If the number of people who have ever attended a Billy Graham crusade were to form a nation, it would be the world’s fifth largest, at 210 million. Such a nation would probably improve the world, as Billy Graham clearly has. His New York crusade last June was to be his final big event (see story on Page 3), although he recently appeared with his son, Franklin, at a “Festival of Hope” for people struck by Hurricane Katrina. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease, as well as prostate cancer and bouts of pneumonia.
After 35 years of shooting for newspapers and magazines and freelancing for various ministries, you’d think I’d be pretty blasé about another big event, but the weight of covering Billy Graham’s “last hurrah,” his final crusade in New York, gave me butterflies. I knew it couldn’t be anxiety because the Bible tells us to be “anxious for nothing, but to pray about everything.”
Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
— Deuteronomy 8:14-18
“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:32)
The fifteenth chapter of Luke tells us about God’s grace through the special stories about a lost sheep and a wayward son. Both parables show us that the only way for man to be reconciled to God is through His accomplishment, not ours.
Without the good shepherd, the sheep would have stayed lost. But the shepherd pursued and rescued the sheep — and rejoiced afterward.