My Memories of and Tribute to Paul Harvey
By Norman Geisler
March 1, 2009
My memories of Paul Harvey go back to 1957 in Wheaton, Illinois when I heard him on the radio. He said that he had just visited a talented young man in the hospital whose career was being nipped in the bud by cancer. Paul said he went to encourage him, but he came away encouraged because the young man looked at him and said, “I do not believe that the Divine Architect of the universe ever builds a staircase that leads to nowhere!” I have used this many times since then to encourage people who are experiencing what they think is a premature loss.
My fondest memory of Paul Harvey, however, goes back to the 1970s when I was an interim pastor in Oak Park, Illinois. As I mounted the pulpit one Sunday, I was surprised to see Paul Harvey in the audience (I learned later that it was his church). I felt a lot like the man who survived a county flood who asked St. Peter if he could give his testimony in heaven. St. Peter obliged but reminded him that Noah would be in the audience!
After preaching a message on a Christian view of pleasure, I was greeted by Paul Harvey at the door with the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me after a sermon: “I have been waiting for many years to hear a message like that, and I do not think that you can beat it. But I will be here next Sunday to see if you can.” I don’t remember the title of the next sermon, but I certainly was motivated by his words to do my best. The next Sunday I was greeted by Paul with a signed record of his which I dearly treasure. It has on it my favorite illustration about the Incarnation of Christ titled “My Christmas Story.” As our six children were growing up, we played it for them each Christmas. It is still one of their fond memories of Christmas.
A humorous anecdote followed Paul Harvey’s comment to me after church. I had used a joke at the beginning of the sermon that said, “In view of the recent success of the film ‘Jaws,’ I think we need another one for older people called ‘Gums!’” The next week the editor of the local news paper asked me, “Did you really say what Paul Harvey said you did on his program today?” I asked what he said, and she repeated the joke I had told at church and that Paul Harvey had used with my name on his program. I confessed that I had said that, and added, “I also think we need another movie call ‘Braces’ for young people!” To my chagrin, she printed the whole thing in our local news paper.