The Reverend Billy Graham

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost”    ~ Billy Graham

For 99 years, he kept his character. He wasn’t perfect. He admits moments of deep discouragement, at which time he stated: “I go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” Simple.

Billy Graham was certainly a man ahead of his time, in many ways.

During his 1953 Crusade in Chattanooga, when the head usher insisted on segregated seating, Mr. Graham personally tore down the dividing ropes between the races. From then on, all of his Crusades would be integrated.

He developed a warm friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. and strategized privately with him about their respective roles in the civil rights struggle.

On a scorching July 20, 1957 (about one month before my birth), approximately 100,000 people packed the stands and outfield of Yankee Stadium for what was intended to be the final day of the New York Crusade. Another 20,000 people were turned away.

The Crusade had already been extended once, for an extra three weeks. But seeing the overwhelming hunger for the Gospel, another extension was discussed. Mr. Graham was already exhausted from the first six weeks of preaching, but he felt no peace about stopping.

The decision was made to extend the meetings for as long as Madison Square Garden was available: Labor Day weekend. Amazing.

I love the truth of what Billy Graham saw in those thousands of people: a hunger. Powerful.

A word that could describe Billy Graham’s life is consistent. He had one pressing goal in his life and he stayed at it and at it and at it.

As the news stated, Mr. Graham provided spiritual counsel for every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. His love for God and for people crossed all political, racial and societal lines. He didn’t judge. He just loved the Lord and that covered all conversations.

Billy Graham died in his sleep early Wednesday morning. Though no family members were present, his passing was peaceful, stated Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

DeMoss said Graham’s personal physician, Dr. Lucian Rice, described it this way: “He just wore out.”

Graham’s beloved wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007. She is buried at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the woodsy Prayer Garden at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Engraved on her memorial stone are these words: “End of construction ~ Thank you for your patience.”

The story goes that Ruth was driving on a long stretch of highway, under construction work. There were lane changes and arrows and lots of things that needed full attention. At the end of that stretch of highway, there was a sign that stated those words: End of construction. Thank you for your patience. Ruth thought that was a befitting statement on her grave.

Clever and true.

Billy Graham, like his wife, will be buried in a birch plywood coffin built by inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La. The coffins cost $215 each.

I love that so much. Thoughtful and simple and caring till the end.

What an incredible legacy. He is personally responsible for changing millions of lives. And we well know that those lives translate into generations of changed lives. Now THAT is a legacy. We are forever grateful, Mr. Graham.

 

Author: Rebecca Hendrixson

Hello, I'm Rebecca. I am a wife and mother and freelance writer. I love to share honest thoughts, anecdotes, incidents and encouragement. I am documenting my one year of being 60 years old. Join me on the journey. And please leave comments or send me an email. I will respond. We are all in this together. Come be my comrade.

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