My story with sweet Billy began at the age of five. I was a BIG Psalty the Singing Songbook fan, so my parents took my sister and me to the Billy Graham crusade in Toronto, where we would sing and dance with none other than Psalty himself (along with thousands of other kids like me… but really, we were all about the Psalt-man).
To be honest, I don’t really remember much about that day; it was undoubtedly full of songs, dramas, and gospel truth. But the one thing I DO remember–as vividly and powerfully as ever–is standing front of the stadium stage with my family, as both me and my sister accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts forever. I remember knowing what that decision meant–that it was a big deal, and that God was going to do something great in me. But what I remember most is turning around in that crowded stadium pit and seeing my parents, smushed by the thousands around them, praying behind us with thick, wet tears pelting down their faces. I remember being a little scared as a five year old girl, thinking to myself, “I’ve never seen them so… PURPLE.” Yes, they were literally purple-faced with emotional, humbling, awestruck praise to God for allowing simple parents like them to witness their two little girls head straight for the Kingdom.
Almost twenty years later, that memory is more beautiful to me than ever before as I prepare to become a parent this year. I finally understand the love only a parent CAN–the kind that fills you up so much, it hurts. The kind that wants to protect every precious step of your child’s life, but can’t. The kind that requires more 24-hour, 365-days-of-every-year trust in Abba Father than any moment of your education, career, or marriage has ever required! Parenthood is a leap of faith, and when you see your kids choose JESUS–sweet Jesus!–through all the chaos that life brings, it makes that leap worth it. And yes, sometimes it makes you purple-faced with weeping adoration and praise.
A couple years ago, I had the distinct honor of meeting and thanking Billy for his role in my God story. He was gentle and fairly quiet, so much like my own grandfather. But though he’s a simple man in every respect, without the kind and humble Billy Graham, I would have never met my Jesus Christ at the age of five. I would have never seen my parents’ faith fulfilled before their eyes. And I would not now comprehend THIS truth: that God does not ask us to be extraordinary in every way BEFORE we practice the gospel–He simply asks us to say YES to the call, just as we are.