Forty years and a lifetime ago…

“No,” I said apologetically, “I wasn’t at Woodstock.”

My girls seemed disappointed that I didn’t take part in the iconic festival of my day.  And I felt a tinge of regret, too, because it seemed I missed out on a major identification point with my generation.

But God did one better.  He sent me to a festival of eternal proportions.

Explo ’72

Exactly 40 years ago today, as 80,000 candlelights flickered across the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the Lord filled my heart with His light.  “It only takes a spark….”

Candles across the Crowd

What an awesome week!! Just six days after my high school graduation, the Lord set favourable boundaries around my future, by sealing my will in His.  And that one day made all the difference in the next forty years, and eternity, for me.

The days before that amazing night were filled with seminars, street evangelism, and some exceedingly convicting teaching on sex and purity by Josh McDowell.  And then there was the music–Johnny Cash, Larry Norman, Love Song, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, and many others!  The evenings were filled with a call to follow Jesus.  On June 15th, candles were distributed to a Bowl full of young people, while Dr. Billy Graham spoke:

“I am asking you to light a candle…and we will start a spiritual fire here tonight that could sweep the world.”

The entire stadium glowed with candlelight.  We can’t really know, and only eternity will be able to reveal how much the world may have been affected by that evening.  But I know this…I changed.   It was the culmination of a mother’s prayers and the beginning of a new life in Christ.

As much as that one day changed the course of my life, it cannot be isolated from everything that took place prior to that time.  My earliest memories are of my mom reading the Bible to me every night before bedtime.  She also made me watch every single Billy Graham Crusade, go to church, Sunday School, and behind the scenes, prayed for me daily!

And, as anyone knows who has read about Moses’ forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert, or David’s forty year reign, there was much more that needed to be worked out in my life after my initial surrender to the Lord–much more!

For the first several months following that momentous day, I probably sinned more than I did in the 17 years prior!!  What a wreck, as I grappled to hold onto my will, my desires, and the future I thought I wanted for myself!  A rigorous tug-of-war raged in my mind and almost took away all God had in store for me.

But, God’s grace is greater.  He had new mercies waiting for me every morning.  He guided me through decisions, 36 years of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, serving  20 years in the military, and too many other things to recount here.  He has been, is, and always will be, FAITHFUL.  That is my favourite characteristic of God!  I can truly sing with the heavenly host, Great is Thy Faithfulness!!

That day and the thousands since, constantly reveal His love to me, over and over and over again, through the Cross of Jesus, the Word of God, and the gentle wooing of His Holy Spirit.  There is no other place I would rather be than in Him.

I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of something much deeper and greater than Woodstock.   Explo 72 was a place in time where God stepped in and turned a remnant of young people to Him; He ignited a generation to serve Him around the world, and stirred up wave upon wave of new music and praise to glorify His name among the Nations!

I used to tell my daughters that sometimes a very simple decision could potentially be a life-changer.  Reaching out to the “new kid” at school, deciding NOT to go a party, or choosing TO go somewhere else..taking the road a little less travelled.

My life changed in 1972 when I decided to join our youth group on their journey to Dallas, Texas.

Yeah, Woodstock made quite an impact on my generation.

But Explo 72 changed us for eternity.

Life Magazine wrote about it.

And there was even a little book about it.

But in case you haven’t heard of Explo 72, you can read what Wiki says about it HERE!

It would take a book and a village to write about my forty year journey with the Lord.  Suffice it to say,

“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-11, 14

Here’s a few YouTube videos created from The Jesus Explosion record album (yes, the vinyl product) recorded Live at Explo 72.

Randy Matthews:  Didn’t He

Larry Norman: Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation

Johnny Cash:  I See Men as Trees Walkin


What decision is God asking of you today that might make the difference of a lifetime for you–or someone else?

21 thoughts on “Forty years and a lifetime ago…

  1. Oh, my dear friend Linda…

    What a beautiful post you have done here, a tribute to what God has done for you, in you, and through you.

    Forty years… right after high school graduation… your life was intersected by our loving Savior, and I am sure He did the same for most of those who were at that stadium for those six days. I love Billy Graham and his team – Johnny Cash and the others. Powerfully used by God to spread the message of hope, it only takes a spark… a willingness to advance His kingdom… to set a fire going.

    Billy Graham was here in our country many times – and always his crusades were jam packed, and many thousands received Light for their darkness in those meetings.

    Woodstock – yes the early 70’s… I remember that clearly. The gathering of the rock bands, and the soul singers… me and my friends how we looked up to those years, bought their music and their gospel… Jesus Christ Superstar… I don’t know how to love Him era… beautiful and inspiring, yet thousands were led astray.

    God chose to bring you somewhere else, and changed your life for eternity.

    I am so glad that if not on this side of eternity, we will surely see each other face to face someday soon.

    WIth much love

  2. Thank you all for your encouragement. Looking back sure gives us the hindsight into God’s love, goodness, and protection. Where would we be without Him? For God so loved the world that He gave! God interrupted my life, and made it His! What a wonder! I long to praise Him more for that! I can get a headstart now with an eye toward unceasing days to give Him unceasing praise 🙂

    • Anne, Wow, what an honour! Thank you so much!! You are so thoughtful and kind! I didn’t even check my blog site until today. I feek very bummed with myself for not blogging often enough, but everyday I things crowd in that “seem” more pressing–like school work, the “ghost writing” work we’re doing for a precious brother in Ottawa, preparing our house to leave again, etc… I have a written list of thoughts on my heart—but particularly, I long to encourage others, and share more songs. I’ve come across with some incredibly touching ones lately that never fail to draw me into God’s presence and make me weep!! I love you dear sister! Blessings!

      • I love you too Linda, and completely understand about the other things to do. I happen to be off school all this week. Seems kind of strange to have a week for summer break, just one week after beginning classes. 🙂 But I do have studying I need to do. Much love to you and John. You and your family are a huge blessing in my life, and just your presence…even on here…is always an encouragement and blessing. ♥

  3. I just googled Explo ’72, I was there, trusted Christ on June 15, 1972! My husband went, too but was on a different bus than I was, we met a few years later…changed…blessed…thankful…

    • Dawn,
      Hey, how amazing!! It’s so great to hear from someone else who was there! My life changed forever! Praise the Lord!

      I’m really glad you found my blog, and am so grateful for your comments!


  4. I was there. The whole week. June1972. I was 25 years old and a hippy non christian. This was all new to me. After the daily training we’d go to the Cotton Bowl for worship, praise, messages by different speakers then came the Friday night candle light service with 80,000 people from different parts of the world holding candles and the lights were turned off and there was a solemn quiet that to this day I can not explain. I became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Then the following day Saturday over 150,000 gathered for this gigantic christian concert around the downtown Dallas area. It was awesome. The whole thing was awesome. I have since become a pastor and also a missionary. I am almost 70 now and I still challenge young people today to seek and pray for revival and the turning of hearts to Jesus for salvation. To have been there was the experience of a lifetime. Do it again Lord for the youth of this generation. Still ‘one way’ Jesus. My Blessings to you.

    • Thank you for sharing!! Small world! We experienced the same thing for that week! I’m 61 now, but still walking strong with the Lord, and praying with you for the Lord to move among this generation!

  5. Dear Linda, It was great to read your blog and see these images of Explo ’72. I am very interested in obtaining the rights to use one or more of the images you have added here in your blog for a non-commercial documentary on the history of Christianity (including the Jesus Movement of the ’70s). I am especially interested in the image of the candle lighting ceremony, and looking for as good an image as I can find. Yours is one of the best. Do you have any other images of this event? or an even better one of the candle ceremony? Thanks so much for your consideration…

    • Hi! Thank you for your interest!! I think the candle photo is from a June 1972 Dallas newspaper… Probably Dallas Times. Also, their was a small book written about the entire week entitled (naturally), “Explo ’72.” I’m sure it’s out of print. I still have the book and newspaper, but they are in a maze of bins in our garage, and I can’t find them. Feel free to use the Explo pics on my blog–I just wanted you to know that I don’t actually own them. Thanks again!

    • Just re-thinking my comment…the candle photo is probably from the issue of Life magazine that I featured in the blog. I’m sure you could find an original, or at least, a microfiche of the entire magazine, photos and all. Good luck and God Bless!!

      • Linda, thanks so much for your reply…actually, we did find a perfect copy of that issue of “Life” and have ordered it today. I did look up the Dallas Times news article, but everything there is in black and white, so the Life mag will be great to have…thank you so much for your help. That looks like it was a watershed event in many peoples’ lives…! And very important to grasp how the understanding of Jesus took a quantum leap through the “Jesus Movement” events of those times. Thanks again!!!

  6. Linda, with the passing of Rev. Graham I am reminded of my amazing experience of attending Explo72. Our high school youth group from Appleton WS road down on buses after fund raising earlier that year. That experience not only sparked my love for Jesus, but also for my girlfriend Joyce, whom later became my wife! The Lord has blessed us with five children (the youngest in youth ministry at the same church) six grandchildren, and a successful business. God is good!! I came across the ‘Life” article while sorting through memorabilia after my Moms passing last year. I can see her welcoming Billy home….

  7. I was there, too, LInda, and accepted Christ the night before the huge “Woodall” concert the next day. What a wonderful day that was.

  8. I was there at Explo ’72.
    A young girl, not quite 15 years old, from the tiny community of Norwood, Colorado, I traveled all by myself on a Greyhound bus from Grand Junction, Colorado to Dallas, Texas. This experience lit a fire in me that the whitewater years of my teens and college years, could not quench. Slowly reduced to smoldering embers, it still outlasted the torture to my soul, brought on by my many sinful choices, and so sweetly and poignantly re-ignited many years later, as I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, and began nurturing and developing the precious gift of music God had formed in me.

    I hadn’t realized until very recently what a transforming and God-ordained experience Explo ’72 was for me. God was definitely there at Explo ’72. He saw me in that crowd of 80,000 young people and has never taken His eyes off of me.

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