This is my tribute to Reverend Billy Graham, his life and legacy will live on. Minister to millions and known affectionately as “America’s Pastor”, Billy Graham passed away this week at the age of 99. During his 60+ years of ministry Billy Graham spoke to over 2 billion people. Through the years, he taught the message of substitutionary atonement. Through television, radio and the great crusades, Reverend Billy Graham led thousands, upon thousands, to Christ.
On the morning I heard of his passing I was sitting at my office desk. The news broke with the sudden account of his death. I stopped what I was doing and listened to the news headlines. My breathing momentarily stopped as I heard the news. I looked out my office window and saw the sun rising bright. It had been days of dreary, cloudy weather and cold winter days preceded this event. I exhaled.
The sun shone brightly and stroked my face. I felt God’s warmth in that moment and, I praised Him. I thanked God for Billy Graham. I envisioned all of Heaven welcoming Billy home to its heart. I saw this in my mind; angels and loved ones, saved fellowmen and women who came to Christ because of Mr. Graham, all welcoming him home. And as Billy stood before them, with his loving wife of many years, Ruth at his side, Jesus approached.
I saw this vision of the light brightly before him, reaching out to him, and welcoming him. I saw our loving Savior Jesus pull Billy close to embrace him, and I heard Him whisper, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
At church service this weekend, our Pastor celebrated the legacy of Billy Graham by ending the service the same way Billy did at the end of his rallies. A call to Christ, and with a song, “Just as I am”.
The words rang out,
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou biddest me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”
Through all his years of ministry he walked with many, visited thousands, and sat with presidents, but the beautiful thing that comes to my mind is the impression of his simple life of substitution. He saw death row inmates making caskets and said that he wanted to someday be buried in one of those. Graham’s death was described as a very peaceful passing.
The news reported, throughout the procession of his casket being taken to lie in wait, crowds gathered alongside Interstate 40 to catch a glimpse of the Billy Graham’s motorcade. People took pictures with their cell phones, some stood on the shoulder on I-40, and on overpasses spanning the highway, to see the hearse bearing Graham’s body.
He will be laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway, buried in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007. His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who cannot afford one. He will be buried in a casket by someone on death row, a fine illustration of his teaching of substitutionary atonement.
Thank you Billy Graham for your work and ministry. At the center of your heart was, and I believe still is, Jesus Christ. You are a beacon for many. You’re legacy will live on. Because of you, many are with you today.
I invite you to listen to this message, one of Billy Graham’s last message of hope for the world.