Billy Graham is dead. The man who was revered by every American president, who vied to have him at their Inaugurals, died a few weeks ago at the grand old age of ninety-nine. Two years ago, visiting Chicago, I had gone over to the Billy Graham Museum, and with all the humility within me, tears welling up in my eyes, I had seen exhibits revealing the story of the simplest, yet most powerful preacher of all time. I saw his weather-beaten briefcase, his old Bible, and did not dare touch the wooden, worn out pulpit, from where he’d quite often delivered his powerful messages.
And then I heard the strains of Just As I Am Without One Plea.
It was a hymn sung after every message he delivered, and as choir voices rose in crescendo, thousands upon thousands in the audience, stepped out onto the aisles and walked down, just as they were, to welcome God into their lives.
They suddenly knew it was just as they were that God wanted them, not with all the degrees that went after their names, not with all the good they’d done, nor bad they’d inflicted, just wanted them, dirty, filthy, lying, maybe cheats, bad husbands and wives, however, whatever, whoever, just as they were!
“Hey Bob,” God calls, “You don’t seem to want me around you?”
“You’re too holy!” I shout back. “When I become clean and good, I’ll come to you!”
“I don’t need you clean and good!”
“What!” I shout back. “Then how will you have me?”