Billy Graham, God’s servant, died last Wednesday, February 21, 2018. He was ninety-nine years old. He has been called the Pope of Protestantism, America’s Pastor and Pastor to the Presidents. His impact on global evangelism preaching the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ is unparalleled, and though he is dead his influence will still be felt this side of heaven for years to come.
He and his ministry were unique. He held 417 crusades in 185 countries sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with over 200 million people. No other speaker has had the impact and breadth of influence Billy Graham had. And though he was influential he preferred to be called by his friends, simply, Billy.
I never met him…
Though I never had the opportunity to meet him personally, as a young convert to Christ, my mother took me to one of his crusades when he visited my hometown Jacksonville, Florida in 1961.
We did not arrive in time to find a seat and stood against a wall in the Jacksonville Coliseum during the service. I remember distinctly being inspired by hearing him speak, and subsequently by his lifelong Christian example.
Billy was a role model of integrity. His practice of never being alone with a woman who was not his wife was labeled the ‘Billy Graham Rule.’ Recently Mike Pence has been attacked for emulating it, and Donald Trump has been attacked for not emulating it, that is, being alone too long, with too many women, too many times.
Billy was a role model of integrity.
I read through my Bible every year and the morning Billy died I read the first five chapters of Joshua. Joshua recorded what God said to him, “Moses My servant is dead…Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you: I will not fail you or forsake you,” Joshua 1:2, 5. I believe this reading was providential not coincidental.
Even though death can be anticipated with certitude, it still invades our ranks with a sense of shock and surprise. When God told Joshua Moses was dead, I think it must have created a void, a sense of loss so profound and saddening that it must have evoked some confused thoughts and fear.
As God continues to instruct Israel’s new leader with what will be expected of him it must have seemed overwhelming. Moses’ leadership must have presented some daunting shoes to fill. God comforts Joshua, “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you: I will not fail you or forsake you.”
But I will meet him one day
The loss of Billy Graham to the cause of Christ closely parallels the loss of Moses to the nation of Israel. To you who are as saddened as I by his passing, and sense the void created by his loss, I would say, “Billy Graham, God’s servant is dead. Just as God was with Billy, He will be with us; He will not fail us or forsake us.”
Billy, I never met you here, but I will meet you there. Enjoy your rest and reward.