I’ve never been able to understand how to express to you what it felt like in that moment. I’ve said, “Lord, every time I get to this point I really pray that there’d be a rational way of explaining it.” I think I’ve got one. Have you ever slid up and down in a bathtub and made waves and you get a good wave going and you suddenly stop and you get hit by the waves? It was just like I got hit by a wave of goosebumps. It just went right over me. The compelling amazing emotional feeling of closeness. I think in that moment this kind of hop took place that was just so fabulous because what I really wanted in my life was a personal relationship like Treena had. It was that profound witness that you heard tonight which caused me to want exactly the same thing. It’s been going on for two thousand years now, one way or another. So that in some person’s counting, one person in every three in the whole world today has had a personal encounter in some way with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an amazing thing.
It wasn’t until I came home and I held Treena’s hand for the first time and we knelt by the side of our bed, as a couple who’d known each other since we were eleven and now forty who had all the pain and all the hurt stacked up behind us, and we held hands and prayed. I cannot adequately express the feeling of unity, of oneness. But this I want you to know that there never has been a night when we haven’t prayed together since then. I think it’s over six thousand times that we prayed similar sorts of prayers for the people that we love. For us, it’s one of the greatest privileges in the whole world to be together in that one way. If you don’t at the moment, try it tonight. Talk about a humiliating experience for somebody who’d never done it before. It’s really quite humbling. But when I heard Treena praying with me, I just cried. Tears just rolled down my face. It was such a wonderful relief and a moment of joy.
Skipping. Let’s deal with the second thing. This is really quite interesting. The thing that got in my way from actually this conversion experience was possessions, and time, and busyness. I was very busy indeed. Although there were no lights on, I was still busy. I wonder how much nowadays busyness stops people in their interest in the kingdom.
I’m now facing the character building stage of my life as a Christian. There’s one thing that I was saying to a man the other day who came to talk in our church. He had a very battered Bible and he had been a Christian most of his life. He’s had this Bible since he was eight. It was very well worn. I asked him the question, “How do you get on when you’re very, very busy and you don’t have enough time for a really personal relationship with the Lord? Oh, sure you can get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later and somehow make some time, but you just don’t get around to doing it.” And he said, “I only ever wrote one thing in my Bible. My father told me, ‘Don’t write anything into God’s word. That’s God’s word don’t you dare write anything else into it.’ But I really broke that rule once because I had something so compelling. And this is what it was.” He opened up and showed me this beautifully handwritten statement: “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” And I looked at that and I looked to this man and I said, “Well, what is the answer?” And he said, “You’ll have to find that out from the Lord yourself, but you need to find it out.”
Since that time I’ve been asking around to try and find out. I’m convinced that if we want to be more like Jesus Christ we have to do what he did. He took the time to be with the Father. He never did anything, He never touched anything, He never judged anything, other than that which He saw the Father do. The greatest thing that He’s asking of us, in all of these situations that face us, is that we will behave in a manner that we have learned that Jesus would behave in. For Him, He did nothing other than that which He saw the Father do. He said nothing and He judged nothing. That meant that He had to have a very, very close feeling about what God was up. He had to spend time.
I’m going to ask you to pray for me please. I have a very, very busy life. Barrenness has been a part of that recently. Would you pray for me that I would find the time to be able to listen to what God has to say.
That of course is our story. Now I’ve got a chance to sit here all on my own with you. It’s a very special opportunity that I have. I’d like to talk to you about praying about your life and of actually having you say a few words after me. It’s not that I’ve got anything special to say, but you in the saying of them, much as I did as I shouted at the ceiling and saying, “What do I have to say to you to get to know you like Treena does?” In my life I just said, “Jesus I love you” and my life started then. I literally was, what is described as, “Born Again.” I felt renewed. Then I had someone to talk to. This is our opportunity to enter into this extraordinary chance, this extraordinary doorway which could lead into a bold approach towards God, a very personal one. If this is something that you’re hungry for, then you need to know that the hunger for it has already been placed in your heart. God has already led you to this point in time to pray this kind of prayer.
What I’d like to ask for you to do now is just simply to be quiet for a moment. I will stop talking. We’ll give it about a minute and during that time, may I ask that you just simply say, “Father, please now, make yourself real to me so that the prayer that I will pray would bless You and would be a blessing to me and my family and those I love.” Would you do that? OK, let’s spend a minute of our time in silence. . . . . . .
(One minute later). If you feel that you been drawn, literally, into the presence of a Holy God then let us now be two real people before him. Prayer is after all a discussion directly into the heart of God. Words that you say will be spoken with your mouth, they will be heard with your ear, and they will be believed by your heart. This is what the Bible says is a prelude to being quote-unquote “saved.” Would you care to say these words after me.
Father, here I am. I’ve wrestled with many things in my life. Many times I have wanted to change but it has been so difficult and I’ve failed myself and those that I love most of all. Now I come. This is who I am. Search my heart out now and bathe every part of me with a wonderful light so that I can see. I ask that you would forgive me for all the things that I have done that I know must have offended you. Forgive me, please. I do believe that forgiveness is absolute. That when Jesus died for me, He died for this very moment in time. When I could claim personal contact with You because You died for me. I am so grateful. And I now promise to listen for your direction in my life. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen
Thank you for praying that with me. I like to go on in just a moment or two. I’d just like to have another moment of silence before we go on and then we can go on and I can talk to you about some of the things that are very important at this time in your life.. . . . . . . . . .
(One minute later) Well, first of all I like to thank you for listening to Treena and I and our story. This is our life story and it really is a life story because we were forty years old, as we might have explained to you, when we actually came to know Jesus in a very personal way. That has made so much difference in our lives. As I’m speaking to you in the present moment, we’ve just crested sixty-one so we’ve got the keys to the doors.
Let me say a couple of things just before we say goodbye. I’m just on my way to the airport at the moment and it struck me as I was preparing to talk to you about this that there is a big difference between being a passenger and being a pilot. In this case, I assure you, that I’m only a passenger, but I know enough about flying that you don’t take it casually, especially if you have a whole bunch of passengers behind you. Well, if you just happened to pray with us then that’s wonderful. You’ve become a passenger but you’re much more than a passenger as a Christian, especially as a young Christian, you actually have to go up into the pilot’s compartment because you’re going to be a part of the process. It’s a synergism now between what you now begin to know is God’s will for your life and your response to that. You are working on it very much like a pilot calls in and says, “Can I come in? What degree do I come in at and which runway do I land at? So the same kinds of questions are going to be asked by you about the life that you have.
Part of the very importance you will find is of knowing who God is and what His Word says. You can listen to different radio stations and some can be Christian radio stations and it’s very obvious when you’re listening to a Christian radio station as it is when somebody starts yelling at you first thing in the morning. In the same way you’ll begin to know when it’s God speaking to you and when there are oppositions who would like to strip you of your faith as quickly as possible. When this happens, it’s a great shame. The best antidote in the world is a book within the Bible called John. If you read about what John said about the Gospel it’s the most extraordinary statement. Treena referred to it during our entire life in the Lord together like eating for the first time. I would really suggest that you get a copy of the New Testament.
Now secondly can I suggest that you find a Bible teaching church. The best way I know how to do this is to drop into a Christian bookstore. That’s what I did and I asked, “Who is the pastor that buys the most books that are about the gospel and how it’s geared up for today?” Jesus in the Bible, when He talked to people, used really up to date stuff. He was involved in politics and farming and carpentry, all kinds of stuff. I don’t see any reason why pastors today shouldn’t be reading about the gospel message and that it is really appropriate for our lives as we find them at this moment. Find out who’s reading because if they’re reading as pastors they really are meshed with wanting to meet the needs of their community. Make sure that that place is a Bible teaching church. It isn’t just hanging on some bright ideas because there’s an awful lot of bright ideas around. Unfortunately, some churches tend to isolate different teachings. Yes, it’s Bible but it’s only one part of the Bible and it keeps on and on and on and that kind of distraction can be pretty lethal, sometimes.
Third, can I suggest that you pray and when you pray don’t get all religious about it. You can keep your eyes open if you want and you don’t have to bow your head. You can look up and you can go outside. He knows what you’re going through and that’s the best thing about it. Treena really has a bit of a barney [trouble- from Barney Rubble=Trouble] with God now and again. She just says, “Hey, come on God, what’s going on?” It’s just like that. Since He already knows you’re frustrated, why don’t you just be frustrated and tell Him because this is true what I’m about to say to you. If God did a dive at the Olympics He would always get a ten. Every judge would give Him a ten. God is a Father. In all parenting, if you could imagine the perfect parent, this is Him. You might not have had a perfect parent. Treena didn’t and to some degree I didn’t and, to a great deal of degrees, neither Treena or I are perfect parents. But God is a perfect parent and since He knows what we’re going through, what a wonderful clear cut way of talking to Him as a daddy.
The next thing is a bit difficult. Would you like to take the initiative in a few days to tell somebody else that you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Within a very few days of being Christian, Treena and I wound up on the Phil Donahue show. People yelled at us, angrily from the audience, saying, “How could we possibly believe such a thing?” All we could say to them in those days was, “Listen, forgive us please, we don’t know all the answers at all. But this we know as world authorities, we know what Jesus Christ has done for us.” That’s the point I want to make to you. You might be somewhat retiring saying, “Oh, but I don’t know enough to say anything.” My dear friend, you are highly infectious. It doesn’t really matter because you know more than anybody alive what Jesus now means to you. Don’t let anybody rob you of this wonderful moment to tell others in the moment of your enormous enthusiasm for Him having come into your life and forgive you. That is the most wonderful thing of all.
Now maybe you’ve done all the listening and I’ve chatted to you and you’ve said, “Yes, Graham, but I just can’t make Jesus the throne of my life at this stage. I just don’t know how to do this.” I’m going to say this to you. Please, do read the New Testament. There’s a lot of them around. They’ve got them in the library, too. Have a look at John. Just read him through. Then nip into a Christian bookstore or find someone that you know in the community who is a Christian and just ask them the questions that you’ve got. Let them answer them and you’ll find yourself on that road to believing.
I’m a professional communicator, and to some extent you may feel that my words are a bit glib and that I simply try to toss them off. I don’t do this at all. This is one of the most important things that I’ve ever communicated in my entire life. While I take a lot of trouble over the food that I make and do on international television, my first priority in life is to really listen to what God is saying to me. I like to think that we try to live on the nod from God. The things I’ve talked to you about are really quite important. I want you to know that God really does care about you and He really cares about me and He cares that we have a spiritual walk with Him. I just want to wish you this in saying goodbye. May you have joy in your journey to Him. God bless you.