Finding Jesus at Billy Graham’s Funeral

Image Credit: John Bazemore/AP

Keith and I sat in my office today and watched the funeral of Dr. Billy Graham.  Nearly every major pastor, Bible teacher and Christian leaders were in attendance for the private service that included 2,000 people.

Dr. Graham had planned the funeral himself several years ago, and it was deeply meaningful to think about and reflect the songs he chose, and people he wanted to speak.  Certainly Dr. Graham could have chosen any world leader or celebrity of the faith to speak at his funeral, but of those he chose were his children.

In fact, one of the most heartfelt and deeply meaningful tributes came from his daughter, Ruth Graham who stepped into vulnerability and shared her personal life struggles that included two failed marriages, and what that looked like when she went to see her father face to face after the end of the second marriage.  She recalled turning the last curve of their winding driveway, up the mountain and seeing her father standing at the railing looking and waiting for her to come home.

Dr. Graham’s casket was made by prisoners on death row that cost only $250.  He had once visited the prison, saw the work the inmates were doing and bought two caskets, one for his wife and one for himself.  On the top of the humble, wooden casket is a simple cross.

These two primary points are some of many of the overtones of a life lived walking in the steps of Jesus.  For Christ, He didn’t have prisoners build him a casket, but He did die side by side next to two of them.

Jesus also told the parable of the son who left his fathers house, squandered all his inheritance, shamed his father, and then decided to come home when he realized it would be better for him to be a slave of his father than to live the life he was living.  Upon his return, he saw his father looking for him and then running to greet him while ordering a celebration prepared.  This is the story that was running through my mind as I watched Ruth Graham share her story about her father. It was also resonated deeply with me as I identified my own story to hers and the response of my own father.

Dr. Graham lived what he taught.  As one of his sons said, “My dad was faithful, available, teachable”.  He reached out and befriended the poor, he didn’t shy away from dangerous, war torn countries, and took one of the first steps forward in abolishing racial discrimination.

The footsteps of Jesus isn’t a path that’s well worn and easy, but judging by the bold faith and the example of Dr. Graham, it’s an adventure that I don’t want to miss out on.

Congratulations Billy Graham, you made it home.



Photographer, Business Owner, Nature Addict, Coffee Obsessed, Pizza is my kryptonite.

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