I have long admired evangelist Billy Graham and was recently reading another book about his life. He became a Christian at 16 and went on to preach Christianity to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached hundreds of millions more through television, video, film, and webcasts.
He is now 93 years old and frail. He’s hard of hearing and can’t see well. He’s had Parkinson’s for some 15 years, suffered broken hips, pneumonia, and prostate cancer.
He was asked what surprised him most about life and he replied that it was the brevity of it and how quickly time had passed. He remarked that he looked forward to heaven and getting into his new body free from aches and pains.
I too have been surprised at how quickly times slips away. It seems like only yesterday my kids were the same age as my grandkids are now. The Bible describes life as a vapor. “…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away…” James 4:14
Knowing that life is short, fragile and precious should bring to mind the central reality that whatever event, pleasure, deal or ambition we deem important this day can vanish in an instant. We should understand that the things that endure beyond death – like love, family, friendships, faith and works are the ones that are eternal. Billy Graham was cognizant of this and once asked: “Suppose you could gain everything in the whole world, and lost your soul. Was it worth it?”
Billy Graham’s encouraging demeanor and his Christ-like propensity for compassion and not condemnation always drew me to him like a moth to a light. One of the things that he was very disappointed in was the behavior of his close friend President Richard Nixon who was a Quaker, and Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. Even after disclosure of the secret profanity laced Nixon tapes he was reticent to condemn him for it and said: “Everybody has a little bit of Watergate in him”. He also said: “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness”.
Not long ago a friend of mine’s dog died. This venerable old mutt was his best friend and grief stricken he wrote me and asked if he would see him in heaven. I was not optimistic, but recently found this quote from Billy: “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there”.
Hmmm… I’m going to try to work on my optimism and will attempt to quit allowing ugly politics and other world events to cast their nasty shadow on God’s soothing light’s illumination of my outlook on life.
In that vein what could be more appropriate than closing with yet another poignant thought from Billy Graham: “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right”.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.