It took extra effort to listen to Billy Graham. He was not a speaker to my generation. But his TED talk in 1998 on Technology, Faith and Human shortcomings was phenomenal! And with his books, he remains in circulation! So many lessons to take from a simple life. My dad said that he came to Ibadan in 1960 going even to the villages on the fringes of the city.
Such a tall man, physically and in many other ramifications.
1. Gluttony (Overeating).
I never knew that overeating was a sin till I read Billy Graham’s book The Seven Deadly Sins. While the whole world knows the sin of Sodom called Sodomy, little is said of the sin of overeating in Sodom. And I used to overeat!
Ezekiel 16:49 — Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
We don’t hear much about overeating anymore.
2. Even great men of God sometimes question their faith.
In the book God’s Generals: The Revivalists, Roberts Liairdon discussed the life of Billy Graham. At a time in his young life, Billy Graham had a preacher friend who began to question the authority of the Bible. He eventually sowed his seeds of doubt in the heart of Billy Graham. However, Graham did not fault the Bible; he only asked God to prove to him that the Bible is the final authority. For months, his relationship with God went down.
Then one day, he got tired of his position especially because God did not respond. Finally, he took a walk into the woods and sat on a log. He spoke to God and explained how things have gone down between the two of them since he started asking questions. He had reached a breaking point and decided to accept the finality of the Word of God by faith. He was ready to move on without proof. At that moment, he said that he felt the presence of God again like he had not felt in months!
Someone interviewed Mrs Ruth Graham with a focus on her marriage. She pointed out that Billy Graham was just a man like any other after all. Finally, the interviewer asked if she had ever considered divorce What an answer she gave: “Divorce, No; Murder, Yes!” What does this teach?
They were married for almost 64 years.
4. Though you are not at a disadvantage, help those who are!
Billy Graham marched with Martin Luther King Jr for the emancipation of the American blacks. In fact, once MLK was jailed, it was Billy Graham who bailed him out. Graham stood by what he believed.
5. We are collaborators, not competitors.
In God’s Generals: The Healing Evangelists, Liairdon discussed the life of Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts was a healing evangelist, quite a controversial one. Billy Graham was a conservative preacher who wouldn’t pray for any sick. He would say, “That’s Oral Roberts’ gift.” The day he invited Oral Roberts to speak at his crusade, Roberts declined. He did not want to “soil” Graham’s conservativism with his controversial personality. But Graham insisted. And all went well.
6. Prepare for temptation
Steve Farrar’s book FINISHING STRONG reports that Billy Graham had a team that went ahead of him to inspect his hotel rooms. And?
Once, they found a naked lady and cameras hiding, waiting to implicate the reverend gentleman.
It is reported that Billy Graham was the father to several American Presidents. It was not always like that. The first time that Billy Graham was invited to the White House, he came outside and like a “Christian who must not lie,” he reeled out everything they discussed behind closed doors. The President was so mad that he described Graham as an opportunist who was only looking for popularity. I don’t think he ever met that President again, but certainly, he never told the press everything he discussed behind closed doors again. I can’t remember which of his books I read that from!
Billy Graham wrote Storm Warnings in 1992. He said that once a journalist told him to stop scaring people with messages from the Bible and about the end of the world. Graham told the journalist to check the headlines and see who was scaring the people. Storm Warnings is about the gathering clouds about the end of the age.
Then living a few years more, he concluded that the clouds were getting darker, so he updated the book and published a new edition!
In recent years, there was a short video message from Billy Graham that circulated on the internet; he was still trying to reach the modern world from his wheelchair.
9. Father! (verb)
Until Barack Obama, Billy Graham prayed at “all” the inaugurations of US Presidents. But in 2009, he was already 91. Obama invited Rick Warren to pray. Inaugurations are in January, in winter. Rick Warren discovered a few days to the inauguration, that his winter hat was missing! That day or so, he received a box in the mail. Curiously, he opened it. It was a winter hat with a note from Billy Graham, “I wore this for all the inaugurations.”
That still brings tears to my eyes! Won’t you like to serve after such a man?
10. Trust the next generation
Gradually, age crept up with Rev Graham. He handed his ministry over to his son. Then gradually, he could not move about much again. But Joel Osteen reported on how he takes time to visit Billy Graham. Guess what? Billy Graham used to watch Joel Osteen on TV! He told Joel Osteen one day, “I would have loved to visit your church, but you have such a crowd, I don’t think I’d get a seat!”
Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my final end be like theirs!