This past week we mourned the death of one of the greatest evangelists our world has ever known. At the age of 99, Billy Graham went home to the heaven he so passionately preached about. Countless news outlets, social media outlets, churches and ministries posted the message: He is Home! What a glorious day for Billy Graham, for in his earthly death, he met Jesus face to face. Praise God for His promise of eternal life. Billy Graham is now living that reality.
Billy Graham’s family gave touching tributes to his memory and powerful Gospel presentations. One that really caught my attention was a statement from Nelson Graham, Billy’s son. In his tribute to his father, Nelson claimed that Billy Graham was FAT. After getting our attention, Nelson explained.
“My father was F-A-T. He was Faithful, he was Available, and he was Teachable … May we all be that way.”
In just a couple of sentences, a son summed up the life of his father. In just three words, Nelson Graham let us all know what was important to this renowned evangelist and teacher. His father loved the Lord, was present for anyone who expressed a need, and displayed a humility apparent to all who had the honor of knowing him.
In a culture that applauds what we can produce, what we can show, and how many likes we get on social media, this message is quite contradictory. It was a great reminder to me to keep my desires and motivations in check as I make my way in this world. Let’s face it, that is not always easy to do.
We sometimes spend our time and energy attempting to obtain recognition and acknowledgement for what we have accomplished. We strive and complete to earn a prize from the world that says we are the best at what we do. We want to be remembered for what we did well in this life.
Living a FAT life means keeping our eyes squarely on God, his work in this world, and his work within us. In Psalm 37, David gives us a good road map to becoming faithful, available, and teachable.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Often times, I charge ahead with a goal or a dream and ask the Lord to bless it rather than submitting to the Lord and having Him determine my path. This is not the way of someone who is both faithful and teachable.
God offers us more encouragement on how He can guide our steps if we let him lead the way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
As for being present, I have made some changes this year to slow that tide. It means saying no to things, some very good things, in order to be present with those I am attempting to serve. My students, my small group, my colleagues, and my family. For me, being present means not being so overscheduled that I cannot adjust my day to make room for someone who needs my ear. It means spending more time in God’s word than ever before. Breaking busy is hard. It’s counter-cultural. And it’s worth it.
Franklin Graham, another of Billy Graham’s sons, closed his comments with one that gives hope for all who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
“My father preached on heaven, told millions how to find heaven, wrote a book on heaven, and now he’s in heaven. His journey is complete.”
So, feel free to call me FAT. I consider it a compliment.