Thursday, 30 October 2008
Jimmy Graham : A man after God's heart
On Tuesday I spoke at the funeral of my very dear friend Jimmy Graham. His departure is a deep loss to myself and to those who were close to him. I had known him for about four years having first met him in a second hand book shop. At that time Jimmy was in very poor physical and emotional shape. He had just undergone a major operation for cancer and was deeply depressed: so depressed in fact that he almost despaired of life itself-have you ever been there? Also,due to the effects of the operation it caused one side of his face to drop down making Jimmy look a sorry sight.But God had already begun to work in Jimmy's life. Over a cup of tea he told me his story as well as his longing to know God and the way to heaven. We exchanged phone numbers and promised each other to make contact at least once a week.Little did I know that this 'chance' meeting would develop into a great friendship.
Jimmy was a ready learner and from that time on he really started to grow in his faith and displayed an incredible desire for both God and His word. He had always known the facts about the Bible, but in his own words he never knew the author who wrote it. One of his greatest loves was to go down to the Loughshore at Jordanstown which overlooks the Belfast Lough. It was there he would sit and read the Scriptures and other spiritual books by such authors as J.C. Ryle and C.H.Spurgeon, or the biographies of Tyndale, Wycliff and General Gordon among others.
Here Jimmy also sought to share his faith, and was used by God to bring Ken, who was also to become a really close friend, to Christ. After he met Ken he would spend hours each day tutoring his prodigy in the things of God. Many others who walked along the shore were also influenced by him in his quiet unassuming way. For instance, on one particularly dark, wet,windy night, someone could not start there car in the car park. Jimmy, who could put his hands to anything, soon sorted out the problem and before the grateful driver had sped off,he had had offered them a Christian booklet to read when they had time.For his ministry there Jimmy saw himself as, and loved to be known as 'the preacher at the beach'. It was also there that he was to write some great poetry as he sat down near the shore. Over the months his health steadily improved and the Lord restored his cheeky smiling face.
Sadly however, he never completely restored to full health and had to spend the end of his days between the Hospital and the Nursing Home. Nevertheless he held onto the hope that he would get out and share the news of God’s love with others, and move into a little bungalow with his thousands of books and old records. Now the preaching will be left to others who were influenced by him, and the house- well- he will now 'dwell in the house of the Lord forever'-which is far better.
Jimmy was never happier than with an open Bible (i.e.Matthew Henry Study Bible)at the Loughshore. He would also have heartily agreed with the following words of John Wesley, which formed part of his preface to his collection of sermons:
'To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity!
I want to know one thing, -- the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be _homo unius libri_. [A man of one book.] Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: Only God is here.
In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: -- "Lord, is it not thy word, `If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?' Thou `givest liberally, and upbraidest not.' Thou hast said, `If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.' I am willing to do, let me know, thy will."
I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach'.
If these words have spoken to anyone please contact me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jimmy and Ken at the Loughshore/