A collection of past contributions…
It was against the rules to play the sanctuary piano after hours. Yet I found myself sitting on the stone steps of Philadelphia College of Bible listening to another late night story of Tim’s life. I was Assistant Dean and it was my responsibility to enforce the rules, but this was not the time for that. That evening I chose instead to just listen again to Tim. He was brilliant. Playing without music, the dissonant chords followed impromptu, tortuous tunes that begged for consistent melody.
A younger student came by, passing on the stairs. “Aren’t you going to stop him?” he demanded. “He’s not supposed to be playing that piano.” I invited him instead, “Sit down and listen.” So we sat. And Tim played. Sometimes wildly, as if he were attacking the piano in anger and grief. It went on and on. Then, almost imperceptibly at first, melody began to emerge. First hidden in the dissonant sequences. Then becoming dominant as the confusion of chords gave way to beautifully peaceful tones.
Tim had worked through his faith again. And as he finished, quietly closed the piano and left, I turned to the younger student and asked, “Did you hear it?” He nodded and went on his way to the dorm.
Tim didn’t know we were listening and that I had refused to interrupt his journey.
We are not expected to immediately find the melody, but if we continue playing, the melody has time to emerge, as it did for Tim. We can learn from others’ journeys, and we should listen closely to their struggles and learn how they learned the patience of trust. God keeps His promises. He has promised to see us through our difficult times and help us obtain an eternal perspective, helping us see past the trouble to the enduring heart melody that only God Himself can supply – from His loving heart to ours.
My brother recently bought a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming. One requirement was that the new house would have a full basement to provide a safer place in the event of a tornado.
We grew up in Philadelphia. We didn’t have tornados there, but we did have dramatic thunderstorms which we enjoyed watching from the safety of our garage.
There are other storms we face that are category-5 tornado equivalents. Fearful storms, like potentially terminal disease storms, aging issues storms, family relationship storms, financial struggle storms. How can we weather these? A full basement isn’t enough, and there’s no hiding from the violent winds.
Jesus referenced physical storms in His teaching. For example the parable of the wise man building his house on rock contrasted with the foolish man building on sand. Storms revealed the value of the foundation. The rock is God’s Word. The sand is anything else. So storms confirm the value of our foundations. We can learn from storms and begin to build differently if necessary.
Another stormy occasion was when Jesus told His disciples they were going to the other side of Lake Galilee. They got in the boat, set off, and a bad storm blew up during the trip – while Jesus slept. The disciples forgot what Jesus had said (that they were going to the other side), and they even accused Him of not caring. When we forget God’s promises we might get angry with God about our circumstances. If we are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to remember His promises even during storms. One promise is “I will never leave you or forsake you”.
Peace in the storm? Rest in a sure foundation and remember God’s sure promises. Potentially helpful Bible references offered: Psalm 4:8, Lamentations 3:17-25. John 14:27, and Philippians 4:4-7.
The name Billy Graham has stood for a spiritual presence in our nation for decades. Adviser to presidents from both sides of the isle, preacher at massive Gospel crusades that filled arenas all over the world, even speaking to over a million people at a coordinated Korean crusade outreach in 1973. Billy Graham became a household name for many years as he presented the simple gospel of repentance from sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
Today, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues sharing God’s love and redemption. His son, Franklin Graham, heads Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org), a world-wide relief organization that has accomplished much in relieving suffering in the midst of disasters: “After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said ‘Go and do likewise.’ That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel”.
Touring his boyhood home and the Billy Graham Library and Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, I came upon a little open book on display. It was a young Billy Graham’s New Testament. At the age of 15 he recorded his decision to personally accept Jesus Christ: “Being convinced that I am a sinner, and believing that Christ died for me, I now receive Him as my personal Savior, and with His help I purpose confessing Him before men.” It is signed “Billy Graham, November 1, 1934”. That was just six days before his 16th birthday. He has lived up to his commitment.
So, just like each of us, Billy Graham needed a new beginning. And just like for each of us, it is a new beginning of forgiveness, purpose, and solid hope for the future.
Have you had your new beginning? If not, or if you’re not sure, or if your path needs renewal, visit www.peacewithgod.net. Find out about God’s great love for you. And no matter what your age, start a whole new adventure! An adventure that leads to the ultimate new beginning in heaven.
Thank you, Billy Graham, for your words of hope for each of us. DCH