When one considers what a life well spent for Christ Jesus might look like, in this era many Christians may agree on the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham. Rev. Graham, who passed on to glory at age 99 last week, was probably the most beloved and revered Christian evangelist of the past 100 years. He was a man who began his journey with the Lord in his 20’s, then went on to lead millions of people to the same path with the Lord. He lived a righteous public life and apparently strived to keep that holiness a practice in private as well. He was a good example of a servant of the Lord. But, I ask this question: How much dying to self did this man of great faith need to do in order to live such a life?
I only ask this to help you ponder, and mean absolutely no disrespect to his legacy or life. God used this mighty evangelist in ways we probably cannot imagine and certainly used Rev. Graham to appeal to a multitude of hearts! But I lead you into thought to bring to light my next example of a life well spent by a servant of the Lord.
On March 5, 2018 another servant of the Lord passed on to glory. You won’t hear of his death on the news, yet the life and service of a dear brother in Christ – Pastor Kevin Patton – has touched, I’m sure, thousands of lives. Kevin’s level of surrender to God was not as clean and easy as that of Rev. Graham, and his struggles throughout the journey to live righteously, burdensome at times. But this morning as the Holy Spirit filled my mind with this message, I likened Kevin to the Apostle Paul, for they both were humbled greatly at the feet of Jesus, and bore a thorn God would not remove.
Like Apostle Paul, Kevin chose Christ-likeness; he chose to die to self amidst a burning flesh. He sacrificed his own desires as a man to ensure he remained true to both Christ in him and his calling as a pastor. Not to dive into his personal life, but Kevin had been raised in a Christian home (I was close to his beautiful, admired, godly mother for a couple of years before she passed on to Glory) and in adulthood he became a prodigal. He fell hard – into drugs and alcohol – but praise the Lord for his grace and mercy, and for a praying mother!
I have yet to meet a man who was more aware of his past, his sin nature – one who did his utmost to control his vessel (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) both in private and in public. For this I admired him greatly – especially since I could relate to the desire and need to contain oneself. Kevin’s legacy was this, his ability to live a life for Christ while being aware of how easily he could fall back into such things. He was a kind, loving man who loved the Lord above all else and wanted nothing more than to be dedicated to serving Him. He ran the race with fervor until the end. He kept the faith and love for God despite that thorn and one would never hear him complain about it. Kevin was simply grateful for the Lord’s mercy, his endless grace and love.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
When Kevin delivered a message to congregations, they were always filled with this passion of a life well-lived for Christ. He was able to reach men because they related to him. He was admired and loved by so many and adored by his family. Kevin, we are all certain, was thrown a huge party in heaven last week as well as hearing the words, “well done my good and faithful servant.”
Kevin’s impact on those who knew him, has us thanking God for restoring Kevin’s life all those years ago, and allowing the world to be touched by his dedication as a disciple of Christ, till the end. We love you greatly, Kevin…`till we meet again in Heaven brother. Glory!