Friday, November 8, 2013

Mine

Because my baby girl making HER decision just happened to coincide with Billy Graham's birthday...

And because Billy Graham was the tool that the Lord used to bring me to MY decision...

And, ya know, because my cousin Shirley asked ...

(HI SHIRLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

(Shirley's mama, my Aunt Buddy, was, FYI, THE most beautiful woman - inside AND out - that I have ever, ever, ever, ever known. For real. Loved her so very much!!!)

I want to tell you a little story.

My story.

My story about MY cross.

Mine.

The year was 1987 and I had just turned 19 years old.  I grew up in a Christian home. And, honestly, I have the most amazing heritage of faith that I can imagine. I grew up surrounded by people who loved the Lord with great abandon.  And, right around the time I was turning 19 years of age, I was beginning to figure out that THEIR faith could not save me.  I remember I had asked for a Bible for my birthday that year and my Aunt Laurea and Uncle Marvin had spared no expense in getting me a GOOD one. A study Bible that I ended up using until it was rag tailed, marked up, dog eared and literally falling apart in my hand. Best birthday gift ever.

Our story, however, takes place about a month after I had received that Bible. I was searching and confused. Searching because I still felt that hole and confused because, hello, I grew up in that faith, shouldn't I know how to get me some?!

I was living in Denver Colorado at the time, going to the church my mommy had grown up in. God had worked hard to set the stage for what was about to happen next.  Ya see, it seemed that the Reverend Billy Graham was coming to town.  I had heard of him but only REALLY knew his name at the time.  But, let me tell you, that little church was all kinds of fired up about that crusade.  In fact, they were putting together a little croup to go see him.

Well, I was social, so I signed up to go too.

I can remember that we were in the nose bleed section of the old Mile High Stadium. I'm talking so high up that I could look behind me and see the parking lot down below.  And, ya know, being so VERY high up there, it was all but impossible to understand a THING of what was being said way down there on that platform. I remember the choir singing. And, what do ya know, I just learned TODAY that my cousin Shirley was IN that choir.

(HI SHIRLEY!!!!!!!!)

I remember a guy coming out and singing a solo "People Need The Lord" ... I understood a few of those words because I remember thinking "yeah, I KNOW I need the Lord ... but how do I GET the Lord????"  And, to this day, that song sticks in my head like nobody's business. My head and my heart.  Little did I know then, but I was about to find out how to get me some.

They introduced Mr Graham and the place irrupted. I don't really remember there being a jumbotron, but there must have been cause I can remember thinking "ummmm ... this guy? He's, ya know, OLD!"

***oh 19 year old self ... you were such a moron!***

Everyone settled back into their seats and he began to speak. Let me tell you that I could not understand a THING. We're talkin Charlie Brown's teacher here... "whah whah whaaaah, whah whah whah..." I looked around and people were on the edge of their seats, hanging on his every word. Every word that I could not hear or understand.  A couple people stood to their feet and raised their hands. I started looking for the popcorn guy! I had no clue. Zero. Nada. NONE.

Honestly, I was a little bored. I got a little distracted with people watching, but I was really not at all into the whole thing. Not like everyone around me was. I tried again, really hard, to listen to the words. And I still just could not understand a thing. I was getting a little tired and hungry and anxious, sadly, for the whole thing to be over. And then it happened.

I felt a presence near me. Felt was seemed like hands on my shoulders and heard an almost audible voice say to me "Listen to this part. This is for you".  Suddenly Mr Graham's voice was crystal clear in my ears. I heard and understood every last word as he said "God looked down through all of time. The past, the present and the future, and saw every sin. Every single sin that ever had been and every would be committed and as grievous as that sin was, He loved us still. God loved us still.  So, the Lord sent His Son - His ONLY Son - to this earth. He KNEW we could not save ourselves. And He loved us too much to leave us here alone, so He sent His Son.  And Jesus came. He came to earth and He lived on earth and He taught on earth and He LOVED on earth. But Jesus did not SIN on earth. He was the only one that never sinned on earth. But He KNEW. He knew that our sin was just too much for us to bear. So Jesus Christ TOOK our sin. He BECAME our sin. And He paid the price for our sin. MY sin. Your sin. EVERYONE'S sin. He took it all. And he let them beat Him and torture Him and spit upon Him. And He let them crucify Him. He LET them kill him because He knew the penalty of sin is death and He would rather die Himself than let US perish. So HE perished instead. He DIED for our sin. He died for us - for you and for me.  But what you need to know today, what you need to understand today, is that If God had looked down through all of time and seen Only one sin. And if He had looked through all of time and seen only ONE sinner. And, my friend, if that one sin was yours. If that one sinner was YOU. If you were the only one who ever, in all of time and creation, who needed redemption, Jesus STILL would have come. Jesus STILL would have died. He would have let them hang his body on that cross. He would have died that horrible death. He would have let them put His body in that grave. And, my friend, hear me, He would have risen again on that third day. And He would have done it all just for YOU. Just for you. Because THAT is how much the God of this universe loves YOU. He loves you with an unending, unrelenting and unequivocal love. He loves YOU. And He died for YOU. And He wants to save YOU. You just need to believe. He offers salvation to YOU if you just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ..."**

And, just like that, his words faded away - back to Charlie Brown's teacher - but what I heard and understood that day, changed my life completely.  They pierced my soul and changed my heart and lit a fire that has never been quenched. I was officially head over heels in love with the Lord. I had found my very own faith.

The next Sunday I sat in that pew and looked up at that big wooden cross hanging against that long red curtain. I looked at it like I had never seen it before. It was brand new to me. Because it was not longer just a cross. Now, it was MY cross.  The symbol of MY salvation.

Up until that day, I would have told you that I was saved and I would have believed it. But I knew that morning that I had not had a single clue what "saved" meant until that cross became personal.  And, now it was personal. It was MY cross. It was my faith. I had, indeed, got me some!!!

And, I owe it all to Billy Graham. I am so thankful that he allowed the Lord to use him the way he has for all of these years. DECADES. He is such a sweet, humble, amazing man of God. He can take the power of the cross and make it real and simple and personal and TRUE.  Yesterday was Mr Graham's 95th birthday. And, he is STILL letting the Lord use him in mighty ways. He has such a burden on his heart for the lost and the hurting of this world - this nation - that he has spent the last year putting together a message. Last night I watched My Hope America and within the first minutes I was in tears. I watched this now frail man impart a message so passionately and so clearly and so personally that it took me right back to those moments in that stadium. And I just wish I could let every single person see what I see when I look at that cross. I wish I could help everyone see it as personally as I have seen it since those minutes.

If you are still searching. If you still need answers. If there is still that hole inside you that cannot be filled with things of this world, please watch My Hope America. HERE is a link where you can find a local listing. And HERE is a link where you can watch it online.  I know you will not be sorry. It is THE most powerful presentation of the Gospel that I have ever seen.  I pray that it Blesses you!!!  If you let it, it will change your entire life.

Thank You Billy Graham. I look forward to the day that I can walk across the floors of Heaven and hug you and thank you personally for leading me to the Lord and to my salvation.  May the Lord Bless you and keep you sir, I honestly do LOVE you so very much!


**I cannot promise you that these are the EXACT words that Mr Graham used that day, but it is how I remember it. I hear it in my head in that soft southern drawl and with his distinctive inflections.

1 of ya left some love:

Amanda Schrieber said...

just beautiful. i love hearing your story. about our Jesus. beautiful.