Last year I watched Billy Graham being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on
television. Oprah told him that in her childhood home, she used to watch him
preach on a little black and white TV while sitting on a linoleum floor. She
went on to the tell viewers that in his lifetime Billy has preached to
twenty-million people around the world, not to mention the countless numbers
who have heard him whenever his crusades are broadcast.
When she asked if he got nervous before facing a crowd, Billy replied humbly,
"No, I don't get nervous before crowds, but I did today before I was going to
meet with you."
Oprah's show is broadcast to twenty-million people every day. She is
comfortable with famous stars and celebrities but seemed in awe of Dr. Billy
When the interview ended, she told the audience "You don't often see this on
my show, but we're going to pray." Then she
asked Billy to close in prayer. The camera panned the studio audience as they
bowed their heads and closed their eyes just like in one of his crusades.
Oprah sang the first line from the song that is his hallmark "Just as I am,
without a plea, " misreading the line and singing off'-key, but her voice was
full of emotion and almost cracked.
When Billy stood up after the show, instead of hugging her guest, Oprah's
usual custom, she went over and just nestled against him. Billy wrapped his
arm around her and pulled her under his shoulder. She stood in his fatherly
embrace with a look of sheer contentment.
I once read the book Nestle, Don't Wrestle by Corrie Ten Boom. The power of
nestling was evident on the TV screen that day. Billy Graham was not the
least condemning, distant, or hesitant to embrace a public personality who
may not fit the evangelistic mold. His grace and courage are sometimes
In an interview with Hugh Downs, on the 20/20 program, the subject turned to
homosexuality. Hugh looked directly at Bill and said, "If you had a
homosexual child, would
you love him?" Billy didn't miss a beat. He replied with sincerity and
gentleness, "Why, I would love that one even more."
The title of Billy's autobiography, Just As I Am, says it all. His life goes
before him speaking as eloquently as that charming southern drawl for which
he is known.
If, when I am eighty years old, my autobiography were to be titled Just As I
Am, I wonder how I would live now? Do I have the courage to be me? I'll never
be a Billy Graham, the elegant man who draws people to the Lord through a
simple one-point message, but I hope to be a person who is real and
compassionate and who might draw people to nestle within
God's embrace. Any one of us can do that.
We may never win any great awards or be named best dressed, most beautiful,
most popular, or most revered, but each of us has an arm with which to hold
another person, each of us can pull another shoulder under ours, and each of
us can invite someone in need to nestle next to our heart.
We can give a pat on the back, a simple compliment, a kiss on the cheek, a
thumbs-up sign, We can smile at a stranger, say hello when it's least
expected, send a card of congratulations, take flowers to a sick neighbor,
make a casserole for a new mother, give a high five, say "I love you" in
language your teenager will understand, or back off even when you have a
right to take the offensive.
Do you make it a point to speak to a visitor or person who shows up alone at
church, buy a hamburger for a homeless man, call your mother on Sunday
afternoons, pick daisies with a little girl, or take a fatherless boy to a
baseball game? Did anyone ever tell you how beautiful you look when you're
looking for what's beautiful in someone else?
Billy complimented Oprah when asked what he was most thankful for; he said,
"Salvation given to us in Jesus Christ" then added, and the way you have made
people all over this country aware of the power of being grateful."
When asked his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same
person, he said, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible." How unexpected. We
would all live more comfortably with everybody around us if we would find
the strength in being grateful and happily incompatible.
Let's take the things that set us apart, that make us different, that cause
us to disagree, and make them an occasion to compliment each other and be
thankful for each other. Let us be big enough to be smaller than our
neighbor, spouse, friends, and strangers.
Every day, Nestle, don't wrestle! Offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship ROM. 12:1