Farewell, Billy Graham. I was saddened to hear of the loss of Billy Graham today. He was an amazing preacher and touched countless lives for Christ – including my own. I had the opportunity to hear him preach in Portland. I was impressed with the simplicity of his message of God’s love for all of us! I remember rejoicing as hundreds of people went forward to receive Christ as their savior. I was touched by how powerfully God used Dr. Graham that day.
But that was not the first or only time Billy. Graham touched my life. God used Mr. Graham very early in my life in a very profound way. I can remember it to this day. I was four years old. We were in a hotel room, and the black and white tv was on. I was a confused, lost, scared and sad little girl.
It was 1964, and my parents had just broken up after a very bad fight, though at the time I did not understand what was happening to my little world. My parents had been having troubles as long as I could remember. I still remember the horrible arguments. I remember crying and not understanding why the two people I loved the most would say horrible things and hurt each other. What was worse was there was nothing I could do to fix it. I remember hiding in my room with my brother, Jim, as we hugged each other seeking solace as they fought. Jim was just a year younger than me.
This time their fight was worse than usual, and my brothers and I were not hiding in our bedroom. We were there front and center. Another woman was in the room, though I can’t recall her features or what she wore, I remember staring at her. I remember she was heavy with child. I didn’t know who she was, or why my mother was screaming at her and my dad.
It is amazing how earth-shaking world world-changing events happen and you don’t realize it until after they pass. I remember my mother turning to me and asking me if I wanted to be with my mommy or my daddy. She was shaking and tears were streaming down her face. I remember looking at her and then at my dad. He looked away, unwilling to meet my eyes as I sought for understanding. I didn’t realize the enormity of what she was asking. To me, it was as if she was asking if I wanted to go to the store with her or stay there with dad. I was only four years old, and I did what any four-year-old girl would do. I chose my mother. I didn’t realize that would be one of the last times I would see my father. In that moment, my entire life had changed and I didn’t realize it.
Soon my two younger brothers and I were hurriedly packed up and in the car. My mother was crying and trying to keep it together as she drove for two days. We were going home to her parents. Stopping at a hotel one night, I remember being cold and tired. Though my memories are a bit fuzzy, I remember my mother was in the bathroom – she was crying and trying to hide it from us. Left to our own devices, Jim and I sat on the couch and watched T.V. Rick, about a year old, and was on the floor playing with his toys. It must have been close to Easter because the movie that was on was about Jesus.
I recall switching on the t.v. and seeing Christ on a cross, and being transfixed by the agony on his face. I will never forget that image. It made me so sad. Shortly afterward, Billy Graham was on the air. I listened to him tell about Jesus, and how he died for me because he loved me. I didn’t understand everything the man said but it made an impact on me that stayed with me all my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but that encounter sparked my search for Jesus. (This picture by Peter Paul Rubens in 1697 comes close to what I saw on the flickering black and white TV screen so long ago.)
God never forgot this little girl who was lost and heartbroken in a small hotel room so long ago. He never left me or deserted me no matter what I did or thought about him. He tenderly, gently and relentlessly pursued me. At the age of fifteen, I received the free gift of his amazing love and sacrifice for me and asked Jesus into my heart and life. I am his and always will be his. What a wonderful thing to know that I belong to HIM! AND HE LOVES ME! No judgment. No condemnation. Only love.
Mercifully my heavenly Father used Dr. Graham and others to woo me to himself, and I am so grateful for the faithful service of these people who served God and let their light shine into my dark world.
Thank you, Jesus! And thank you, Mr. Graham.
Billy Graham will be missed here on earth, but I am so happy he is with Christ whom he loved and served so faithfully! I can only imagine the amazing celebration in Heaven as they welcome Billy home.