My Father Is Now ‘Celebrating Eternal Life’ – Franklin Graham

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Billy Graham’s message of the cross never changed since he preached it at his first crusade — to an audience of 6,000 at the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947.

My father has joined my mother in heaven. He went to sleep in his home in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and woke up in the arms of Jesus. While many around the world mourn his physical death, he is now celebrating the eternal life he spent over 70 years telling millions of people about.

The man the world knew as Billy Graham was always “Daddy” to me. I was well into my teens before I fully comprehended that my father had a household name and a worldwide ministry. He was home a few days, then gone for weeks — sometimes months. Had it not been for my mother’s cheerful attitude and spiritual strength, his absence may have had a devastating impact on me. Her eyes flickered like the flames in the fireplace as she described Daddy’s travels, crusade meetings and people he met from all walks of life.

His homecomings were always a big deal. We waited eagerly at train stations and airports watching for his long legs to step onto the railway platform or airport tarmac. Other times, we ran to the driveway when we would hear the car coming up the mountain. My three sisters, brother and I would tackle him, but he always managed to scoop us up into his loving arms, letting us know how much he had missed us. Then, he would turn his attention and affection to the woman he loved — and who shared her life with him for 64 years. Those were happy times.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of my father than the sunny day in May 2007 when 1,500 people, including three former American presidents, turned out to help us dedicate the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. (He joked to the crowd that he felt as if he were attending his own funeral!) Seeing him standing in front of the 40-foot-high glass cross that serves as the entrance to the library, I thought about something he once told British TV personality David Frost in an interview: “Well, I’m going to heaven,” he said, “not on my good works or because I’ve preached to all these people or read the Bible. I’m going to heaven because of what Christ did on the cross.”

Billy Graham’s message of the cross never changed since he preached it at his first crusade — to an audience of 6,000 at the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947.

A Final Word

Following that final New York crusade in 2005, a well-known publisher released a book with the entire text of his three sermons at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. They invited him to write some closing thoughts for the book, which filled just two pages under the heading “A Final Word from Billy Graham”:

“No matter what your problem is,” he wrote, “if you and I could sit down and talk, I would want to tell you one great truth: God loves you, and He can make a difference in your life if you will let Him.

“God loves you so much that He sent His Son into the world to die for your sins. When we open our hearts to Christ, He forgives our sins and comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. He also gives us strength for the present and hope for the future. This is the message of the Gospel — and this is the message you have read in this book.”

If my father could speak or write to us today, he would say the same thing. It was what he lived and breathed — until his very last breath.

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