Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, visited a piece of property outside of Asheville, North Carolina, and had a vision of how it could be used to help people step away from the demands of their earthly lives and focus on their spiritual lives and God’s Kingdom purpose. The property was purchased by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1972 and, over the years, has been beautifully developed into what Billy and Ruth Graham prayed it would become. I wonder how many people’s lives have been changed because they drove through those gates, entered that peaceful beauty, and encountered the presence and word of God. That has been my experience every time I have been privileged to visit.
Our ministry was blessed to host a weekend there, and we hope to visit there again. I often say The Cove is where I take my soul for a vacation. God created us to need him and need others. The busyness and distractions of our earthly lives often cause us to think we need other things more. We don’t. In fact, there is nothing more important than finding time to sit with God and commune with the One who made all there is.
The Cove is beautiful. The buildings are lovely, but viewing the trees, the mountains, the animals, and the sky speak to the greatness of God. Those who work there are kind, prayerful, and glad they can help provide a place for people to be with God. I was reminded that kindness is contagious. A lovely woman, who doesn’t move as fast as she once did, knew I was losing my voice. She said, “I know just what you need.” She returned with a hot cup of tea, honey, and lemon. She set it down, kissed my cheek, and left to go and serve someone else. Please Lord, may she and I be best friends in heaven? But for now, Lord, will you help me treat others like she cared for me?
I think a few of the men were caught off guard. There are no televisions in the rooms. No football games for Saturday. Instead, just a soft place to nap, a quiet place to read, and a whole lot of nature to remind us of the greatness of God. It is a powerful thing to step away from the world and choose to focus on God instead. I think God must be very pleased when we choose to spend time with him and let go of lesser things. How amazing to think the Creator wants to spend time, alone, with each of us!
But now I’m back in Dallas. The trees will turn the colors of fall, but it won’t look like those hills in the Smoky Mountains! I might go to a restaurant this week, but I doubt a server will be thoughtful in the same way as my friend at The Cove. It was good to be cared for, it was good to step away from the world for a few days, and it was good to spend my time and energy focused on God. But The Cove is a place I go for a visit. Home is where I live — and the Lord is with me here as well. “My cup runneth over,” but how do I keep it that way?
During our stay, Jim’s messages from the seven churches of Revelation taught that God wants me to know him and worship him with my heart, soul, mind, and strength so that I can love my neighbor as I should. Love is the overflow of a life focused on God. The seven churches were full of people who loved God, but by the time Jesus dictated the Revelation to John, the people had allowed the world to minimize or weaken that love in some way. God’s people will always be flawed, but this is our praise: God will never stop guiding us in our weakness, loving us through our pain, calling us to his higher purpose, and redeeming us for an eternal life.
Anne Graham Lotz blessed us with a message Sunday morning that most of us in attendance are probably thinking about today. I never sit under Anne’s teaching that I don’t come away with a word from God. She taught us that no matter who we are or what we do, we need to consider ourselves as the hands and feet of Christ. She said, if you are a businessman, banker, mother, teacher, nurse, or doctor, we should ask, “How would Jesus do this job?” We should do whatever we do the way Jesus would do it. Even as I type, I’m thinking, What would Jesus write to all of you?
I think Jesus would tell all of us what he told his disciples and the others that day on the Sea of Galilee. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Whatever you have planned for this week, it will go better if you will seek God first. Seek his presence and you will find comfort. Seek his plan and you will find direction. Seek his purpose and you will find fulfillment. And when God adds those things to your life, those things will overflow to those around you.
I look forward to the next time I hear someone who is losing their voice. I will do my best to get them a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon. That’s what Jesus would do, and I want to be like the kind woman at The Cove, who served me as if she were serving him.
My thanks to all the servants at The Cove. I was blessed to spend time in a place that, from the beginning, was intended for God’s great purpose. It is twelve hundred acres of Billy and Ruth Graham’s answered prayers, and, once again, I was blessed to be there.