Believers lost a great evangelist, but we share the 'same God'

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The indelibility of revered evangelist Billy Graham this week was expected as was the response of many in the Christian community: sadness, gratitude, ruminations of the type of heavenly reception Graham was receiving.

There is not likely a believer alive today who hasn't been somehow influenced by Graham's message. His voice has reached millions and influenced generations of people. He would tell you he wasn't perfect, rightly taking the burden we all bear - that not a single one of us hasn't made a mistake.

He seemed so much more, a name synonymous with the gospel message. I can't count how many times I've heard someone invoke his name as the standard of any evangelism effort. It was this respect for Graham that causes many believers to revere the man, which is exactly the sentiment I express when I first heard of his death.

My husband was in the kitchen with me when the news broke. We shared a moment of sadness as I read through the limited details.

"I wonder who the next Billy Graham will be," I wondered aloud.

"Maybe it's you," my husband replied.

My husband is one of the most encouraging people I know, and, for a reason I've yet to understand, has this adoration for me that confounds reason. Beyond that, I've proven to him over and over that I constantly make mistakes. Further, I'm an awkward public speaker, and I don't have near the Biblical understanding that Graham did. I don't have the compassion Graham did, nor the ability to cut to the heart of a problem with the perfect combination of eloquence and brevity.

I'm no Billy Graham, and my facial response caused him to expound.

"Billy Graham claimed the same power you claim," he said. "Same God."

Those two words hit hard. In the Christian dictionary, this theological principle is often referred to as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It's the idea that God lives within us, guides us to make godly decisions, gives us peace that passes all understanding, but also gives us the ability to do more than we could do on our own.

"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you ..." (Rom. 8:11a, NLT)

It is a life-giving power in each one of us, and we have a choice. We can tap into that power and let God use us to the level of Billy Graham or - fathom the thought - beyond, or to indulge our desires for distractions that will leave us unfulfilled.

The difference between most of us and Billy Graham is that he chose to say yes to the God living inside of him more often.

We can't acknowledge the person Billy Graham was until we acknowledge the power of our God, the same God who gave Billy Graham a pulpit. The same God who calls us to speak truth in love. The same God who has so much more in store for our lives than what we choose to settle for.

Same God.

Email Jamie H. Wilson at faithmatterssumter@gmail.com.