Somewhere buried deep within the garage is a cardboard box dotted with colorful stickers from moves gone-by. It’s filled with memorabilia from my youth — yearbooks, records, photo albums, and one large red scrapbook chronicling the milestones and achievements of my adolescence. Inside the scrapbook is a patch for the President’s Physical Fitness Award, a certificate honoring my essay on freedom from the Daughters of the American Revolution, a charcoal drawing of our beloved beagle, Bowser, ribbons and medals from gymnastics competitions, and assorted report cards and notes–we’re talking priceless treasures of great worth and significance–at least in the eyes of a sentimental teenager.
But, taped to the last page is the back cover of a booklet from evangelist Billy Graham. It contains a statement of personal faith in Jesus Christ inscribed with my signature and the date.
It is the only thing in that scrapbook of any true significance; the only thing that matters for all of eternity.
Billy Graham was part of my childhood, his voice as recognizable as any I can recall. Though he preached to the masses in ball fields, stadiums, cathedrals and arenas, and though he held audiences with dignitaries, Presidents, celebrities, and royalty – his gospel message was simple, universal, and timeless.
And— like millions of others around the world — it changed my life.
This morning, the first thing I read was the news of his death.
My heart sank for the loss, but my sorrow was fleeting —for he is not here, but he is not gone. Billy Graham is Home.
This humble preacher from North Carolina lived a long and full life marked by love, significance, honor, integrity, and unshakable faith. He touched countless hearts with his life-changing, transformative message – including the heart of a young girl who sat in front of the television with tears in her eyes, listened to a sermon, and accepted the invitation to come to God – Just As I Am.
Billy Graham’s legacy lives on in me. I am so grateful, and one day when I’ve gone Home, I’ll tell him.