Last week at Calvary we celebrated the life and ministry of Cliff Barrows, a remarkable unforgettable man: a man of God who literally impacted the lives of millions throughout the world, and yet who also personally impacted each person he met with his warmth, his acceptance, and his love.
As the longtime Program and Music Director of the Billy Graham crusades, there was nowhere Cliff was more at home than in front of a choir, leading worship. On one particular occasion at Calvary, Cliff is his usual way asked each person to turn to the person sitting next to them and tell them “You sing very well.” I happened to be sitting next to Welsh tenor Huw Priday who kindly made the remark, though I asked to get it in writing since I’d never been told that before! Cliff then insisted that Huw, Tim Hathaway, our Pastor of Worship, and myself join him in a quartet and I found myself singing between Cliff and Huw. Needless to say I kept my voice down!
But that was Cliff. He wrapped his arms around everyone, encouraging, welcoming and including them, drawing them in. Never erecting barriers, never talking down to anyone. Cliff gave us a flesh and blood example of a man who was living for Christ, never artificial but completely authentic and real.
Life for Cliff was Christ. He exemplified the humility of Christ, the warmth of Christ, the acceptance of Christ, the joy of Christ, the peace of Christ, and above all the love of Christ. Spending time with Cliff was to be wrapped in love, wrapped in grace.
Cliff often talked about being with the Lord. He certainly wasn’t afraid to die. In fact, he was looking forward to being in heaven. One of his favorite verses was Philippians 1:21: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” His beloved wife, Ann, said that in the last hours before Cliff passed from time into eternity, he had the radiance of the glory of God on His face: exuding love and joy.
Cliff has gone from us, but he has been welcomed into heaven by our Lord Jesus Christ. He is home with His Savior whom he loved and served for these many years. And we can only aspire to follow Cliff’s magnificent example of keeping our eyes on Christ, and remember that for Cliff, life was Christ and to die was gain.
To read more about the life and ministry of Cliff Barrows, visit http://cliffbarrowsmemorial.org.