“BACK AWAY FROM THE FENCE!” I was shaken and embarrassed when I heard those loud words from a Secret Service guard at the George Herbert Walker Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. I had flown up to Boston, Massachusetts the summer of 1991 to see my best friend from college and his family. The Graytons’ (with their baby in tow) drove me up to Kennebunkport to see our former Presidents’ summer home from a distance.
After I got out of their car I walked ahead of them oblivious to a sign which stated: “NO WALKING BEYOND THIS POINT”. I kept walking hurriedly. I wanted to get closer even though I did not have any access. My walking stopped of-course when I was told to back away. When the Graytons’ caught up with me, they laughed at this idiot. Why do we desire to get close to the famous? Why are we so impressed that we freak out when we do get close?
Years before that humiliating encounter in Maine, I remember another experience with someone famous I also stumbled upon. In the later part of the 80’s, I accepted a job as a Dorm Counselor and Teacher at a boarding high school in Asheville, North Carolina. During the school year I drove 3 or 4 teenagers to the church they wanted to attend on most Sunday mornings. One Sunday, I was late in picking them up. When we finally arrived at Montreat Presbyterian Church in Montreat, N.C. we knew we would have to walk in front of people to find a seat.
One of the girls in our group was embarrassed. I slowly opened the door to the sanctuary and looked for a vacant pew. I pointed and told our crew: “There are some seats over there”. That same embarrassed girl then said: “But look who is sitting on the row behind that empty pew!” I looked and froze. There sat Billy and Ruth Graham. We quickly and quietly sat down in front of them. I noticed Ruth’s warm smile and I felt at ease. I later learned that Dr. Graham worshipped at Montreat Presbyterian when he was not out of town preaching at crusades. That was the first and only time I was that close to Billy Graham way before he left this ‘ole earth on February 21, 2018 at the age of 99.
Today, you and I still have continual access to Someone who goes beyond dignitaries and prominence. From his book Ephesians, Paul declares “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Hebrews 10:19a also tells us we have confidence to enter the presence of God because of the blood of Jesus Christ. What are you doing with your around-the-clock access to the Creator of the universe, the person Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit, as you walk the path you are on?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”.