Notes from Jan

Every Head Bowed, Every Eye Closed

February 24, 2018

Billy Graham and I grew up together.

Not literally, since he’s 22 years older, but in the sense I don’t recall life without Billy Graham and his invitation to get out of your seat, and walk down a literal or spiritual path to follow Jesus. More than once,  after watching him, while adjusting the rabbit ears on our black and white television,  listening on radio or attending a crusade, I bowed my head, closed my eyes and rededicated my life to live the way Jesus calls me to live.

The hymn, Just As I Am, evokes images of Billy Graham standing behind a pulpit, praying while aisles fill with people drawn to Christ through the simple Gospel message of God’s love and gnawing need to be forgiven and loved  just as we are.

Even now, as I recall the lyrics, I’m drawn to Jesus,  not to Billy Graham.

“Just as I am, though tossed about

With  many a conflict, many a doubt;

Fightings within, and fears without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

In recent years, I’ve become increasingly reticent to be identified with the word evangelical in its politicized and narrowly defined caricatures.  However,  I am not ashamed of the Gospel preached by Billy Graham.  With the exception of a few political missteps, he counseled and pastored the powerful without being hooked by its lures.

Billy’s basic stance espoused a centrist viewpoint, encouraged a desire to listen and learn, to risk and reach across divides, and create middle ground for Christians who shunned the extreme right of the fundamentalists and questioned the muddles of liberalism. I liked this sacred middle ground with room to think, question, listen and learn. Still do.

Perhaps the recent mass killings in Florida and death of Billy Graham give cause to consider our ways. Is God calling Christ-followers to  get out of our seats,  heads bowed as we move across aisles in Congress, in our churches and families, to be reconciled, to make our way down a literal or spiritual aisle, rededicating ourselves to living out the greatest of the commandments?   Jesus commands”Love God and your neighbor (all people), as you love yourself”(Luke 10:25-37) and do what’s required, ” act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”? (Micah 6:8 NIV)

It’s Jesus, not Billy, praying and waiting, while angels and saints sing another verse, offering us second helpings of Grace, inviting us to “Come.”

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  • Reply Ruth S. Wacome February 24, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Beautifully said, Jan. His impact on the world with the gospel will long be remembered. It was my joy to be involved with two Boston crusades, and then , as in his death now, his only desire was to serve and give honor to the Lord he loved so deeply.

  • Reply Myrna February 24, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Well said Jan. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you for taking time to read and respond, Myrna.

  • Reply Peggy Hothem February 24, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Amen and Amen!! May the Lord be merciful and lift up the next generation to be willing to bow their knees and come to the cross of Jesus!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 26, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      This may be one of those times when the younger generation will help the rest of us “get out of our seats” and be who God’s called us to be and do what’s required.

  • Reply Rita Smith Dove February 24, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Well said, as usual, Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 26, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      Always love connecting with a sister in the south. Thanks for staying in touch, Rita.

  • Reply Darlia Conn February 25, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Beautifully expressed Jan. I love your thinking and your writing!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 26, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Thank you, Darlia, for your encouragement. Thinking of you and Paul as you enter the final stretch of another year at Lee. May it be blessed by the One you love and serve together.

  • Reply Darlia Conn February 25, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Beautifully expressed Jan. I love your thinking and your writing!

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