I never met Billy Graham. I never attended one of his crusades, but I did see them on TV. So many notable people who knew him personally have written glowing tributes to “America’s Pastor” since he went to glory on Feb. 21, 2018. While my words won’t measure up to theirs, I feel compelled to add a few to the collection because the Lord whispered in my ear this week, “He impacted you too, you know.”
My parents took my sisters and me to church faithfully when I was growing up. I memorized the books of the Bible and was rewarded with a very fancy bookmark. Yet in all those years, no one really told me about the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. No one told me I would need to surrender my life in order to gain it. But I saw people doing that on TV, and the seed was planted.
As a little girl, I was amazed at the immensity of the crowds that came to hear this preacher with the strong voice and the familiar Southern accent. They filled rows and rows of huge stadiums. Not even the University of Tennessee football stadium, the biggest one I’d ever seen, would have been large enough to hold them all. I was moved to tears one night as I watched people of all ages and all colors leaving their seats to come down to the front where Billy Graham stood. The amazing hymn “Just As I Am” echoed up to every ear, and so they came. They came to accept God’s gift of salvation, and commit their lives to Christ.
Little did I know that when I dried my eyes and went to bed that night, a strong seed had been planted in the heart of this little Tennessee girl. With the seed came a message whispering, “there’s more.” It wasn’t until years later, when my life was derailed by the crisis of divorce, that I fell to my knees with tears streaming down my face and cried out to the Lord. “This is too hard,” I sobbed. “Everything is so messed up. I need for You to take over.” My life changed that day from one ending in death and destruction to one with the promise of eternity. And all because a seed was planted and took root. I knew there was more to a life of faith than what I had experienced because Billy Graham said so, and all those people leaving their seats agreed. Just as I was, I came.
Can you just imagine the conversation in heaven last week?
God: It’s time for Us to bring my servant Billy Graham home.
Angel: But why now? He’ll be 100 in a few months. Shouldn’t he stay for the party?
God: Now is the time because he has fought the good fight. He has finished his race. He’s too weak to deliver my message of salvation again himself, but once he comes to Us, those reporting his passing will proclaim it throughout the land once again! Throughout a land that needs the good news of the gospel message as salve for its wounds. We will bring him home now.
And so it was. With a grateful heart I praise God for raising up a man like Billy Graham in our generation. I didn’t meet him here, but I’ll meet him there. In the meantime, I believe I have some seeds to sow in his honor.
Laurie Geisz says
This is precious, Nancy, and I thank you for honoring the whisper in your ear and taking the time to write this, sowing more seeds. It might sound silly, but I feel more of a closeness to Billy Graham since Chelsey’s at Wheaton College (we just visited her last weekend), and the BGC (Billy Graham Center) is such a prominent, beautiful building on campus. Such a wonderful life and man and legacy. I appreciate your honoring him. Please know I miss you, think of you, and hope to see you soon. Love you and thankful for you always, Laurie
Thanks, Laurie. I miss you and think of you also!! We need to do something about that. I’d love to visit that center at Wheaton. Thanks for letting me know about it. Love you.
Beverly Jennings says
Love this and Love your dedication to God, our Father!
Thank you, Bev! I guess he IS still delivering his message (God’s message)!
Jim B (your loving huzzband) says
Thank you for reminding us that God can and will use the news of Rev.Billy Graham’s death to remind the world of the Gospel message he proclaimed so faithfully during his lifetime. He was such a humble man. He did not exhort crowds with his own wisdom, but he faithfully began all of this talking points with the phrase “the Bible says”. He modeled the effectiveness of preaching the Word of God without embellishments or apologies – an approach this world so desperately still needs.
Thank you, dear. Wonderful words of wisdom.
Thank you for sharing these seeds, Nancy. I am sure Billy Graham is looking down from heaven with a smile.
Thanks so much, Sue. He may too busy celebrating to look down on us yet but I hope so!
Rolle Walker says
Hi, Nancy, I had the same response as your “huzzband”, Jim, posted. Our daughter has a distant connection to Franklin Graham. This has allowed her to give us infrequent updates on the condition of Dr. Graham. I had come to anticipate Dr. Graham’s falling asleep in the Lord because he was the last living person my late father admired and spoke to us about often. My father has been gone since April, 1979. When Billy Graham died, my thoughts were, “Well the last of my dad’s heroes has now gone on.” The passing of Billy Graham has made me appreciate and respect the Christian life and influence my own father had on his children and many of all races, colors, creeds, and social standings. Billy Graham never got wrapped around the axle with intellectual musings. He simply spoke the Truth, as Jim reminded us, “the Bible says.”. Amen to that!
Yes, Rolle. A simple, Bible-based message is always best, isn’t it? Thanks for taking the time to write. Maybe your parents and ours were at the welcome party!!
Rolle Walker says
Now that is a wonderful image: A HOMECOMING party of our parents, Billy Graham and the LORD GOD HIMSELF! Not sure I can comprehend something that awesome. Very strong and lovely response, Nancy!
Ellie Rutherford says
WOW NANCY!! Have never met you, nut you nailed it!! I did grow up with Billy Graham and heard him in NYC when I was 15~~at Mad Sq Garden~~had accepted Jesus when I was 8; our youth group same in the choir with Cliff Barrows leading~~~Kathy C shared it with me~~Beautifully written!!!
(I am the phantom member of your the Bible study here in CR)
How good to hear from you, Ellie! I’m looking forward to meeting you some time soon as everyone speaks so lovingly of you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment!
Ellie Rutherford says
I MEANT BUT!! NOT NUT! and SANG ~not SAME~~`Now you can delete my error; now you see why I don’t come to Bible study! Please delete☹️
Will do! And the message came through loud and clear any way!
Ruth Axtell says
Thank you for writing The Seed Planter. I will probably date myself by saying that my mother and I attended Billy Graham’s tent revival meeting in downtown Los Angeles in 1949. I remember the publicity in the newspapers when Stuart Hamblin and Louis Zamperini came to the Lord. More importantly, Billy Graham preached the same message to the famous and not-so-famous.
From what I’ve read that was a milestone event in his ministry, Ruth. What a blessing that you were there. Thanks for sharing.
Jimmie 3930regency says
those were beautiful thoughts!
Thank you, mam!
Lea Ann says
Well done Nancy! Love, LOVE the reminded important of planting seeds!! I had tears in my eyes as I watched Fox News with the report of Billy Graham’s casket lying in the Rotunda. Can only imagine the WELL DONE he received!!!
Thank you, Lea Ann! I missed that coverage but did see the funeral. So God-honoring! Just as he would have wanted it.
Jan Keller says
Great column, Nancy! I appreciate Billy Graham and I appreciate YOU! I remember some of the advance work as well as attending one night of Billy Graham’s 10-night crusade in Denver in 1987 in the old Mile High Stadium. Months in advance of the crusade churches throughout the region were contacted and met with for support. They needed to know of churches who could take over the shepherding of the folks who made decisions for Christ … and they needed folks throughout the stadium who would get up and follow whenever someone nearby went forward to be there to pray with and be with each new believer. The crusades were a huge undertaking! I’ll never forget Rev. Graham telling the people, “Don’t worry about how you got here, the bus or the people you rode with will wait for you … you just come …”
Wow. How wonderful to have been a part of that. As a little girl I did think, but if I did that, would I get lost? No, sweetie. You would get FOUND! 🙂
Charlie Fusco says
I came to salvation during a Billy Graham crusade in Knoxville,TN. I was only 10; but, I came to believe through Graham’s powerful message that the most important thing I could ever do was center my life in the grace of God through faith in His only begotten Son. Here I am at near 70 years of age still loving and serving as His disciple. Thank God for Billy Graham and his amazing life of ministering the Gospel of grace. I know His admittance to heaven was loudly applauded by many who came to faith through his message who preceded him in entering the Kingdom of glory. I am so happy for you – for me – that Billy Graham’s wonderful message of light, forgiveness, and love transformed our lives. Glory be to the Father and blessed be His faithful servant Billy Graham.
Amen and amen, Charlie. That means my parents could have taken me, too. I wish they had but can’t look back. Just so grateful for the light that shone through Billy Graham!
Beth Lueders says
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing the beautiful simplicity of coming as we are to the embrace of God. Keep planting and watering, my friend.
You too, sister!
Elizabeth Van Liere says
We are just a few of those whose lives Billy Graham touched. I’m so glad he touched mine.
Bob Kelly says
Thanks for a beautiful message. Not long after becoming a Christian (in 1974), I read an article about Billy Graham, which included a statement I recorded in my journal. He was 19 when he said: “No friend or anything shall ever come first in my life. I have resolved that the Lord Jesus Christ shall have all of me. I care not what the future holds. I have determined to follow Him at any cost.” He would continue to follow Jesus for another 80 years, inspiring millions to do the same.
Wonderful quote, Bob. Thanks for sharing.
So well written, Nancy! I DID meet Billy Graham and have met Franklin. An amazing family!
We will walk when the wind dies down. 🙂 Much love!
Thanks for commenting, Gail. Glad we walked today!
Margie Brown says
The trajectory of our lives and the hope of eternity has taken root in our lives because Billy Graham was faithful in
preaching God’s word.
God loves you
Christ died for you
Thank you for sharing your story
To God Be The Glory!
Thank you, Margie. You bless and mentor me in so many ways!
Kelly Hall says
Thank you so much Nancy for sharing your thoughts. All of us have been so deeply impacted by the life of this servant who was steadfast and diligent in His commitment to our Savior.
Beautifully written Nancy.
Thanks, Kelly. Look forward to an update from you soon!!