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March 12, 2018
He makes me lie down… Psalm 23:2
Following the death of John the Baptist, Jesus knew His disciples needed quiet time to process what had taken place. He knew how difficult it was to minister to others while their own hearts were breaking. So He invited them to come away by themselves and get some rest. (Mark 6:31)
I, too, have heard the Lord whisper that same invitation to me in a unique way following my father’s move to Heaven and the swirl of events that were triggered by it. I received the call about my father at 7:40 a.m. ET on February 21. On Friday, February 23, my son drove me four hours to The Cove in Western North Carolina, where some of my family was gathering. My two daughters, their spouses and my three granddaughters followed. Early the next morning, we rode in a motorcade escorting Daddy from The Cove to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Then my son drove me 3 hours back to my home. Tuesday I drove back to Charlotte in order to be on the plane early the next morning as family members accompanied Daddy to Washington, DC. We traveled by motorcade to the Nation’s Capitol, where Daddy was laid in honor in the Rotunda. Following a brief, meaningful ceremony, I stood for over 90 minutes greeting Cabinet officials, Senators, and Congressmen who came to show their respect and offer their condolences. That afternoon I stood for 3 hours to speak to anyone who came into the Rotunda, from US Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch and Justice Alito, to people whose identities I’ll never know, but whose tears flowed freely with mine. That night I went to the White House as the guest of the President and First Lady for a private family dinner. The next morning I traveled once again by motorcade to the Capitol as Daddy was removed by an honor guard, then we escorted him to the plane for what would be his last flight, and the return trip to Charlotte. He was taken once again by motorcade back to the Library. That night I attended a dinner for about two hundred extended family members, and also sat in on a program briefing for the funeral service. Early the next morning I found myself once again in a motorcade that took me to the Library to await the beginning of the noon-time service. Following the service, I stood in line to speak to people until no one else was left to greet in the tent. At 3:30 p.m. a processional was formed, and we walked with Daddy to the gravesite where after a brief service, he was finally laid to rest. I returned to the hotel, and the next morning drove the three hours back home.
To say I was beyond exhaustion physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, would not come close to describing my state of being. But the Lord knew I was poised to plunge into frantic activity in order to catch up on two weeks of work that had been paused. He knew that while I needed rest…quiet…isolation…I wouldn’t take it unless I was forced to take it. So Sunday afternoon I became ill. I assumed it was just total exhaustion, or the effects of the icy wind under the funeral tent, but later in the week I was diagnosed with the worst strain of the flu. For the past eight days I have been forced to lie down. To do nothing but rest. By myself. I know the Lord who is my Shepherd is the One who has made me lie down.
In my fevered state I have only been able to process a small portion of what I’ve experienced. Yet some things are clear. I do know that my father’s life…and death…promoted the Gospel, exalted Jesus Christ, and glorified God! I do know that in the three weeks since word of my father’s Homegoing was made public, the Gospel has been proclaimed worldwide over and over in every conceivable way by individuals, news media, ministries, entertainers, talk shows, churches…and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
On a personal level, I also know I couldn’t have made it through all of the above without your prayers! You, God’s people, have carried me through, not just somehow, but triumphantly! Thank you with all my heart!
I also know, after I have rested a while and recuperated from this illness, that there is one thing I will do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
For the Glory of His Great Name,
February 22, 2018
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown… 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Until 7:30 a.m. on the morning of February 21st, when I received the news that Daddy had moved to Heaven, I had enjoyed watching the Olympics. Besides being thrilling to me, from time to time I have been able to catch life-lessons from the competition.
February 21, 2018
ANNE’S TRIBUTE TO HER FATHER
My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling.
But when I think of him I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else.
For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life.
I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too.
While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past.
It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door.
It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?
February 20, 2018
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…
No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you…
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Isaiah 64:6-7, Acts 3:19
As I listen to the unending speculation regarding how a young man could open fire and kill 17 innocent people, then listen to the solutions that are offered, my spirit is actually outraged and grieved. While some of the suggestions may have validity, the ones I have heard and read are more like band-aid treatments for what is a deep, gaping wound in our nation–a wound that is becoming infected. No one person, no one administration, no one political party is responsible for the outbreak of lawlessness and violence that is gripping our nation. We are all responsible! Our entire culture is to blame!
February 17, 2018
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord… Psalm 121:1-2
I am at a loss for words. What else can be said about the horrific shooting in Parkland, Florida? So many shattered lives have left me numb, with a nauseous knot in the pit of my stomach. I want to gather every one of those mothers, every one of those fathers, every one of those siblings, every one of those classmates, every one of those teachers and coaches and administrators, every one of them, and place them in the arms of Jesus.
O God, hear our sobs! Our screams! Our silence! Our pain is white-hot. We are angry. We are broken. We are oppressed. Please, comfort the grieving. Speak peace to the fearful. Draw near to those who are crushed in spirit. Bind up their wounds.