Billy Graham passed away today, Wednesday, February 21. He was 99. Graham used to say, “When you hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before!”
The most widely known evangelist of our time, Graham preached to millions across the world, advised presidents, met with world leaders—and made it his mission to share the message of the gospel.
His life is a powerful reminder that you don’t need anything more than a basic explanation of the gospel to change a life for eternity.
When I think of Billy Graham, I also think of the power of simple obedience over a long life.
Billy Graham once said, “Faith that saves has one distinguishing quality: saving faith is a faith that produces obedience; it is a faith that brings about a way of life.”
Billy Graham wasn’t perfect—he admitted his regrets, including the lack of time he spent with his children when they were young—but he was consistent, passionate and never disqualified himself from the ministry God called him to. And God used him to reach millions.
Today, right now, he’s in the very presence of the Lord he proclaimed for nearly 100 years. What a sweet time that must be.
When I think of Billy Graham, I also think of women like Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1984). Corrie’s family hid Jews in their house during World War II. They were arrested and sent to the Ravensbruck death camp. Corrie endured great suffering, but she kept the light of the gospel in her heart and on her lips, extended forgiveness to her persecutors—and, like Billy Graham, lived a simple life of obedience.
I also think of Brother Andrew , the founder of Open Doors, still alive today. Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles behind the iron curtain—and devoted his life to serving the persecuted Church. When everyone else was running away from danger, Brother Andrew packed up his VW Bug with Bibles and drove directly into it—trusting God to show up. “That’s the excitement in obedience,” he says, “finding out later what God had in mind.”
Billy Graham, Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew and others like them all belong to an era of Christianity that was based on taking small steps of obedience over a long period of time for God-sized impact. It’s an era I think, personally, we need to return to.
Billy Graham often said, “My home is in heaven—I’m just traveling through this world.”
And it’s a great reminder.
He’s home now, but if you’re reading this, your travels are still underway. Remember, it’s never too late to be obedient.
And a simple life of obedience can change the world.