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billy graham 3[1]

A story by John Armes…

The year was 1968, and the place was downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  A young 13 year old boy and his 16 year old brother were attending a meeting to hear a special speaker.  The older boy had just gotten his drivers license and had driven them to the meeting.  To the younger boy, Market Square Arena was the largest building he had ever been in.  As he looked around at the sea of people his anticipation grew and he thought to himself that this must be a very good speaker to bring so many people.  Finally the speaker appeared at the podium in front of the arena.  The boy carefully listened to every word.  At the end of the meeting, the speaker offered an invitation for whoever wanted to come and join, to come up front.  What this man was offering, the young boy wanted.  As he made his way to the front, he was wondering if he could find his way back to his brother in this large packed auditorium.  It seemed to take forever to get there.  As he got to the front there were several men there and began asking him questions which the young boy answered and than the men began to gather around him and pray for him.  The boy accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior on that night, and as the boy rose from the altar he was filled with a new purpose, bigger than anything he had ever done.  He had a thirst to learn more.  When the two boys got home to their parents the young boy said nothing.  The older boy later began to tell his parents what had happened.  The older boy was my brother Lex, I was the younger boy, and the speaker was Billy Graham.  That was the start of my long and bumpy journet to God, and the beginning of his plan for my life.   Billy had planted a seed…

As I began to grow, I became involved in my church.  I played bass guitar for church choir and church ensemble and also played bass for my school choir and a school ensemble.  I remember the little old ladies and older gentleman who would greet me after the church service and tell me how they enjoyed my guitar playing in the service.  You see they were planting seeds.  All thru high school I was required to learn bible verses that stuck with me thru life.  There, my teachers were planting seeds.

As I graduated from high school and got closer to college, I began getting into things I should not have.  I tended to give in to temptation and find trouble.  I had picked up drugs and drinking as I veered off course and slipped away from the path I should have taken and into a rock-n-roll lifestyle.  It is a good thing that my mother didn’t know because it would have broken her heart.  Even though I went to Christian universities, I managed to find the wrong friends and the wrong things to do as I was in a rebellious state.  Drugs and alcohol followed me thru school until the day I got married and than I semi-mended my ways and straightened up a little.  The real life changer was when my first daughter was born.  Her name is Rachael, and when she was born and I held that little innocent child in my arms, I then decided to mend my ways to an even straighter path and began to truly reform.  I wasn’t going to influence her in the wrong direction.  Little eyes are watching.  Than later we had her precious sister.  Her name is Stephanie.  Rachael became a mother hen to Stephanie when she was a baby.  She loved her sister.  Consequently I became a “chip off the old block”.  When I was a child my mom would get me and my brother up to go to church every Sunday.   One Sunday when she woke me up for church, I told her that I am not going to church today.  When she asked my why I told her that if my dad was going to sleep in, I was too.  When my mom told my dad what I had said, he never missed a day of church after that.  My dad began to plant a seed.  If it weren’t for the seeds my parents planted in me and the constant prayers they prayed for a prodigal son, I don’t think I could have survived the stormy parts of my life.  But, because of my parents I believe that even though I strayed off my path, that God had his hand on me all thru my life.   So, me and my dad both changed our ways because of our children.  As countless other fathers and mothers have done in the past and will do in the future.  Having kids is a life changer.  However, it was not enough to keep mine and their mothers marriage together and after 15 years of being married, their mother and I got a divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

After my divorce I picked up drinking again and went from woman to woman slipping back into my previous state and trying to fill the hole that was left in my life from my divorce.  I never seemed to find the right woman.  Later on I found that it was God who would fill that hole in my life and as he, over time took away my desire for drugs, than drinking, than sleeping around, than smoking, and finally rock music, he has continued to mold my life to be more Christ like.  As the song goes, “the things of this world will grow strangely dim”  , as it has for me.  My goals and outlook on life has been changed from what it used to be into a better and more responsible purpose in life, yet I fall back on that phrase that we used to say in church when I was young “be patient with me, God is not thru with me yet”…  I finally found the true meaning of those words and how true they are.  And so the Christian life has been a lifetime journey.    Now Jesus is not my co-pilot, but my pilot.  Where he leads I will follow.  I have found that all the experiences of my life add up to one thing.  The most important cause worth fighting for is the cause of Christ, and all the other things will fall into place when my life is surrendered to him.  He is the only one that deserves my praise.  And as we live day to day life in our small world, there is a whole big world out there and God’s plan is unfolding all around us.  A much bigger purpose and meaning than all of us put together.  And, we all have a chance to be part of it.  As I get older, the importance of my place in family has increased with aging parents and now grand kids.  My kids are having kids.  They are and always will be family and God commands us to care for our families.  My two little grandchildren now two and three years old now regenerated that need for me to be there and lend a hand whenever needed.  However, spending time and cash on the little ones becomes more of a blessing than a responsibility.  I am the classic grandpa and tend to go overboard on my grandkids.  I can’t help it, I just get carried away.  I love my two daughters and my mom and dad because they are easy to love, as well as my grand kids.

As with my family, I want to be like “Johnny Appleseed” and plant seeds.  Billy Graham planted a seed in me when I was a boy, the elder people at my church when I was growing up planted a seed as well with their encouragement, my teachers in high school planted a seed thru having me learn bible verses, my mom and dad planted a seed in having me attend church regularly as a young boy, I in turn plant seeds in my kids and now grand kids, and with these stories I intend to plant a seed in you.  Many people planted seeds in my life and it became obvious to me that God was the origin of the good seeds.  He continues to plant seeds in me and I will in turn plant good seeds in others.  Never pass up a chance to plant a good seed in those you come in contact with during your day to day life.  You may never know how far that seed will go.  I hope that my life as an example to you shows you how seeds planted in someone’s life grow up with them.  People will stray, but those seeds can come back and influence them in the right direction.  It has happened to me countless times.  Memories can help shape our lives.  There are countless times that a bible verse has come to me out of nowhere that has shaped a decision I was pondering or given me encouragement along the way.  God uses seeds to plant in your life because he loves you.  Let God use you to plant seeds.  You may not be there to see the seed grow, but if you plant the seed, God will send the rain. Billy Graham has planted lots of seeds around the world, and you can too.  Now plant that seed.  Let God use you.  Always encourage others of all ages to do good.  Good should be rewarded and can be with just a little encouragement.  The greatest cause you could ever encounter is to be used for the purpose of God thru Christ Jesus.  Can I hear an “amen”…