billyandcliff2“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Prov. 3:5-6

Many times we miss God’s plan for our lives because we are waiting for some kind of “major sign” to help point us in the right direction. I’ve found that God often works through many simple situations that often get over-looked because we are too pre-occupied seeking the “burning bush experience”.

In the game of baseball, a bunt at a critical time might get over-looked on the highlight tapes or evening news, but to the player who made the bunt and the coach who called that play, it means everything. It is subtle and sometimes even disguised with all the other commotion going on, but it is there.

In one of Dr. David Jeremiah’s Turning Point magazine articles was a story about one of our favorite choral directors – Cliff Barrows. The story reminds each of us that God works in mysterious ways. He seeks to guide each believer but needs a yielded heart and willing spirit to be effective in directing His children to a “life of purpose.”

Cliff Barrows didn’t set out to become the most famous choir leader in the world. In fact, he met Billy Graham “by accident” – and ended up becoming his partner in ministry for half a century.

It was 1945, and Cliff and his fiancée, Billie, had managed to pull together enough money to have a simple wedding and buy train tickets to a city where there was a resort hotel. They envisioned a non-frills honeymoon and got even fewer frills than they expected. Arriving in the city, they found that the hotel had been closed. They knew no one and had little money, so they began hitchhiking to find their way to the next town. A sympathetic driver picked them up, listened to their story, and took them to a small grocery store run by a friend of his. And there the newly weds spent their first night as a couple.

Cliff had brought his trombone along and the next morning was playing hymns in the room where they had stayed. The woman who owned the store heard the music and, learning that they were Christians, arranged for them to spend the remainder of their honeymoon at a friend’s house. While there, they were invited by their host to attend a youth rally where a young evangelist was speaking.

Arriving at the rally, they learned that the evangelist’s song leader had become ill, and Cliff was asked to take charge of the music for the service. He met the speaker – a young evangelist named Billy Graham – and they planned and carried out the first of what would become innumerable meetings together over the next half century.

Think of how many dots had to be connected in that series of events in order for Cliff Barrows and Billy Graham to meet. There were many points at which Cliff and his wife could have grown frustrated with how things had turned out and just grumbled their way back home. But because they were living in the moment and sensitive to God’s leading in their lives they made it to the most important meeting of their young lives.

They could have been angry that the resort hotel was closed… insulted at having to spend their honeymoon night in a borrowed bedroom above a grocery store…depressed at the idea of spending their honeymoon in the home of people they didn’t know…or being “too spiritual” to attend a backwoods youth rally and sit in the audience listening to a no-name evangelist. Because they were open to God’s leading and looking for an opportunity to serve, God blessed them with an abundant ministry.

This story causes me to slow down and ponder each encounter with expectation and wonder. In my fast-pace life I wonder how often I’ve missed God’s best because I too quickly attach myself to something good. Sometimes God’s best and most life-changing words come in ways that require us to be alert and attentive to those “appointments from Heaven”.

Personal Application:
1. Can you think about the times you waited for God’s best instead of just settling for something because it was expedient?
2. What are the lessons we learn during the waiting period?
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14

Jim Grassi, D. Min.