So, what are you doing for the next 50 years of your life?
In 1944, at the age of 26, Billy Graham was hired as an official, full-time evangelist for a new ministry called Youth for Christ. Then, in 1992, at age 74, after a powerful public life and a consistently pure personal life, he retired from being an official, full-time evangelist. Billy Graham’s life stands as a beautiful outlier, demanding and deserving respect for a number of reasons.
First of all, Mr. Graham was in the same business for almost 50 years. To do that one must really learn the secret of being content—not complacent—but content.
Second of all, he was an extremely public figure for almost his entire life and yet involved in no scandals. Alleluia. To do this, one must really learn the secret of being content—not legalistic—but content.
Third of all, he was a full-time evangelist. When is the last time you have heard about that job? It is so interesting to me that Billy Graham’s job title was full-time evangelist. Maybe there is something to that? Maybe the secret to being content has something to do with being an evangelist?
To be an evangelist one must often speak about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think this could lead to contentment in multiple ways, but one that stands out to me relates the reality of sin. When the first man, Adam, made something more important than God in the garden of Eden, sin entered our world. Since that moment, humanity has been strangled by sin's dark, deathly shadow. All the impossible pain brought about by school shootings, sexual abuses, and the impotence of our leaders to solve problems, comes from sin. The damage sin has wrought in humanity is catastrophic and leaves us with intense feelings very different from contentment.
Yet, when someone is constantly speaking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they are being reminded that Jesus has conquered sin. In sharing the good news about Jesus, they are reminded that Jesus conquered sin by never giving into it, unlike the first Adam; that Jesus conquered sin by going to the cross where He willingly paid the price for all of humanity’s sin, including yours and mine. Best of all, Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate that sin no longer has the final word. If we say “yes” to Jesus He immediately begins to undo the damage of sin in our lives. Adding to that, Jesus’ conquering of sin also makes it possible for us to believe that one day we will see Jesus face to face in a new heaven and new earth, where the stink and stain of sin will be no more. One of my favorite writers puts it this way…
“Upon the sea of glass we’ll meet
At last completed and complete
The tide of tear and pain will subside
And laughter will drink them dry.”
It doesn’t matter what generation, or what nation you are in, there are always heart-wrenching challenges to face. Challenges like what’s happening with all the school shootings in America. Challenges like what’s happening in our society that’s filling up our foster care system. Challenges like the immigration and refugee situation in our world that has some people at each other’s throats, and others breaking the law trying to give their kids what they think is a better future.
We really need more Billy Grahams—people who are living lives of contentment instead of carnality. Men and woman who are so frequently speaking about the life, death, and resurrection that they are not surrendering to the anger, lust, and greed that is so prevalent in our world. We need men and women like Billy Graham, who devote their lives to doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. This is what can help our children, refugees, and leaders learn the secret of contentment and living lives of contentment.
Thank you very much Billy Graham. I acknowledge your example and I vow to try and live like you did.