Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, who passed away on Easter Sunday this year, is hailed today as the “dean of American preaching.” But, if Gardner C. Taylor had had his way, he would have never been a preacher at all. According to a Christianity Today feature story, Dr. Taylor was born in 1918 to Reverend Washington and Selina Taylor, and he inherited “Baptist genes” that many assumed would lead him into pastoral ministry. But Taylor said, “I recoiled from the thought of being a preacher. I wanted to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer. My boyhood friends in Louisiana tried to discourage me from that idea, though; at that time, no black person had ever been admitted to the Louisiana bar.” Taylor pursued his goal, and after being admitted to the University of Michigan Law School, he was well on his way to a career in law.
However, shortly before leaving home to go to college, he was involved in a tragic car accident. One night in rural Louisiana, another vehicle suddenly cut across his path. He said, “I tried to avoid them, but I couldn’t.” Both of the passengers in the other car — two white men — died. And the only witnesses to the accident were a white farmer and a white oil refinery worker.
Being a young black man, Gardner Taylor was worried about how everything would turn out. He said, “In that day, for a white person to tell the truth about a black person in that situation was incredible; but those men told the truth. I would not be here today if they had not.” That event was the turning point in his life when he finally decided to accept the call to preach. He said, “I was surprised by God’s grace. I had been brooding about my future for a long time, but that was the defining moment.”
Many have testified to the power of God’s grace in their lives. It was God’s grace that delivered a young Gardner C. Taylor from the possible deep South, Jim Crow devastating consequences of what was already a tragic situation. But more importantly, it was God’s grace that led him to salvation in Jesus Christ and to the calling to preach the Gospel which caused Him to become known as one of the greatest preachers who walked the earth. Even though he was a very humble man who said he “wanted to be remembered as just a preacher”, many call him “the prince of preachers” and “the dean of American preaching.” And it is God’s grace that can deliver you from the even greater consequences of your own sins, faults, and failures, and give you new life to be who God has made you to be and do what God has gifted you to do. Allow me to explain to you what I mean. Continue reading “GLMX #246: Gardner C. Taylor, the Prince of Preachers, was “Surprised by Grace” After a Life-Changing Fatal Car Accident”