Will Graham to Sherwood: Time is of the Essence
By Boaz Wadel
November 10, 2013 - Preaching only a few days after his grandfather, Billy Graham's birthday and the culmination of 'My Hope,' Will Graham said one thing is becoming more and more evident to him: life is but a vapor, and we must make the best use of our time.
Will Graham was full of illustrations as he stood in the pulpit at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., on Sunday. Senior Pastor Michael Catt invited Will to speak and close out the week they'd devoted entirely to My Hope America with Billy Graham.
Holding up a ballpoint pen, Will asked, "What's the purpose of a pen?"
"To write," the church said in unison.
Taking their answer literally, he placed the pen next to a sheet of paper and folded his arms.
"You guys ain't real smart, because it's not writing," Will said. (With a chuckle, he also apologized for his bad grammar and blamed it on feeling like he was "among friends.")
"You have to pick it up!" a choir member yelled.
Will's point exactly. The pen is useless "until it's in its master's hand, and he takes it and uses it," he explained.
Yet, how may of us have failed to place our lives, our time, in our Master's hands?
Recently celebrating his grandfather's 95th birthday has brought back numerous lessons Will learned from his grandfather, Billy Graham - one of them about the brevity of life.
"My grandfather is 95 years old, and he says it's gone by in a flash," Will said.
"When you stand before God, you're going to have to give an account of your time," he added. "When you're gambling with time, you're gambling with eternity."
As Will gave an invitation to follow Christ, it wasn't long before the altar filled with people kneeling in prayer - some to accept Christ, others to stand as an intercessor for someone they knew.
Sherwood has been one of the biggest supporters of My Hope, spending a good chunk of the year training members to be My Hope "Matthew" hosts and share their faith through relationship evangelism.
In the last few weeks, the movie-making church has seen 76 salvations as a result. Among that number were nine employees from a pecan plant owned by Sherwood members Tim and Libby Hall.
The couple offered a paid, one-hour break for workers to watch "The Cross." It wasn't mandatory to attend, yet all but one of their 20 or so employees came.
"['The Cross'] speaks to the one thing that we all lack," Libby said. "We've all been humiliated and downtrodden, because we're broken. Everyone has that hole in common."
Tim and Libby have only been married two years but agree their "heart cry" as a couple is to spread the Gospel to others, especially in Albany where so many are struggling.
Young people at Sherwood are also more excited than they've ever been about reaching out to friends they see in class Monday through Friday, but not in church on Sunday.
Still, for Pastor Catt, Will's message was a reminder that their work isn't done - that members have to make evangelism a priority as they decide how to spend their time.
"This is going to be ongoing," he said.
To many members, that means taking My Hope on tour.
"They're taking that DVD [of "The Cross"] with them wherever they go," Catt said.
Tim and Libby have already made plans to bring "The Cross" with them on two upcoming family trips. Catt also confirmed numerous My Hope gatherings next week alone.
"It's ingenious," he said, referring to the My Hope videos and the heart behind them.
And it's a tool Sherwood will have in its repertoire well past November.