Billy Graham died one year ago on February 21, 2018. He was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He preached to more people live than anybody else in history. His faithfulness to his call as a preacher was impeccable. He was the model for how to act as a Christian and as a preacher. His funeral at the Billy Graham library was attended by dignitaries from around the world.
Billy Graham was a pastor to several presidents. A statue of Billy Graham will eventually be placed in the US Capital. When family members were discussing how the statue should appear, it was decided that he must have a Bible in his hand. During every sermon he would anchor his message in the phrase, “The Bible says…” Someone commented that it might be the only Bible you’ll find there!
A few years ago the city of Charlotte planned to give a special recognition to Billy Graham – their favorite son. He did not want to accept the invitation. His family insisted that he accept it. They also insisted that he buy a new suit for the occasion. He did, reluctantly. He said, “After this event, the next time I wear this suit will be at my funeral.”
At that event he told the story of Dr. Albert Einstein who was on a train leaving Princeton. In those days a conductor came along and checked your ticket and punched it. When the conductor arrived in front of him, Dr. Einstein started checking his vest pocket, his coat pocket, and his pants pockets and could not find his ticket. The conductor quickly said, “Dr. Einstein you don’t need a ticket. I know who you are. You are an honest man. Don’t worry about it. I know who you are.” Dr. Einstein thanked him.
As the conductor started to leave that train car and go to the next one he turned around and saw Dr. Einstein on his knees on the floor looking for his ticket under the seat. He came back again and said, “You don’t need your ticket. I know who you are. There is no problem.” Einstein got up from the floor and looked at the conductor and said, “Thank you. I also know who I am, but I need to find the ticket so I will know where I am going!”
Billy Graham related that he was like Dr. Einstein in that he knew who he was – but he quickly added, “I also know where I’m going.” Billy Graham knew where he was going both in this life and in eternity.
He died just before his 100th birthday. He had said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it – I shall be more alive then than I am now. I will have gone into the presence of God.” He knew where he was going.
Billy Graham, wearing that suit, was buried at the Billy Graham library, next to his wife. As both of them lived at the foot of the cross – they wanted to be buried at the foot of the cross. They are. A long sidewalk in the form of a cross goes right down to the graves of Billy and Ruth Graham. They are buried in simple wooden caskets that were made by some men in prison. A mattress from Wal-Mart completed the coffin. The coffin is not important – they’re not there. They’ve joined their Heavenly Father and other members of their family!
I have a large picture in my office at home of Billy Graham. Next to Jesus, my dad, and my brother he was the preacher I most admire and have learned from. The good thing about the Christian faith is that friends and family have not seen Billy Graham for the last time. There will be a great reunion some day. I’m looking forward to that. Christians never see each other for the last time! (Tweet that!)
How alive are you today, and will you be at death?