DEAR DR. GRAHAM: We have a large extended family, and since we have the biggest house, everyone always comes here for get-togethers. But that means I have to do most of the work, and frankly, it’s a real burden. I’m already dreading Thanksgiving. Any suggestions? — Mrs. V.W.
DEAR MRS. V.W.: The time to prepare for any holiday that promises to be stressful is long before it ever happens, and that includes Thanksgiving (which is, I know, still a few weeks away). You should prepare for this special day physically, emotionally and spiritually.
First, prepare physically; that is, do as much as you can in advance. You know better than I what this might involve, but the goal is to avoid being overwhelmed at the last minute. Make lists of what you’ll need to do and when. If you can bake or freeze anything in advance, do it. And don’t feel like you have to handle everything; get some of your relatives to help you, if they don’t already.
Then prepare emotionally. You know the stresses you’ll probably face on the holiday; set aside time to be alone and find moments of calm. Make prayer a part of your preparation also, asking God to keep you from getting upset if things don’t go quite the way you planned. In addition, take time to reconnect with those you don’t see regularly; some of them may not be around next year.
Finally, prepare spiritually by making these weeks leading up to the holiday a time of true thanksgiving. God has given us so much, and we can be so ungrateful. Above all, give thanks for God’s greatest gift — the gift of His Son. The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I thought I was making the right move when I dumped my husband and moved in with another man a couple of years ago. But now he’s thrown me out, my ex-husband has remarried, my kids don’t want anything to do with me, and I’m left out in the cold. How could I have been so stupid? I hope others learn from my experience. — K.S.
DEAR K.S.: You can’t change the past, but with God’s help you can change the future. God loves you in spite of the way you’ve ignored Him and wants to forgive you and help you get your feet on the right path. Turn to Him and ask Christ to cleanse you and direct you. I can’t promise everything will suddenly change, but I can promise this: God will be with you, and He will help you as you yield yourself to Him every day. Don’t go down the wrong road again, but commit your life to Christ today.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: You keep telling people they need to have God forgive them, but I’m not such a bad person and I don’t feel any particular need to be forgiven for anything. Why should I pray for forgiveness? — B.N.
DEAR B.N.: No one is in greater spiritual danger than the person who feels no need of God. And that’s your situation, for if you think you have no need for forgiveness, then you won’t ever bother to turn to God.
And yet (as I said), this places you in great spiritual danger, for it means you’ll never feel any need to have God in your life. But someday, we all must stand before God, and then the blazing searchlight of His holiness will illuminate every corner of our souls. Then we will be seen for what we truly are: sinners who stand in constant need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Jesus warned that in that day, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2). Those are solemn words, and I pray you’ll take them seriously.
Don’t confuse true guilt with feelings of guilt. You may not feel guilty, and when you compare yourself with other people, perhaps it’s somewhat understandable. But God doesn’t compare us with other people.
I challenge you to ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you — as someone who falls far short of His standard of perfection. I challenge you most of all to turn to Christ and open your heart and life to Him. Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-877-2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.