Letting Go of Billy Graham

It’s not easy to imagine life in America without Billy Graham. He served as a comforting blanket of trustworthiness and faith in the highest corridors of power and some of the least visible places on earth. He moved through doors freely and as long as he walked the planet we knew someone important must be encountering God in a potentially life changing way which would hopefully trickle down and impact all of us for the better. President Obama visited him in North Carolina only eight years ago, the last of our Presidents to actually see him. I never met him, but he changed my life.

While sitting on my Grandma’s gold velour sofa, eating a hot fudge sundae at the age of seven, I watched his crusade on t.v. Grandma always let me stay up later than my parents and never guilted me into thinking I watched too much t.v. Like parents today who admonish their kids for wasting precious time on video games, my parents did the same with t.v. But on that night, no time was wasted. Mr. Graham spelled it out so simply, “You are a sinner, but you don’t need to die a sinner. Come to Jesus and he will change your life.” He didn’t try to impress me with quotes from commentators or other erudite sources, just the gospel pure and simple. In listening to his message and watching the endless stream of people walking forward to “make a decision for Christ,” I knew I wanted that hope. I didn’t tell my Grandma or anyone else, but when she tucked me in and turned out the light on her rose colored nightstand I did as Mr. Graham said, I asked Jesus into my life. To this day I remember that feeling of security and peace, falling asleep new beneath Grandma’s starched white sheets.

About thirty years later I was on a call with an evangelist, John Guest and he asked me, “How did you come to faith?” I shared my story of Billy Graham and he startlingly said on the phone, “Let’s pray for Mr. Graham and your grandma right now and thank God for the way he used them in your life.” Never before had someone requested that we pray together on the phone. I felt shy and insecure doing it, but as the memory of that night came back accompanied by the smell of ¬†Grandma’s rose scented hand lotion and the rattling of her newspaper while I pretended to be asleep, my heart filled with gratitude. Millions came to faith or were exposed to the truth of the gospel through Billy Graham’s ministry and they are welcoming him into heaven today with a big crown and a choir singing something even better than Handel’s Messiah, but for me on that night in a single bed in River Forest, Illinois it was just me, Billy and Jesus.

Forever grateful.


All Creation Waits, Book Review

(Greenhouse teacher Debbie Gottlieb won the book! Thanks everyone for reading. I always keep the comments private:)

In the book, All Creation Waits, Gayle Boss presents the hidden work of 24 animals as they wait for the return of spring. In a combined effort of art, poetry, faith and science we learn the wonders of mama bear as she gorges herself all summer on berries and insects to store up for the birth of her cubs, an event that happens while she sleeps in hibernation. Now that’s a delivery scenario I could handle! No drugs, no pain, no birthing classes, just berries and sleep.

This book forces us to slow down and savor the unseen and unknown quiet facts of protection and preservation that God offers to his precious creatures. It also provides encouragement, for if God gives so much to the Chick-a-dee, then how much more does he give to me? “So do not fear, you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31. In this day of divisive social media driven vitriol, this book brings us back to the center, to the small, the unnoticed miraculous works of creation. It serves as a seat to savor nature, the preservation of life through the seasons, all of which are magnificently more interesting than the Kardashians latest shoe choice or Trump tweets.

David Klein’s black and white, line intensive illustrations highlight the intricate detail and unique personality of each animal. He invites us to touch the pages to feel the texture of their fur.

Take some time this Advent to wonder in the waiting of what God is doing, even in the places you can’t perceive or see. Spend some time with the animals, the few chosen ones who were there the day He came, Emmanuel. God with us. Thank you Gayle Boss for helping us see a little more of who God is through this expression of your devotion. We wait with you.