Last week my church held three nights of revival. According to Merriam-Webster, revival is “an act or instance of reviving: the state of being revived, such as a renewed attention to or interest in something.” Thus, it would seem quite appropriate for churches to hold revivals, to renew the interest in current congregants and to attract others to worship.
I’m sure many of you, like me, admire and respect the departed Rev. Billy Graham. Billy Graham is known for revivals of faith around the world, beginning in 1947 and ultimately reaching an estimated 215 million people from 185 countries, from those living in poverty to world leaders. His crusades drew millions of people together to share their belief in God and salvation. When Billy Graham passed away at age 99 on Feb. 21, 2018, writer Leah Silverman documented 15 of Billy Graham’s Most Powerful Quotes for Town & Country magazine online. I wanted to share five of those with you here:
“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
“God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.”
“Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart.”
“The great question of our time is ‘Will we be motivated by materialistic philosophy or by spiritual power?’ ”
“I think it is a sin to look at another person as inferior to yourself because of race or because of ethnic background, and I think the greatest thing to do is to pray that God will give you love for them, and I do.”
If you have never been to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, I highly recommend it. My husband and I toured the facility and were amazed to take this journey through Billy Graham’s life and ministry. In addition to the library, you are able to tour the Graham Family Homeplace, where Billy Graham lived from age 9 until he went to college. You can also take a moment for peaceful reflection in the Memorial Prayer Garden, where Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, are buried. The stones marking their graves are rough-hewn and quite simple, reflecting a beautiful humility.
The inscription on Billy Graham’s stone is a simple bit of scripture, “Preacher of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (John 14:6). I am particularly drawn to Ruth Bell Graham’s inscription, “End of Construction — Thank you for your patience.” I like that because I believe that our lives are the construction of ourselves as human beings and that we are constantly building and remodeling aspects of our lives and ourselves to help us grow spiritually and as fellow members of humanity.
I missed one night of our church’s revival and almost missed the second had I not been in a meeting immediately prior to revival with a fellow church member. She reminded me about the service, and, though I went a bit begrudgingly, having worked all day with a meeting after work and not being able to go home for supper, my heart softened immediately, as I approached the church and saw the beauty of Christ’s image depicted in stained glass, glowing softly in the ebbing twilight. I thoroughly enjoyed the service, which that night centered around prayer. I’m a firm believer in prayer or quiet meditation of the spirit, no matter your belief system. I think we all need quiet times of reflection and mindfulness in our daily lives. I have these moments when I take my daily walks and thank God for his creation, focusing on the beauty instead of the tragedy and vanity of the world.
The last night of revival we had a wonderful praise and worship band called The Joyful Noise Boys share loving messages of God and faith through music. The group traveled to us from the Raleigh area. They wanted no payment for themselves, only asking for a love offering for their ministry to establish water wells in Africa. What a precious gift to share time and talents with others in joyful and uplifting celebration.
I’m not here to force my beliefs on anyone, but I truly think we all need to believe in something bigger and of higher purpose than ourselves. We need to have faith in the greater good and of something better waiting after our time in this world is done. We need to revive in ourselves kind hearts and kindred spirits with our fellow human beings while we are here.
I leave you with words much more profound than my own: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Christina Wells lives in Halifax with her husband, Bruce, and their dog, Sunny.