“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
As you’ve probably heard, Pastor Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord yesterday morning at 99 years of age.
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I remember one time, I was with him in Portland, Oregon, where he had just preached. He left the stage, and we were making our way to the car. I was going back to the hotel with him, and people were lined up on each side just in awe of this man of God. We got in the car and were driving out. Billy was in the back seat next to his son, Franklin. His longtime friend and aide T.W. Wilson was driving; I was riding shotgun.
I wanted to compliment Billy on his sermon, and I turned around and said, “Billy, that was a great message tonight.”
He looked at me with those steely blue eyes and said, “It’s just gospel.”
I turned around and thought, “OK!” I knew that, but I was trying to compliment him. Then I turned back around and said, “Well, I loved your point about Jesus re-sensitizing your conscience.”
He said, “Well, He can!”
Here’s what I learned: You couldn’t pin a compliment on him. It was like water off a duck’s back.
How can a man be in the position he was in and not have that go to his head? It’s been said that it takes a steady hand to hold a full cup, and God entrusted Billy with a full cup of responsibility during his lifetime.
Billy just liked to sit around and chat and be a regular person. He would be as interested in you as you were in him—which was hard for me to comprehend. Why would he want to ask my opinion or listen to what I had to say? Billy was the epitome of grace and humility and kindness—whether with presidents and celebrities or with the waitress who served him lunch or a person on the street who recognized him and stopped him to talk. Like Jesus, he always seemed to take a great interest in individuals, and I think that has been one of the secrets of his success.
He often has said, “I’m just a country preacher,” and though it may sound like a feigned humility, he was simply telling you the truth about himself. Raised up by God in a singular way to be a pastor to presidents and other world leaders, as well as an evangelist to the world at large, when it’s all said and done, Billy was one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever known. He was “just a country preacher” who was elevated by God to a level that very few others have ever been to, if any.
I feel that Billy Graham is the most Christ-like person I’ve ever met—though not without his human shortcomings. He would be the first to admit those.
Billy Graham practiced what he preached—and he preached love. He loved his wife, Ruth, and his family with all of his heart. I’ve never seen a husband and wife more in love than Billy and Ruth, yet they would have their little disagreements like any couple. The way they would interact was just charming to watch. Ruth was in every way his equal, with a great wit and sense of humor, and you could tell he loved to be around her.
Since her death, Billy longed for to be reunited with Ruth in Heaven and to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Now, he is with both Ruth and Jesus. So we celebrate for him, and we mourn the loss of a godly influence on our nation and the world.
I thank God for Billy Graham and his legacy, and pray that God comforts his family during this time.