Remembering Billy Graham

Reverend William "Billy" Graham--Just As I Am

Reverend William “Billy” Graham–Just As I Am

I met him once. Rev. Billy Graham.

It was a Monday night. A friend and I were on our way to Art Survey 101, and we had just reached the third floor. He rounded the corner from the hall, courteously dipped his head, and asked, “Would you know where the so-and-so office is?”

Okay, you know he didn’t really say, so-and-so. It’s been 25 years, and the tiny details are long gone. Suffice it to say, it was an ordinary question. And we gave an ordinary answer. “On the 2nd floor, just to your right.”

He thanked us kindly, and down he went.

But my friend and I? We were left staring.

“Was that who I think it was?”

We joked about running after him. To shake his hand. To ask him about his life. I guess if it were today, we’d have begged him for a selfie.

But we didn’t do any of it because we figured we’d look too much like groupies.

I kind of wish we’d done it anyway.

Now, at 99 years of age, Franklin “Billy” Graham has passed away. Can you imagine the party in heaven as they welcomed him home? How many people will he meet who are there because of his preaching, either directly or indirectly?

A radio host described Dr. Graham as having “a presence.” And Wheaton College President Dr. Ryken wrote, he was “renowned for his humility, transparency, simplicity, and integrity.”

From our 30-second exchange, I would agree with both. He stood tall but was clearly humble. He was known the world over, but he acted simply.  He was stately, but without an ounce of pompousness.

I know, it seems silly to assess someone in less than a minute, but somehow with him it was possible. He was authentic.

I can still see his gentle smile.

And yet, perhaps it wasn’t just thirty seconds. It was a lifetime of feeling like I knew him.

On the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, I had Billy Graham in two. His son-in-law was my dentist. No, the famous evangelist never walked in on a tooth cleaning. But you tend to look closer at people when there’s a connection.

I’m sad to say that as a child, I wasn’t always thrilled to watch him on television. I wanted the story, and he was “just standing there preaching.”

But even in my childish wants, I recognized Graham’s firm passion. His boldness. The way he said “Jesus”—with all the authority that comes with the name, and yet all the tender love of one who has met Him.

And then there was the altar call. The stream of people pouring down to ask for Christ’s salvation. The song “Just As I Am” pulling them out of their seats.

And every time, no matter how many evenings we had watched the crusade, no matter how frustrated I was at the long hour, that moment choked me up.

And I found myself praying that more would stand up and walk down.

As I grew, I realized Dr. Graham was telling a story. With his distinctive delivery, he laid out the story of the cross. Of Christ’s death and resurrection. Of His sacrifice for each and every person “within the sound of [his] voice.” And beyond.

Then he told the story of those people—the ones listening in those stadium seats. On their couches. In their cars.

No, he didn’t know each one individually, but he knew them collectively. Because he knew his own heart.

“I’m a sinner. I need a Savior…Are you ready?”

I can still hear him saying it. His voice echoing across the air.

He spoke to millions. And yet he never bragged of it. He didn’t use his platform for political clout. Didn’t raise zillions of dollars for his own mansion.

Instead? He just preached Jesus. Living out 1 Corinthians and Galatians and Jeremiah: “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”— “In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do I do that?

Not all of us are television evangelists. Not all of us are called to stand on a platform and speak to millions. But we are all called to boast only in the Gospel. And to live out that good news for our neighbors.

I don’t know what Dr. Graham would have done if my friend and I had run after him that day. If we’d had the technology, would he have laughed and joined in the selfie? Maybe. I don’t know him well enough to say.

But I think, from the times I spent watching him preach, from the few seconds that I met him, from the testimonies of those who knew him best, he would say it doesn’t really matter if I knew him. Or if I know someone else who knew him.

What matters is if I know his Lord. And if I share Him with others.

Because, as Graham’s messages repeated, we don’t know the day or the moment when it will be too late to make a decision. We don’t know what the next hour will hold.

Could there have been a truer statement for the world we find ourselves in today? This week? This month?

Deadly accidents, fatal illnesses, school shootings…

This world is not eternal.

But the next one is. Who we know now affects where we’ll be there.

And, no, that doesn’t mean “30 seconds with Billy.” Do those around us know Who it is?

As he predicted, the news reports stated, “Billy Graham, evangelist…dead at age 99.”

But he had an answer to that. His paraphrase of D.L. Moody. I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times in the past few days, but it bears repeating.

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Straight to the loving arms of Jesus.

I wish I HAD followed Dr. Graham that day. To shake his hand and thank him. For his testimony. For his example.

But one day, I’ll have another chance to do that at that new address. And I pray that when I get there, I’ll find that my own life has produced fruit. That, like Graham, I’ll meet people who are there because of my testimony, either directly or indirectly.

Not because I’m some extraordinary person. But because Jesus is.

Praise God, I have met HIM.

And I know Him well!

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, He died on a cross, He rose again, and He asked us to repent of our sins and receive Him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
–Billy Graham

A Story of Loss on a Day of Love: When All Your Plans Go Awry

Be Mine: I wanted to be her Valentine

I wanted to be her Valentine

I wanted to be her Valentine.

A wonderful group of college peers had pulled together enough cash to let me fly home to see her. Back then, tickets were cheaper if you bought them 17 days in advance, so I counted my days and bought my ticket.

For Valentine’s Day.

Bags packed, I had a plan. My newlywed husband would drive me to school, we’d attend chapel, then he’d put me on a plane, and I’d surprise her as her Valentine. Or maybe she would be mine.

Ahhh…best laid plans and all of that… Continue reading

How to Run a Marathon: Day 1

Okay, if you’ve been following my saga, you know today isn’t really “Day 1.” That was actually 18 months ago. Before my sprained ankle, before his hurt knees, before my broken nose….

…And one day after “The Promise.”

That was the day I learned it was all mental. And I was nowhere ready for an ACT in the sport. Continue reading

I Still Do–Even When We’re Limping Along

I Still Do--even when we're limping along

I Still Do–even when we’re limping along

The goal was romantic. What I didn’t take into account were injuries. I guess I figured I’d be hurting. After all, I hate the sport.

But my husband loves it. It’s always been his release. So I never expected to be able to do more than him. Yet suddenly he was in major pain, and I was burning up the road.

That is until a few weeks before.

Then all bets were off. Continue reading

For the Things that Go Bump in the Night

Light of the World

Light of the World

 

The Christmas story never grows old, does it? –Probably because it keeps speaking to us no matter where we are in life.

This week, I was honored to have some of those thoughts, “A Light in Our Darkness,” published as a guest post on BeautifullyBroken.blog  (just below my bio 😉 ) Continue reading

3 Ways to Enjoy Autumn Year-Round

Anybody else LOVING the colors of the season? I drive around town and just want to pull over every two seconds to take pictures! The only thing that stops me is I’m afraid people will start calling the cops because “this crazy lady is taking pictures of their yard.” That and the fact that sooner or later I need to get where I’m supposed to be going… Continue reading

The Marathon of Marriage: When You Have to Run in the Dark…

For those of you waiting for news of our marathon training, it’s been uphill and down—perhaps more figuratively than literally because, hey, we live in the Midwest.

No, our town’s not as flat as some places, but once when my daughter was learning to drive, we had to practice proper wheel turns for parking on a hill—Uphill, turn your wheels to the left. Downhill, turn them to the right—Finally, I found a spot and told her to show me what to do. She pulled over, looked at the road, and said, “Ok, but does this hill go up or down?”

Our town is pretty flat.

Our running? Well, some days it’s pretty flat, too. Other days…mountains…valleys…even a few volcanoes in there. Suffice it to say, it’s still on the horizon.

But more about that at a later date—I promise!

First, I want to tell you more about this husband that I’m running with—not just in training, but in life. Continue reading