When I was a teenager, I remember receiving a copy of Billy Graham’s autobiography, “Just As I Am”, from my great-grandfather. My great-grandmother had recently passed away, and he was in the process of going through a number of her possessions.
He knew I liked to read and was getting into the Bible, so he wanted to encourage me in my faith by letting me have some of her books. It was a thoughtful gesture, and I ended up with that autobiography and a handful of commentaries. The biography ended up on top of the stack that day, because it was a freaking huge paperback book!
I started reading it not long after. Except for the awkwardness of holding such a misshapen paperback book, it was one of the most fascinating autobiographies I had ever read.
Much of his life had already been lived by the time the book was published in 1997, but for a young believer just beginning to find his way in the faith, his words and testimony were like a beacon in the dark, showing me a path in the midst of much noise and darkness. Mr. Graham went through a lot as he sought to follow God faithfully and live into the calling he felt on his life to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t think anyone will deny the impact and reach of the ministry and service that Billy Graham had during his almost one hundred years here on Earth. As a fellow North Carolinian, I am proud that such a man of God hailed from the same state that I call home, and I know many are celebrating his life and home going.
Like any other well-known or famous Christ follower, Mr. Graham was not without his own faults and mis-steps. He was only human, after all. I’m sure there will be plenty of press about the good and the bad, but I am thankful for the journey he made, the simplicity in which he presented God’s love to so many people, and lasting legacy of so many hearts softened towards a savior that gave His all for them.
Rest in peace Billy Graham, you’ve run your race well.