Al– As we write this blog, we are headed home from Washington DC where we have been doing some business. As we were driving to the airport we saw the motorcades and helicopters getting government officials and the President to Congress to honor Dr. Billy Graham and his family. We thought about changing our flight to try to walk through Congress to pay our own respects, but decided to get home to our grandkids after a long trip. Our blog this week will be our attempt to pay tribute to a wonderful man and his family.
The night before we left DC we ran into Jane Lynch, Franklin and Jane’s daughter and it gave us a chance to tell her how much we respected “Daddy Bill” (the grandchildren’s name for Dr. Graham) and how much we love all of her family. One of the great blessings of this crazy ride our family has been on the past few years is the blessing of meeting so many great Kingdom of God families. The Cathy’s, the Greens, the Cameron’s, the Kendrick’s and many, many others have blessed our lives as they try to help make a positive difference for God in our current culture. The Grahams top my list of influence makers and it all started with Billy and Ruth Graham.
I remember growing up watching live feeds of Dr. Graham preaching to packed stadiums all over America. I watched fascinated as steams of people coming forward to Just As I Am ready to make professions of faith and getting information about local churches. What an incredible legacy of commitment to the gospel of Christ and to the great commission! I never entertained the thought of getting to meet him and become friends with many of his children and grandchildren and yet that is exactly what happened.
On the way to a GA-LSU football game coming from Liberty University, Willie, his assistant John David and I stopped in Charlotte and toured the Billy Graham Library and then made the drive to Ashville to meet Dr. Graham and visit with him and eventually pray over him and for his family. A day that will always be at the top of my list of amazing memories! Later I got to go to the Samaritan’s Purse retreat in Port Alsworth, AK and meet military families coming in to get some rest, relaxation and restoration. The bonds have grown stronger the more I am around the Graham children and grandchildren and I think I now know why they really are “royalty” in our faith family.
The Grahams are royalty because they do it the way Jesus said to do it. Whoever wants to be great will serve! Whoever wants to be first will be last! This attitude of humility and servitude began with Billy and Ruth and still permeates through the Graham’s children and grandchildren. They are far from perfect, but they admit that and appeal to the grace of Jesus Christ to make them perfect in His blood. This is why they are still highly regarded and why Dr. Graham is only the fourth civilian in US history to lie in state at the Congress. I love this family and applaud their continuing legacy of submitting to Jesus Christ and carrying out His mission of offering spiritual and physical hope and healing.
Our country is so divided that I don’t know if we’ll ever have another beloved “national pastor”, but we have the perfect model to try in Billy Graham, his wife Ruth and his whole family. I am honored to call them friends and forever family.
Lisa: Sometimes, in this life, you meet a family that you think “mirrors” your family. That was what I found when I met the Graham family. Their family, like ours, put the Gospel of Christ as the main “thing” in their life.
We went for an event in Alaska at the state fair. It was when the Duck Dynasty show was at its prime and we were asked to do some pretty amazing events. This was one of those! We had lunch at Sarah and Todd Palin’s home and part of the Graham family joined us. When we met Franklin and Jane, it was a friendship that was forged fast. We realized how much our lives were alike but how much God had blessed us even in our own hardships. Jane Graham is about a foot shorter than Franklin, but don’t let that fool you! She’s not a pushover. She’s a great wife to Franklin and had to be a firm mom to her boys. I met her sweet daughter this weekend “Cissie” to her family but as I know girls, I know there’s a lot of drama raising girls. I’m sure (although we never discussed it) that she experienced that drama too.
As I talked to Jane that day, I knew, she was a jewel. She was honest about her life, which meant, she wasn’t perfect, admitted it, and allowed God to change her. She said when Franklin brought her home, she knew (she felt this way but no one ever told her this) that she was not what they were hoping for in a daughter in law. Ms Ruth studied with her, loved her, taught her, and converted her to Jesus. As the marriage went on, Franklin would follow (so to speak) in his father’s footsteps. Again not something she would have imagined for her life. But, as a woman who loves her husband and family, she embraced it. I totally related to her. I felt a kinship. I, too, felt this way. I too was taught and trained to be a Godly wife and mother by my mother in law. We both felt inferior to this task. But as we read in Phil. 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” When we are a willing vessel, it’s amazing what the Lord can do. Jane Graham is a willing vessel. She is blessed to have 4 children, eleven grandchildren. Being a grandmother, myself, I know how blessed the eleven have made her. She loves her family unconditionally and would do anything for them.
I know that there are many friends we have made and that we will make in this journey that God has us on, but we are extremely blessed to call the Graham family our friends and brethren. May God continue to bless them with comfort and peace as He directs their path and legacy for years to come. Thank you Father for Billy & Ruth Graham. They are receiving their reward of eternal life! Can’t wait to get there and meet Jesus and fellowship with all our brothers and sisters.