The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same. - Billy Graham, speaking of Jesus) Click To Tweet
Reverend Billy Graham passed away February 21, 8 a.m. at the age of 99. I thank God for his life and legacy. We pray for those He left behind.
As a child and young woman I remember sitting before our family’s black and white TV as Billy Graham spoke to thousands, boldly proclaiming that Jesus was the only way to heaven and the only source of lasting peace and hope. Because I’d already accepted Jesus into my life, I took his life and ministry for granted. To me, he was a just a preacher with a southern drawl being used by God.
(taken from the Los Angeles Times)
However, when I read His biography, “Just As I Am,” first published in April, 1997, I discovered an amazing man of God whose life and testimony greatly impacted the world. In honor of a man who pursued God with all his might, and changed the world in the pursuing, I’d like to share some things about him worth emulating:
- He was born in 1917, and grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte NC. As he grew, his aspirations led him in the way of professional baseball. However, at the age of 16, out of curiosity he attended the revival meetings of a traveling preacher, Mordecai Ham, and found himself drawn to the preacher’s message of personal sin and a need for repentance. Although he was ‘a good boy,’ the preacher’s words struck Billy and he knew they were directed at his heart, his life. His decision to give his heart to Christ and pursue the calling God gave him changed everything. In obedience he left his dream of baseball and enrolled in Bible college. Upon finishing several years of Bible school he became a Southern Baptist preacher. Later, he traveled the country leading crusades and preaching the very message that had changed his life.
- In the 1950’s, his revival meetings were unsegregated.
- Personal integrity and his witness for Christ were so important to him throughout his ministry, he set up several safeguards so as to never be alone with another woman other than his wife.
- Although he was friend to every president since Truman, he never used his platform for personal gain.
- He went anywhere God sent him and gave him the platform to share the gospel, even though some of his international crusades were controversial at the time.
- When going into a city for a crusade, he always coordinated with the local churches so as to give a place for new converts to grow in Christ.
- The finances for his crusades were always handled by a separate organization so as not to appear that he was personally profiting from the money given.
As I look at his life, I am reminded this man was nothing special on his own. He grew up as many of us, yet lived a life so unlike ours. How?
- He chose to follow God with his whole being wherever God directed.
- The message of the gospel and the change it had brought to his own life was worth any risk.
- He made certain that his words matched his life as best he could.
- He took steps to make certain his was a life that represented Christ well.
I’d like to close with a quote from his later years. When asked if he would change anything regarding his career he responded:
“I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements. I took too many of them in too many places around the world. If I had it to do over again I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love him.” – Billy Graham.
If I had it to do over again I'd spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love him. - Billy Graham. Click To Tweet
Graham in 2010. (Nell Redmond / Associated Press)
Lord, thank you for this man’s life and legacy. May we as believers emulate his love and devotion to you. May we willingly step out and risk everything for your gospel. May we live even as we speak. Please. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(All photos were taken from a Los Angeles Times article on the life of Billy Graham.
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