LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
September 14, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Jean Brazzeal is a member of the congregation I attend here in Tampa. We were seated at the same table during a dinner at the church on Saturday evening and she mentioned coming across an article she had saved from THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, dated October 16, 2011. She thought I might be interested in reading it. She was right. The next morning she handed it to me just before class time during Sunday School. This morning I read it. It was an introductory article for Dr. Billy Graham’s latest book, “NEARING HOME.” Jean is from the Charlotte area and had a passing acquaintance with the Grahams who lived nearby.
I sort of grew up with Billy Graham in my spiritual journey. When I went to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California Billy Graham was on the Board of Trustees of the School. The famous Los Angeles crusade had just made history. My professor of Theology was Dr. Carl F. H. Henry who became the first editor of “CHRISTIANITY TODAY,” a journal of theology which was founded in part to chronicle the progress of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
My first congregation was in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. While there Billy Graham held his first New York crusade in Madison Square Garden, and we took a bus load from the congregation to attend. I also attended one of the early schools of evangelism held by the Graham association which was held in Washington DC.
Reading the article I was confronted with the fact that we all share the realities of growing older. My wife Joan used to forbid my saying we were growing old – just older. Dr. Graham will be 95 on November 7 of this year. He has been growing older 13 year longer than I have been. We have both lost our wives. I have lost two, both of whom were most remarkable women. Ruth Graham passed away in 2007.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is planning a nationwide evangelistic effort this coming November. They will be using the full range of media for the event. I am looking forward to it. This nation needs a new injection of spiritual awareness. In a more classic parlance, we need revival.
I have not read Billy Graham’s thirtieth book. I just loaded it on to my Kindle before beginning this article. The summery in the OBSERVER hit home. “Getting old is hard. Loss is hard. Loneliness, that’s hard too. But with prayer and a little planning there is always hope.”
My daughter Grace, who pastors in Belmar, New Jersey, listens to Billy Graham’s grandson at Ocean Grove when he is preaching there. The name and the calling of the Spirit of God seem to have moved through the generations. Dr. Graham full name is William Franklin Graham, Jr. His son Franklin used the middle name. His grandson uses the shortened form of William.
Getting older ought not to surprise us. However, it does. We just can’t do those things we used to. However, Dr. Graham puts it simply. “My prayer is that believers in Jesus Christ will walk the last mile of the way triumphantly, as Moses did when he died at age 120.”
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs