"Home" for Christmas
I was making my way down Black Mountain in North Carolina in the fall of 2009, heading for Charlotte, when I decided to call my Mom. Not the usual thing a guy then in his late 50s does following a meeting—but this wasn't just any meeting.
"Mom, you'll never guess who I just spent an hour with," I excitedly blurted out, my words in overdrive. "Billy Graham!"
I then waited for the effect of that name to sink in. And it did. With silence.
One second. Two seconds. Five seconds. Silence.
"Mom," I repeated several times, thinking my cell connection was kaput."You there?"
Finally, in her quietest church voice, she replied: "Really?"
"Yes mom," I said, "really!"
At which point, she was "transported" back over 65 years to a Saturday night Voice of Christian Youth rally at the Masonic Temple in downtown Detroit. There, as a girl of 15 or 16-years-of-age, she was brought to hear an evangelist by her boyfriend who was on-fire for the Lord.
He had ulterior motives, to be sure. He was falling in love with this girl—but he knew their courtship could not go much farther unless she too committed her life to Christ.
As the story is told, the evangelist my future father had hoped would be convincingly delivering the altar call that night was unable to attend for some reason, so another evangelist—unknown to either teen—filled in.
That other evangelist just "happened" to be Billy Graham himself! And that night, by the grace of God alone, my Mom's eternity was redirected.
God graciously used Mr. Graham to set the foundation—the cornerstone—of what would eventually become a family of four. Ours was a home marked by an infectious love for Christ and his Word, where Gospel witness was a forgone conviction (and enthusiastically delivered to anyone who darkened our doorway), and where the name Billy Graham was held in highest esteem.
Professing Christ as a young boy, then asking him to truly be Lord of my life while a freshman at the University of Michigan, I took refuge in, and drew spiritual nourishment from, the Word of God and from an assortment of Christian authors and periodicals—like Christianity Today, the publication Graham himself envisioned in 1953 and started three years later.
And as only God would have it (for I hardly felt qualified to work for such a vaunted periodical), my own chapter of the Graham-Smith-story fell into place when I came to work for Christianity Today in 1984 as special projects editor.
It was like I had come home.* * *
Much has changed in the ensuing 28-plus years of my own CT involvement , but not that singular, rock solid "Graham-commitment" to the Gospel and to what God's redemptive plan made manifest in his Son Jesus means for the whole of our lives and witness.
That's why in print or in pixels, you can always be assured that the Cross will be held high in everything CT does and that Christ will be honored as the only way, truth, and life.