Today marks what would've been Billy Graham's 100th birthday. The man was known as "America's Pastor," beloved by so many and disliked by so few.
He was called upon by presidents, preached the gospel to millions, and had a rare life and ministry of uncompromising integrity. In fact, there is even a ministry safeguard named after him, "The Billy Graham Rule," where pastors refuse to be in private with a member of the opposite sex to protect against affairs and even suspicion.
Graham truly was an incredible blessing to America (and the world!), but while most of us lost him as a spiritual leader two years ago, Anne Graham Lotz lost him as a father. In fact, in this incredibly touching tribute, Lotz (who is now battling breast cancer) shares how she knew Graham as "Daddy."
Here is the beautiful journal-like blog Lotz posted today in tribute:
"Today is my father’s 100th birthday! I’m reflecting, not on the public figure Billy Graham, but on the one I called 'Daddy.' I miss him more now than when he first moved to our Father’s House. With a dull ache in my heart, I long to drive up to see him one more time. To tell him about the new journey of faith God has me traveling. To hear him say, 'I love you, darling.'
"Today, I’m remembering one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling.
"Yet as I remember, I can’t help but also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else.
"For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father, celebrating his first birthday in Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors and is now enjoying real Life.
"So, while he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. While I’m somewhat bound and set aside, I have not forgotten my recommitment to take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race. I am committed to faithfully pass it on to those with whom I come in contact, whether through this blog, or those I pass at the hospital during chemo treatments or doctors’ visits. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past. It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens heaven’s door. I know, because the message which Daddy carried to the world penetrated my own heart as a young girl and continues to make impact.
"On this, his 100th birthday, while my heart aches for the one I called Daddy, my heart is also filled with triumphant joy knowing that this life is not all there is. One day we are going Home!