Reverend Billy Graham, who died early Wednesday at the age of 99, was called “America’s Pastor” for good reason. For over 70 years he worked in ministry, preaching, evangelizing, counseling U.S Presidents and meeting with world leaders. Millions have come to know Jesus as Savior through his sharing of the Gospel.
Those of us in the Christian community may be mourning the passing of this spiritual giant, but Rev. Graham has been looking forward to this day for many years.
“My home is in heaven,” Billy Graham once said. “I’m just traveling through this world. 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.”
It was that eternal perspective that emboldened the North Carolina native to speak truth to power. That was because Dr. Graham didn’t consider true power to be found in money, fame or even the hallowed halls of government.
Instead, true power, he contended, was found in the resurrected Christ.
“Christ has an answer to the social problems,” he preached decades ago. “He can meet them in His resurrection power and glory.
It was Dr. Graham’s enduring humility that most struck me. He seemed unfazed by his access and influence. He lived the scrupulous life his entire life. Though slowed by numerous physical health afflictions in old age, he allowed his frailty to be contrasted with God’s strength.
Dr. Graham never lost sight of the church’s primary calling: evangelism and the exposition of the Gospel and the defense of orthodox doctrine.
He was a man who appealed to people of every class and culture. He was approachable and down-to-earth. He didn’t fancy himself a theologian and crossed denominational lines throughout his storied ministry.
In the end, Billy Graham wanted his legacy to be marked and measured by devotion.
“I want to be remembered as a person who was faithful to God, faithful to my family, faithful to the Scriptures, and faithful to my calling … a man who dedicated his life to the Lord and never looked back.”
The world is a poorer place today with the passing of this lion of the Christian faith. But we will see him again.
I hope you’ll listen to Thursday’s special Focus on the Family radio program. It’ll feature a 1998 Ted Talk from Dr. Graham titled, “Addressing the Human Condition.”