Major Leaguer for God

By   •   October 16, 2011

Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life. The young live for the here and now. Thinking ahead seems to be in the form of dreams that promise fairy-tale endings. Though I am nearing ninety-three, it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was one of those dreamers, filled with great expectation, planning a life that would satisfy my every desire. Since there were few things in life that I loved more than baseball, as a young man I dedicated myself to the sport and hoped that my passion for the game would lead me straight to the major leagues.

My goal was simple: stand at home plate, with bat in hand, immersed in an important game. I often pictured myself hitting a big-league grand slam into the stadium seats and hearing the crowd roar with thunder as I ran the bases—nearing home.

I never would have guessed what lay in store. After giving my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ—repenting of my sin and putting my entire life into His hands—I laid down my dreams, along with my bat, and fully embraced God’s plan by faith, trusting that He would lead me all the way. He did, He is, and He will.

As I look back, I see how God’s hand guided me. I sense His Spirit with me today, and most comforting is the knowledge that He will not forsake me during this last stretch as I am nearing home. If that doesn’t give me a sense of hope, nothing else will.

I have remained a baseball fan, not necessarily of one team over another but of the game itself the teamwork, the strategy, and the challenge of defeating the opponent. But baseball was not God’s plan for me. Nevertheless, He taught me how to integrate these important components into service for Him. The Lord has blessed me with a loyal team of men and women whose hearts are united with mine—set on leading others to an eternal home with Christ. Our team strategy has been to fulfill the Lord’s command to go into the whole world and preach Christ for the purpose of defeating the opponent—Satan.

When I started preaching, it was never my intention to preach inside a baseball stadium or any other stadium for that matter. I was accustomed to preaching in churches when I was pastoring and in auditoriums when I was traveling with Youth for Christ (YFC). At the close of the war in 1945, several of us on the YFC team had the privilege of preaching at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The details are sketchy now, but I recall the first time I stood in an outdoor arena to preach the Gospel. I had been invited to hold an evangelistic citywide meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana. When the local auditorium could not hold the crowds, the organizers had no choice but to move the event outside. Uncertain as to how people would feel about attending an evangelistic rally in a large arena, I was rather nervous.

Then I thought about my boyhood dreams. Instead of bat in hand at home plate, I had what I now know is a much greater privilege: to stand behind a pulpit, with Bible in hand, immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit. I was not performing before fan-filled bleachers but pronouncing the Word of God to sin-filled hearts searching for truth.

Life, indeed, is full of surprises.

Now, all these years later, I still enjoy watching a batter successfully cross home plate, but nothing thrills me more than seeing the Holy Spirit at work in hearts as the Gospel is carried into stadiums, across the airwaves, and around the world. A baseball may be driven into the farthest corner of the largest stadium, but the Word of God travels to the farthest corners of the earth, proclaiming the Good News of salvation. It still excites me just to think about the impact.

Jesus Christ did conquer death, and by His resurrection He was victorious. Before He left earth, He imparted to His followers the greatest of all strategies: go into the world and preach the Gospel. After listening to His words, they looked up to see their Savior nearing home.

I wonder. What home are you preparing for? Some people spend their lives building ultimate dream homes so they can enjoy their twilight years. Some find themselves exchanging their bank accounts for residence within the gates of a retirement center. Others spend their last days in nursing homes.

For those of you who do not know Him, choosing your eternal home is the most important decision you will ever make. For the Christian the last mile of the way is a testimony to God’s faithfulness, for He said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 NKJV).

Excerpted from “Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well,” by Billy Graham. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tenn. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.

Order your copy of Nearing Home today »

We Need Your Gift

Please help the BGEA continue Billy Graham’s ministry for generations to come. Donate online today to ensure the Gospel will touch the hearts of families around the world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published but you will receive our next BGEA ministry update. You can opt out of future emails at any time.

39 Comments

  1. Debbie says:

    Ordered your book a few days ago and cant wait until it gets here. I saw you in NYC in I believe it was 2006 – nit was your last Crusade– and what an awesome experience!!! I thank God for you and God Bless You Sir!!!

  2. Barbara says:

    I have ordered this book and can't wait to receive it. I have always loved hearing Billy Graham in his crusades. Was even able to attend a crusade in Boise, Idaho, in the 80's and still remember it well.

  3. Doug says:

    I was 12 in the summer of 1963 and Dr. Graham came to Los Angles to preach in the Coliseum. I didn't want to go. But Mom and Dad made me. I cried as I walked to the center of the field to give my life to Jesus. I was changed and became part of the Jesus Movement. As one of my favorite songs goes, thank you for giving to the Lord…for because you gave I came to know the Lord. I thank you, too, Billy Graham.

  4. sue says:

    I can't wait to buy the book, I enjoy Billy Grahams book and have been a fan for along time. when I was little my dad (went to be with God, 2005) always made us sit and watch Billy Graham on t.v., and I am thankful he did. I can't wait for my “nearing home” too! God bless!

  5. Patti says:

    Total amazing story. How God changes one's life and the course of the road they walk. Have always been inspired by the way Billy Graham presents the gospel. Thank you for sharing this with us:}

  6. Patricia says:

    I have read all of Billy Grahams, books that anything to do with him or his precious Ruth, I have followed him for many, many years, and will continue as long as I can!! I pray for you's from the bottom of my heart, GOD IS GOOD!! THANK YOU JESUS, AND THANK YOU BILLY, AND RUTH, AND FAMILY!!

  7. tom chastain says:

    Billy Grahams new book is a real blessing I bought 2 copys from my christian book store 1 for myself and one for a friend who is a pastor. This book would make a great gift for someone special in your life espically your pastor this month is pastor appreciation month

  8. Donna says:

    A truly remarkable man. I have watched old reruns of BGEA at different times and always get chills when he calls the people to the alter. May God Bless you. You have enriched many lives.

  9. carl says:

    I got the book on my Kindle and being a “Born Again” Christian.. I am 83years old, had a stroke in 1985 and was saved in 1942. I have read all of Dr. Graham's books but this one is the best, especially if you're nearing home. It is a book that everyone retired or approaching old age must read. It'll charge your spiritual batteries… GREAT BOOK DR GRAHAM GOD BLESS CB

  10. Ruth says:

    Can't wait to read your new book. I've never met you but I believe I'll know you in Heaven.