Please indulge me for a moment to begin this particular post with one of my favourite poems:
Tall as the truth
was who: and
wore his (mountains
like a (now
one sweet sun
in it, now with a
flaming billion kinds
The poet may have written this lovely (albeit wordy) piece about his father ... or maybe Abraham Lincoln ... or a personal friend or possibly a significant public figure. This was never specific, but what matters is that he acknowledged the loss of a great man. And as you know, one did pass this week into glory. He was 99 years of age.
Last Wednesday, upon announcing his father's passing, Franklin Graham quoted him on social media saying that his dad was once asked, “Where is Heaven?” He simply answered, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!” That morning, Franklin announced that his earthly father "departed this world into eternal life in Heaven, prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ—the Savior of the world—whom Billy Graham had proclaimed for 80 years."
He preached the gospel for EIGHTY. YEARS.
He married the daughter of a missionary and later became an accidental public figure. He travelled the world, talked to the masses, prayed with world leaders, and always came back to that girl and their kids. The man may have aged, but the message he carried never has ... and never will. For many positive or negative reasons, the world will always remember his name. I don't really think he'd like any postmortem notoriety very much unless his name associated with Jesus, only Jesus. So no, to honour him, I am not going to go into details about the life of Billy Graham. I merely want to acknowledge the world's loss of a real scripture scout. Because this is our earthly loss but is also a triumphant victory. Victory in Jesus.
This video is but a few minutes long (pretty brief for a preacher-man *wink*). If you have not previously seen his last message to anyone (thank you, internet), go ahead and take a moment. This message was delivered only three years ago.
God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
If you took the chance to listen to that video, you heard him say, "I've given my life, not to a dead Christ, but a living Christ." Amen, Mr Graham. In a previous sermon, he also repeated another influential preacher (Dwight Moody) by saying this, "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."
Let's drive back around to the introductory poem. Without his well-known crazy punctuation, cummings was only saying this: "A great man is gone. Tall as the truth was who ... wore his life like a sky." You already know that the truth IS tall when touted wisely and this particular preacher man was fairly tall himself, but the man by the name of Billy Graham carried the Truth of Jesus with him everywhere and that is a truth that is ever so MUCH taller than our (earthly) departed brother.
The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earth-born is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heaven-born is in a league of His own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this:
THAT GOD HIMSELF IS THE TRUTH.
I can see Graham meeting the Lord with his hearty handshake, but I also imagine his softer soul ... a soul who burst into tears at the sight of His Saviour. Yes, this preacher was a tall dude. But, as this John 3 translation explains, the truth is much taller than Billy ever was; he knew this, he lived this and owned his human flaws.
Congratulations, Mr Graham. You're home.
So here’s the thing. YOU, beloved reader, are not dead. Yet. And Jesus does love you more than you could know. You are a friend of God. And no matter what is happening in your life, you are entirely capable of living RIGHT NOW so that when you do pass from this world, you will indeed be more alive than you are at this very moment. And everyone who knows you will also know your forwarding address.
P.S. If YOU happen to get there first, dear reader-friend, save me a seat at the banquet table!