He had all the riches the world could possibly provide. He loved his lavish lifestyle, and what wasn’t there to love? He owned homes in the most desirous areas. A luxurious Palm Springs mansion, a Lake Tahoe estate, an upper Manhattan penthouse...all accessed by his personal Lear Jet. He'd recently been elected to a Senate seat, mainly through connections from his family.
Nevertheless, there was stirring inside him that made Ethan think that the world surely had more to offer. He’d become bored with his luxury. How many trips to the French Riviera could one man take? How many more shallow relationships with women could he endure?
Then one lonely evening in his cavernous mansion, Ethan was flipping through the channels of his giant television. A ball game was droning on here, a newscast about the latest tragedy droning on there...Then, quite by accident, Ethan turned to a station that was re-broadcasting some speaker from the 1940's or 50's. The black and white broadcast was rather grainy, but the sound quality was crystal clear.
A caption flashed across the screen - “Billy Graham - Los Angeles Crusade, 1949.” He’d heard of Billy Graham, and recalled a prayer breakfast that he’d attended in Washington a few years back that Graham might have spoken at. Ethan attended out of obligation to his office, but had spent most of the breakfast on his phone. He was almost certain, however, that the white-haired speaker that day was Billy Graham.
On television, the young, vibrant Graham was exhorting the masses to repent of their sins. What an old fashioned word, Ethan thought, “repent.” But he listened further. Graham was talking about some man running up to Jesus, asking him how he could obtain eternal life...eternal life?
Ethan knew a little about Jesus. In fact, once a man had told him in a hotel lobby that Jesus had died for his sins, and by following Jesus he could have eternal life. Ethan wondered why suddenly he remembered that conversation. He still had a tract the man had given him in the top drawer of his desk. He’d ran across it many times, always looking for something else.
Billy Graham described this young man running up to Jesus as being wealthy and an overseer of a district in his native land. Ethan caught a glimpse of himself in the ornate mirror hanging off to his side. Graham said the man was probably growing bored with his lavish lifestyle, wanting more out of his life. Ethan straightened up on the couch. Graham read from the Bible what Jesus said to the man:
“One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”*
What was Jesus telling the man, give away everything he owned and then he could become a follower?? Graham explained that the young man didn’t own his possessions, his possessions owned him. Ethan contemplated that statement... his possessions owned him.
Ethan lost focus on the broadcast for a few moments as his mind started down an unfamiliar road. He began to examine his own beliefs and realized that, while he certainly wasn’t an atheist, he wasn’t sure how he’d described himself, spiritually. His eyes were back on the television, where Billy Graham was saying all of us are sinners, and all of us need forgiveness, and Jesus died on the cross for payment for those sins, and...Ethan remembered the man in the lobby saying basically the same thing.
Ethan's heart stirred as he watched masses of people swarming toward the podium where Billy Graham stood, having invited them to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He knew he was at a crossroad. For the first time in his life he felt he’d found something that might fill the void he’d experienced for so long. He knew a choice had to be made. “Help me, God,” he uttered aloud, wanting to be relieved of the dilemma.
The broadcast ended. Ethan turned off the TV, and sat in silence. His personal predicament was agitating his soul like nothing he’d ever experienced. Help me, God...After a while, Ethan got up from the couch. He knew what he had to do. Walking over to his desk, he found the tract in the top drawer. He sat down...and began reading.
*Mark 10:21 - KJV
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