Life sometimes has a way of making many people, even college students, feel like they have arrived at a dead end, Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, told students at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week.
“It’s never too late to become the person that you might have been,” Dr. Graham said. “Your history never determines your destiny.”
Dr. Graham, former pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, was a guest speaker in chapel at the University this week. Dr. Graham has been pastor of 30,000-member Prestonwood Baptist, one of the nation’s largest churches, since 1989.
In a message titled “In the Presence of the Great I Am,” Dr. Graham spoke about Moses’ life-changing encounter at the burning bush after years in the desert, an incident recorded in the third chapter of Exodus.
“Of all the miracles and all the moments” in Moses’ life, “it was this one that made all the rest of the moments and the miracles possible,” Dr. Graham said.
Dr. Graham told the students that his own defining moment came when he was himself a college student. The tragic death of his father, Tom Graham, forever changed the trajectory of his life, he said.
While praying in the hospital chapel shortly after his father died, Dr. Graham had what he calls “a burning bush experience.”
“In my personal grief and pain, I cried out to God,” he said. “He energized me and called me and strengthened me not to curse the darkness but to turn on the light of Christ for the world.”
Before God can use us, sometimes we have to be stripped of our self-reliance, he said. “It is better to be a nobody in order to be a somebody that God can use.”
Dr. Graham said he often talks to college students and young adults who feel that they’re getting nowhere, that their mistakes and failures are holding them back.
“Do not allow your past to poison your future,” he said.
“If you will get in the presence of the Great I Am and listen to the one who is the same Jesus yesterday, today and forever … then one day by God’s grace and his calling, you will stand before the pharaohs of this world and cry out with a message of hope and freedom and power to change lives.”
Dr. Graham has served two terms as president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention and as president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference. He also is the author of several books, and his teachings are broadcast nationally and internationally by radio, television and Internet through PowerPoint Ministries.