“The immutable law of sowing and reaping has held sway. We are now the hapless possessors of moral depravity, and we seek in vain for a cure. The tares of indulgence have overgrown the wheat of moral restraint. Our homes have suffered. Divorce has grown to epidemic proportion. When the morals of society are upset, the family is the first to suffer. The home is the basic unit of our society, and a nation is only as strong as her homes. The breaking up of a home does not often make headlines, but it eats like termites at the structure of the nation.” Billy Graham, World Aflame
I was there in the beginning when a one-eyed monster entered the living space of American homes. There was little choice then—channel 10 or 6 (if you turned the antenna a certain way). What ever was on was on and no choices. Billy Graham was beginning his “crusades” and with all he had to say, he always left you know, “God loves you and died for you.”
Television didn't overrun the adventurous spirit of the youth of that day. We still had time with the other children in the neighborhood. When you're in a small town, you know everyone and played kick-the-can, red light-green light and hide-and-go-seek with young and old children alike.
We climbed down into the forbidden cave of our town in the summer and in winter rode the frozen dips in the field below its mouth. There were no girls my age. They were all several years older or younger.
Boys seemed to be around me more and wanted to meet me in the “back alley” when I started maturing. I didn't understand their interest. One older boy, who I would profile as a predator today, made arrangements with me for him to come up to kitchen window on the back porch where I would be washing dishes inside. When I saw him, I was to go out.
Things were going as planned, until I looked up from the dishes and saw this face peering in from outside. I left out a blood-curdling scream and that was that. He skedaddled and no more rendezvous were ever planned. I heard later he took pictures of his victims.
The “petting years” left me unaffected because it didn't seem like anything was wrong to me. Nothing had happened. But I had yet to learn how the locker room talk of the boys would come to earn me a title of someone from the other side of the tracks; poor white trash.
High school was something I endured more than enjoyed and my circle of friends was limited. The children I grew up with had all grown and after school activities and television were becoming more and more prominent in their lives than playing with other kids in town.
By the time I was married and had several children of my own, the “electronic babysitter” was well ingrained into most households. People began planning their lives around soap operas or evening specials and Saturday mornings became a zone-out time as children watched hour after hour of cartoons. Socializing with friends was dying.
Around that time I was back in church, learning, growing and listening. One day, the words of Billy Graham became real. I believed God loved me. In order to do that I had to confess, to own up to the realization that I was a sinner and Jesus had come to make that right.
Scripture began showing me some of the “untouchable” people in Bible time and how they too were loved by God, not because they did anything right but because they believed and made Christ a part of their lives.
I could see the tags people had attached to them both deserved and undeserved: the woman at the well, the adulteress, the Samaritan, and the woman with the issue of blood. Most of them had a sin problem but the last had a health situation making her, under Jewish law, untouchable, because the mere contact would defile anyone who touched her.
Jesus stopped abruptly that day as the woman's hand stretched through the crowd at street level and grabbed unto the hem of his garment. She was dying. She had no hope. She needed Jesus. She made the connection and knew she had made it. She was healed. She had hope. She had Jesus and no matter what anyone would say from then on, that moment in time had cemented her to never doubting what and who she was in Him.
That's what Rev. Graham was talking about. Suddenly you understand you are a child of God, the righteousness of God in Christ, more than a conqueror, his daughter, your sin is GONE and you are free from any tag you ever had placed upon you by yourself or others. You have become a new creature in Christ because his virtue is now yours!
Christ never sees us as white or black, having tats, a failure, drug abuser, drunkard or unworthy. He only looks to see if we are lost or found and the found are not who he came to seek and save. It's the lost that need the message that God loves them and because he does, you can reach out and touch Jesus and he will lift you up.
His love will not erase the past, but it will remove the astigmatism and allow you to function in your new life in Christ Jesus free from any guilt and shame.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9, NIV
Rev. Graham has gone but the truth he preached will continue. Do you need to let go of your earthly troubles and grab unto some heavenly hope? It's true... he is as close as the mention of his name and he is ALIVE!