I love Joni’s tribute because she says it all better than I. I personally and we as the church have been forever blessed by the gift God gave us in the person and ministry of Billy Graham. He was a simple man who seemed to always be there in the back ground of our lives. He committed himself to Jesus and to integrity and teamwork in a way that we so desperately need more of in the church today. His work is now done. The legacy left behind and the torch is passed to us. We pause to honor a the memory of Billy Graham tonight but we must also ponder the responsibility now fallen to us. We cannot dwell on the past because souls of men and women are passing into eternity every moment. Who will go to this generation?
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
Our young people had a very special opportunity this year to give as Christmas gifts copies of the devotional book A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada. First the young people sang, presented the story of Bethlehem and then spent time one on one with about 35-40 residents, staff and family. Of course someone baked cookies as well and there were tears, laughter and joy as we shared together the miracle of Christmas.
Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Luke 10:31-34 NKJV
The man who fell among thieves is a lot like that of the residents in any nursing home. The thieves that caught him by surprise go by various names, such as age, physical disability or disease. People fall into a system where they lose control of their finances, their health and their personal freedom.
Three different people came by the man that day. The first was a priest. He came from a good family, had chosen to dedicate himself to God’s work and was recognized as a leader in his community. But in spite of his opportunity to show God’s mercy, that day he failed. He passed by, saw the need but chose not to get involved. The second man was only a follower of the first, so he simply took the same path – the path of least resistance. Last in line came the Samaritan. This was the man from whom no one expected any help. But when the Samaritan passed by that place, he saw the need, rolled up his sleeves and got involved. He became a neighbor when he became a part of the injured man’s world…
Nursing homes are filled with suffering and it is easy and convenient to hide from it. We hide because we are afraid of the answers we do have have for why God would allow suffering. One part of rolling up our sleeves like the Samaritan is to understand not the “why” of suffering but the “How can I show the love of God” in the middle of sometimes desperate situations in people’s lives. In this short video Joni shares her unique viewpoint on suffering.
“God permits what He hates to accomplish that which He loves” Joni Eareckson Tada