Over Forty Years Later


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. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Many will remember the prime-time TV game show, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” starring Regis Philbin. My wife and I watched it just enough to know that the money being given away was not really what people wanted to see the most. It was the tension, the contestant’s response to pressure, as the questions got tougher and tougher.

To become a “millionaire,” contestants had to face 15 multiple choice questions that got harder as they went along. It was like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune rolled into one but with another added dimension, the temptation to second-guess yourself. Then there were “lifelines” that the contestant could use to phone a friend for help, poll the audience or have two wrong choices deleted for the possible answers. Once a participant thought they had the right answer, Regis Philbin would pause then look them in the eye and ask, “Confident? Are you sure? Is that your final answer?”

Have you ever had anybody ask you that question about your Christian life? Or perhaps a similar one? I still remember an encounter I had with a young man named Tom Phillips, who was heading up a volunteer group with the Billy Graham Crusade when it came to my home city of Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1975. He was 15 years younger than I was and a Southern Baptist seminary student. He had taken off a year to travel with the Crusade team to learn about evangelism.

My wife and I had only been Christians for a little over a year and we volunteered to work with the Crusade office. Dorothy did administrative work and I called on churches to enlist their participation. Tom and I hit it off right from the start and when the end of the Crusade was in sight I decided to pick his spiritual brain a little about ministry. My complaint was that I had been a Christian for almost a year and I felt no call to ministry. So, displaying my worldly impatience, I asked him, “When is God going to call me for ministry, if ever? I don’t know what He wants me to do and I’m not sure He will ever use me.” I’ll never forget his reply.

Tom had the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen. He looked right at me and asked me this question. “Do you trust in God?” I immediately said, “Yes,” (as every Christian should, right?). Then he looked at me again with those piercing eyes, as if he was staring right into my soul and asked me again. “Don, do you really trust in God?” It was like he was saying to me, “Is that your final answer?” (Because if it was, I was going to have to live and die by it).

This time I paused and I began to think about my answer for a while. I realized that not only was Tom waiting on my reply but so was God. In fact, I felt as if all of heaven was tuned in. “Did I really trust in God, I mean, really?”

I finally looked back at Tom and said, “Yes, yes I do.” He replied, “Then what are you worried about? God is going to temper you first and then He’s going to use you in ways you can never imagine.”

That was over 40 years ago. I went away to college that same year to prepare for ministry and eventually returned as a Pastor of the same church where my wife and I received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Isn’t it amazing what God will do when you decide to really trust him?

Thanks, Tom Phillips* for asking me for my final answer, and yes, forty years since your challenge to me, I still trust in God. Really! How about you dear friends?  Maranatha!

 *Dr. Tom Phillips is today vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and executive director of The Billy Graham Library. He has also served as the director of counseling and follow-up, working in that capacity in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Mexico, Brazil, and the Far East. He has played a key role in the development of current materials and programs. Dr. Phillips serves on the Billy Graham Center Committee at Wheaton College. He is a member of the Mission America Executive Committee and author of “Jesus Now Awakening: God Is Up To Something Big.”

To help us walk closer with God and to know Him better

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.