Daddy and Billy Graham
This is a picture of my daddy at a peanut farm we owned for a short period of time. We lived in Texas, but trying to sell a car, he drove all the way up into Oklahoma before finding someone willing to trade. Part of the trade was this old, run down non-working peanut farm.
I was only 4 or 5, and I didn't like going to the farm. As you can see from the picture, it was rather rustic. It was overgrown with weeds, its buildings falling down and there was no electricity. It was really frightening...especially at night...in the dark. All I wanted to do was go home to my bed with the pretty sheets and turn on lights.
Tonight at 7:56 will mark the moment four years ago that my daddy was absent from his body and present with the Lord. While I know that and I rejoice in that truth, I miss him. I miss his unconditional love and his wisdom, practical common sense and oh, those prayers.... The world should miss his presence for he was filled with the Spirit of God, the Word of God and thus the wisdom of God.
As I reflect and remember today my daddy, I also hope to see or at least listen to the funeral service for Billy Graham. When I heard of Billy Graham's passing, I wept for us all. My daddy...Billy Graham...gone. Mighty men of God no longer with us. I cried, thinking the world is a darker place because their light is no longer in the world.
While these two never met, they were connected. My parents were saved as a result of the Billy Graham crusade and the resulting revival in Texas during the 1950's. People on fire for the Lord going door to door calling on people and sharing the gospel. Imagine that today. But, praise God the boldness and courage of these revived people.
My parents shared that we'd only been in Houston a short time when a man knocked on the door, introduced himself and asked if he could come inside. He asked if my parents had a Bible and when they responded it was packed away somewhere, he handed them a pocket New Testament. After chatting for a while and inviting them to church, he asked if he could pray with them. I remember my daddy telling the story and sharing that it was the first time in his life he had prayer in his home or heard someone pray audibly for him. As they watched the man leave and climb into his big ole limousine, they wondered what had just happened. Yes, this was a very rich man from Texas going door to door in Jesus name.
Deciding to accept his invitation to attend church, they found everyone friendly. They couldn't understand why people kept saying they were praying for them as they thought they were doing really well. Better job, nice house and certainly experiencing a better life than either he or my mother had ever known. It wasn't long before they discovered just how much they needed those prayers. One Sunday, they walked the aisle surrendering their lives to Christ. It might even have been while "Just as I am" was playing!
Their hearts and the direction of their lives changed in an instant. As a result, they lost friends and opportunities. But, their personal relationship with Jesus meant more to them than public opinion. They were shunned, shrugged off, called fanatics, and discounted all because they loved Jesus. They were not perfect people, but they were consistent in their love for and the pursuit of Jesus. They loved him to the end, and in the end, are in His presence and have a crown of righteousness.
But, they took their light with them. I look at the world, and it reminds me of that old, run down non-working peanut farm. It is overgrown with evil and lives are falling apart. The darkness around us is frightening. But, I am reminded that we are the light now, and we must burn brighter than ever so that we can light up the void these mighty saints have left in this dark world.
Oh, that we would love Jesus as they loved Jesus. That our personal and intimate relationship with Jesus would be of such value and worth to us that we would be willing to boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus with anyone at any time. That we would have the clarity and focus to put our relationship with Jesus above all others...willing to be shunned, shrugged off, called fanatics and discounted all because of our love for and the pursuit of Jesus.
Daddy, thank you for your legacy of faith. Thank you that in those last hours and minutes 4 years ago, I knew that I knew that I knew you were about to enter into the presence of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you, Billy Graham, for your obedience to share Christ so that my parents could follow Jesus and introduce me to my Jesus.
As I always do on this day and in honor of my daddy, here are links to his novel and some of the booklets all of which he wrote in his 90's and as a blind man. Be blessed.