Billy Graham had been, with C. S. Lewis, among the 20th century’ s most important figures in evangelicalism. I certainly not had the honor of conference Lewis, but I did know Billy, who died last week at 99. He changed my life.
I first fulfilled him on my grandmother’ ersus porch in Kennebunkport, Maine, within 1985. In her 80s, the girl was frail but sharp. These people sat together and Billy kept her hand while talking about the particular Bible. Later she described this as one of the most peaceful days of the girl life.
Soon after, I had my own personal encounter along with Billy. As I wrote in “ Decision Points, ” he inquired me to go for a walk along with him around Walker’ s Stage. I was captivated by him. He previously a powerful presence, full of kindness plus grace, and a keen mind. This individual asked about my life in Texas. We talked to him about Laura and our little girls.
Then I mentioned some thing I’ d been thinking about for any while— that reading the Holy bible might help make me a better person. He or she told me about one of the Bible’ s many fundamental lessons: One should strive to much better, but we’ re all sinners who earn God’ s really like not through our good actions, but through His grace. It had been a profound concept, one I did so not fully grasp that day. Yet Billy had planted a seeds. His thoughtful explanation made the particular soil less hard, the brambles less thick.
He told me about one of the Bible’ s most fundamental lessons: You should strive to be better, but we’ lso are all sinners who earn God’ s love not through the good deeds, but through Their grace.
Soon after we got back to Texas, a proposal from Billy arrived. It was the copy of the Living Bible. He previously inscribed it and included the reference to Philippians 1: 6: “ And I am certain that God, exactly who began the good work within a person, will continue his work till it is finally finished on the day whenever Christ Jesus returns. ”
God’ s i9000 work within me began within earnest with Billy’ s outreach. His care and his teachings had been the real beginning of my trust walk— and the start of the end associated with my drinking. I couldn’ capital t have given up alcohol on my own. However in 1986, at 40, I lastly found the strength to quit. That will strength came from love I had experienced from my earliest days plus from faith I didn’ capital t fully discover until my old age.
God’ s work within me started in earnest with Billy’ t outreach. His care and his theories were the real beginning of our faith walk — and the start of end of my drinking. I actually couldn’ t have given up alcoholic beverages on my own.
I was furthermore fortunate to witness Billy’ h remarkable capacity to minister in order to everyone he met. When I has been governor of Texas, I sitting behind Billy at one of their crusades in San Antonio. Their powerful message of God’ s i9000 love moved people to tears plus motivated hundreds to come forward in order to commit themselves to Christ. I recall thinking about all the crusades Billy got led over the years around the world, and his capability to open up hearts to Christ. This good man was a classic shepherd of the Lord.
Perhaps his the majority of meaningful service came on September. 14, 2001. After the 9/11 episodes, I asked Billy to business lead the ecumenical service at Wa National Cathedral. It was no simple task. America was on bended knee— frightened, angry, uncertain. Since only Billy Graham could, this individual helped us feel God’ s i9000 arms wrapped around our grieving country.
“ We come together today, ” he began, “ to affirm the conviction that God cares for all of us, whatever our ethnic, religious or even political background may be. The Holy bible says that he is ‘ the particular God of all comfort, who conveniences us in all our troubles. ’ ” God comforted a country that day through a very unique servant.
In a difficult moment, Billy reminded me— and us all— exactly where we can find strength. And he assisted us start to heal by providing three lessons: the mystery plus reality of evil, our requirement for each other, and hope for the present plus future. “ As a Christian, ” Graham said at the 9/11 support, “ I have hope, not just with this life, but for heaven and the lifestyle to come. ”
A final story: One night time while dad was away on vacation during his presidency, mother and am had dinner at the White Home. Eventually we got to talking about religious beliefs and who gets to go to paradise. I made the point that the Brand new Testament says clearly that to access heaven, one must believe in Christ. Mother asked about the devout who also don’ t believe in Jesus yet do God’ s work simply by serving others. She then had taken advantage of one of the benefits of being 1st lady. She picked up the phone plus asked the White House owner to call Reverend Graham.
It wasn’ t long before his reassuring The southern part of voice was on the line. He informed us, as I recall, “ Barbara and George, I believe what is composed in the New Testament. But don’ t play God. He chooses who goes to heaven, not a person. ” Any doctrinal certitude offered way to a calm trust that will God had this figured out much better than I did.
Those of us who were blessed to know Billy Graham benefited from his heavy convictions and personal example, his knowledge and humility, his grace plus purity of heart. We understood that his life was a present from the Almighty. And I rejoice which he is now in the company of God, whom this individual loved so much and served therefore well.
George W. Bush was your 43rd president of the United States.