“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
This morning, I awoke to the news that a long time American icon had passed. He was a great and diligent servant to the entire human race. His message was proclaimed strong and loud wherever he traveled. His passing marks the end of an era, but his legacy is one that will live on. He had the message that one needs to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He would captivate audiences with God’s Word in tent revivals, fill up stadiums and even in our own living rooms through television broadcasts. Sure, in this day and age several television evangelists can say that now, but NONE are revered or will be missed as much like the Reverend Billy Graham.
When I was younger, if Billy Graham was on the television, our whole family would gather in the living room to watch. We would sing along with the late George Beverly Shea (1909-2013) lead the praise and worship before Rev. Graham would step behind the pulpit. The message would always come to a close when the hymn “Just As I Am” was sung and hundreds of people would rush down to the front and down to the altar.
It is sad seeing just a strong presence leave this earth. It is almost like having to say farewell to a family member or an old friend. Sometimes it is even devastating when these iconic people, such as JFK, Elvis Presley, Princess Diana or Nelson Mandela, pass away. But with others like Rev. Graham, Martin Luther King, or Pope John Paul II, we have a peace that isn’t as familiar to us. The mourning process is different. That’s because we have that assurance and promise from the Lord in His Word that they are in a much better place. And they are waiting for us to join them in the hereafter. They are safe, dwelling in Paradise with the Lord.
It reminds me of when Elisha was with Elijah when he was taken up in the chariot of fire. Elisha stayed in Jericho three days before moving on. (2 Kings 2:11). When our dad passed in July of 2007, the sorrow was present, but the joy was undeniable! The night before, my family gathered around his bedside and sang “Victory In Jesus” which was his favorite hymn. My dad sang right along with us! Our voices would waver, but our dad’s voice came through loud and strong! Later that evening, we looked in on him. He had his arm tucked behind his head and he looked very comfortable, as if he was laying in a meadow looking up at the clouds. He was ready and willing to go. We did have a time of mourning because we were sad he wasn’t here with us. But the peace of knowing where he went was calming. No more pain of ANY kind. Hallelujah.
Yes, we miss the people who have gone on before us. And it is hard to let go of the others who have had so much influence on us. It is a bittersweet farewell but, ‘in the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore” as the old worship song goes.
Rev. Billy Graham 11/7/1918 – 2/21/2018