A couple of years ago, Dan and I were in Central Florida at his 55th High School reunion. After the reunion, we were driving on the old back roads enjoying the day and the quiet, wooded surroundings.
As we drove, we passed a quaint little church, obviously very old but well kept through the years. I love taking photos and the church was so picturesque that I had him stop so I could take pictures.
The caretakers of the church, an elderly couple who lived next door, came out to meet us and inquire why we had stopped. We learned that the Rev. Billy Graham’s parents were close friends with both of this couple’s parents.
The Grahams often spent vacations with them there in that little bend in the road. As youngsters, they’d both known Billy Graham. As young adults, the now elderly couple had married and lived nearby. They were now grounds keepers living in the home of her grandparents.
In Rev. Graham’s first years in Bible college, he would come back to visit with the old friends and go to church with them. They chuckled as they told us that during those summer visits the not yet Reverend would go out into the woods behind the church and preach at the top of his lungs to any animal, bird or butterfly that would listen.
They smiled fondly as they told us that even then, Rev. Billy’s mind was set on one message. The same message that was preached in the woods with sobs of compassion was preached from his pulpit for his entire ministry; “You must be born again.”
They said he had such a heart for the lost and wounded that he would spend hours crying out to God in the woods, for people to know Christ as he did. His heart for the lost was obvious from his youth.
This is the picture I took of that church where the not yet Rev. Graham preached his first sermons out back in the woods; undocumented by any but the ears of nature and God Himself. No pulpit, no congregation, just a young man whose heart was broken for the lost, seeking God for direction.
Each one of us has a calling, maybe not that particular calling Rev. Graham was called for, but never the less—a calling that God has chosen us for individually. Scripture tells us that God knows us from our conception in our Mother’s womb. (Psalms 139:19, Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 1:15-16)
God has plans for my life, your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Perhaps today we should spend time crying out in the stillness, then listening for God’s direction. Only God knows the hearts He has prepared for us to minister to if we’d just—listen for direction.
Prayer: Father, help me to be sensitive to your Holy Spirit and to be responsive to His voice. I want my life to be lived as you planned. Amen.
Psalms 139:19 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Galatians 1:15-16 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.