortunately the man who arranged it all had to cancel because of sickness in his family. But he wanted us to take the tour anyway, so my hosts and I did. We got the full tour around the place, which is an incredibly opulent facility in Charlotte. Later, we also toured the Billy Graham Museum (pictured at left). As many of you know, I’m not at all convinced we should glorify a man like the world does especially when the life it celebrates was mostly about Jesus and his kingdom. I’m glad we don’t have the Apostle Paul Museum for instance. It might be interesting, but it gives glory to the wrong thing, doesn’t it? That’s not to say Billy Graham has done some incredible things and maintained a life of integrity in a time when such seems to be in short supply with those who are in the big spotlights.

In any case, back to my tour in the offices themselves. At one point we were in the photography library when one of their workers asked if we’d attended any of his crusades. When I told her I had gone forward as a nine-year-old boy at the Billy Graham crusade in Fresno, CA in 1962, she told me she might have a picture of that. Sure enough, she found a photo (see below) of the end of one of those evenings in Fresno.

As I recall my dad was an usher, way up at the top of the tall bleachers on the right hand side. It’s amazing how vivid the memories of that night still are.

Forty-six years ago, who would have known what Father had in mind for me? I remember wanting to go forward the first night of the crusade, but my dad thought I was too young. The second night I was so overcome during the invitation that my dad said it must be time. Having grown up around the Gospel all my life, I know I believed in him before that night. But that was my first willful act to give my life to him.

Tomorrow I turn 55. What a journey it has been! Who knows what still lies in store in unfolding days to come. I’ve never regretted selling out my life to Jesus at a young age. Certainly I had no idea what it meant at the time, and how much I would be stretched at times to stay true to that decision. But I have never wavered in my passion to know him and my willingness to follow him even if that meant I had to disappoint others who didn’t like or agree with what I felt he asked of me. But in the end, right or wrong, I kept trying to follow him even when it cost me.

And I’ve no doubt I’ll continue on that journey to the end of this age and through the ages beyond. It’s been fun to reflect back on my childhood, the choices I made in the face of how he made himself known to me. I’m so grateful we connected early and often.

And I want nothing less for you too! Blessings!

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12 Comments
  1. Stephen March 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Happy birthday, Wayne!

  2. Melbourne Sue March 20, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Aw, happy birthday, Wayne!! How cool to find that photo

  3. Stephen March 20, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Happy birthday, Wayne!

  4. Melbourne Sue March 21, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Aw, happy birthday, Wayne!! How cool to find that photo

  5. Ann March 21, 2008 at 4:34 am

    I had a similar experience … an overwhelming sense of needing to respond to Jesus’ call at age 10. And also, not realizing what all that entailed. But i don’t regret making that decision and following Him now for over 48 years. Even though it seems like many years, i feel like i’m still a child. Instead of becoming more independent, i’m becoming more dependent on Him. But then, it’s a backwards kingdom, isn’t it? At least in our eyes.

    Happy birthday. Now that you’re at the speed limit (55) you can start slowing down. 🙂

  6. Ann March 21, 2008 at 7:34 am

    I had a similar experience … an overwhelming sense of needing to respond to Jesus’ call at age 10. And also, not realizing what all that entailed. But i don’t regret making that decision and following Him now for over 48 years. Even though it seems like many years, i feel like i’m still a child. Instead of becoming more independent, i’m becoming more dependent on Him. But then, it’s a backwards kingdom, isn’t it? At least in our eyes.

    Happy birthday. Now that you’re at the speed limit (55) you can start slowing down. 🙂

  7. Shannon Kuhns March 21, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    What an awesome picture, both literally and figuratively. A 9 year-old Wayne moves forward into the rest of his life. Happy 55th! And may there be many more steps forward in your journey.

    Much love,

    Shannon

  8. Shannon Kuhns March 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    What an awesome picture, both literally and figuratively. A 9 year-old Wayne moves forward into the rest of his life. Happy 55th! And may there be many more steps forward in your journey.

    Much love,

    Shannon

  9. Ruth Lang March 23, 2008 at 7:55 am

    I hope you had a great birthday Wayne! 55, wow, lots of candles ! 🙂

  10. Ruth Lang March 23, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I hope you had a great birthday Wayne! 55, wow, lots of candles ! 🙂

  11. Julie Todd April 6, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I remember going to a Billy Graham crusade in my teenage years. I had already “prayed the prayer” but like you I had not real clue to what it meant. I just wanted to be in heaven with Jesus. I was 8 or 9 years old. I am so thankful that Papa continued to pursue me until I could know what my young heart was looking for.

    I turned 50 this year. Papa has relentlessly pursued my heart.

    By the way, The Shack was AWESOME! Another picture for my heart of Papa.

    Blessings,
    Julie

  12. Julie Todd April 6, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I remember going to a Billy Graham crusade in my teenage years. I had already “prayed the prayer” but like you I had not real clue to what it meant. I just wanted to be in heaven with Jesus. I was 8 or 9 years old. I am so thankful that Papa continued to pursue me until I could know what my young heart was looking for.

    I turned 50 this year. Papa has relentlessly pursued my heart.

    By the way, The Shack was AWESOME! Another picture for my heart of Papa.

    Blessings,
    Julie

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