Yesterday a great man passed away. In all I have read, seen, and heard, from him and his family, he would not call himself a great man, rather he was humble. Yet the reason I would classify Billy Graham as great is because he “finished well.” He crossed the invisible line of this world and walked right into the next living out fully the vision God had placed upon his life. He had spent his whole life living for this day. That is why it seems fitting to call this special day his “Going Home Celebration!”
If you have ever heard Billy Graham speak, for even a few minutes, it didn’t take very long before you heard him mention eternity. It is the reason for God’s saving grace. Like all believers, it was the day he had planned for, it was the day he had talked about, preached about, and now for him it was here. As we used to sing in the chorus of this song “What a Day That Will Be” written by Jim Hill, believers often envision what it will be like when we finally see Jesus. Now for Billy Graham this is real. He is home!
What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
One of the first times my husband and I saw Billy Graham was in Cincinnati at at Crusade Ministry. We were dating at the time. It was an awesome sight to see. Thousands of people were gathered, there wasn’t an empty seat available that night and yet they were still having to turn bus loads of people away outside. By law, they could not allow any more in the stadium. The sermon was simple and direct, yet ever so moving. Billy Graham never shirked away from calling sin-sin. But he always pointed out, God loved us so much that He sent His only son to die for our sins. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16)
The one additional thing that stood out, and still stands out to this day, is that when it came time for an offering Billy Graham said that they would not be taking one that night. The reason, they had already reached their budget goals the previous night for the entire crusade. So instead, they would like to ask that whatever money we had planned to put in the offering that night be taken to our local church. That spoke volumes to me, but more importantly it touched the heart of my date that night!
Fast forward a few months later, the Hour of Decision, a Billy Graham Radio Ministry, was playing on the radio late at night as that same guy was driving back from Cincinnati to Columbus. He had been making his routine weekend visit to see his “girl” when the invitation was being given on a long dark stretch of highway. It was right there, with tears streaming, that he pulled over on the side of the road and gave his heart and life to the Lord. We were married a few months later.
Through the years, my husband and I have referred back to these snapshot moments many times. We may not have know it at the time, but they were significant in our life plans and the vision God had for our lives. During those moments God used the Billy Graham ministry to imprint upon two young lives, both personally and spiritually. That impact is endearing, even more so now as we see it being lived out in our children, and now grandchildren’s lives.
Thank you Lord, for the gifts you give and for those lives who serve you well. And, Welcome Home Billy Graham, this is your “Going Home Celebration!”