Friday, March 2, 2018

Souls and Shoes!

It was a sunny, windy day last Saturday, February 24th. I was standing with thousands of people who lined a 130 mile route from Swannanoa, North Carolina to Charlotte. We were all there to show respect to one of the world's most beloved pastors as he passed by for a final time. As the 10-vehicle motorcade approached, the memories flooded my mind. I remember people talking about the Reverend Billy Graham Crusade here in Knoxville. That was 1970. I thought of all the music I had seen and heard connected to the Crusades. I could see George Beverly Shea in my mind standing and singing "Just as I Am." I remember the fiery Billy Graham waving his fist in the air and proclaiming "repent of your sins and God will forgive you." But what I remember the most about this "Man of God" was this simple statement that he said at every crusade: "God loves you!" So simple. Yet seemingly so forgotten.

The motorcade filed past the crowd and everyone lowered their heads and walked back to their cars. It was oddly quiet. I tapped a few rocks with my shoe and started walking to the car. It was then that I thought about what it would have been like to walk in Reverend Graham's shoes. The miles, the people, the stories connected to his walk of faith. I could never imagine walking in his shoes, but I bet Paul could.

Recently, we have been reading the Acts of the Apostles and Paul is a major star in the passages. He traveled from house to house, town to town, country to country, proclaiming God's word. He went by boat, donkey, and he walked. And walked. And walked. And he raised his fist to crowds and told them to repent of their sins, but the bigger message was simple: "God loves You!" It didn't matter if you were Gentile or Jew, God still loved you and wanted you to have everlasting life. I can't imagine the uproar of that day when Paul delivered this kind of message. The scriptures tell us that it angered some so deeply that Paul was stoned for proclaiming such a message, but he survived and went right back to work. I realize that stones were not thrown at Billy Graham, but he rose above yesterday and today's anger and division. He preached above the noise and brought hope to all who would hear. He seemed "anointed" by God and the number of people he brought to Christ bears that fact out. I can imagine that Paul and Billy are together in Heaven talking about who could walk in whose shoes!

During Paul's long ministry, people of that day wanted to hear his teachings. In Acts 13, he stands to speak in Antioch and lays out what God has done for them. He spoke of John who preached repentance and baptism for ALL people. During his lifetime, John had become very popular and some thought he might be more than a man. John quickly answered their questions with this: "Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." What a selfless statement.

As you continue to read the Bible, look for truths about Gods unending love for you. Look for evidence that He has taken away your sin and wants you to be with Him. He wants you to strive to live a life of giving, compassion, acceptance, and love. We all will come short of the glory of God. We know that. We know that sin will creep into each life. But it's what we do with those moments that make the difference. Paul and John took those moments and preached the gospel to millions. Billy Graham took those moments and preached the gospel to millions. You may not be able to preach the Gospel to millions of people, but you can live a life of Christianity. It's possible millions will see your example. You might say that you can live a life for a moment in their shoes! Taking life as it comes and trusting God for your help. That's what Jesus taught us to do. Walk by faith. Try to walk in His shoes, even though we are not worthy to untie His sandals.


No comments:

Post a Comment