Billy Graham and My Grandfather’s Legacy

As you’ve probably heard, Billy Graham passed away on Wednesday, January 21, 2018. With news articles galore circling the globe about his legacy, there’s one aspect I would like to highlight. The world-renown evangelist once said,

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” – Billy Graham

I’m not sure truer words have ever been spoken. Graham certainly passed on a legacy of character and faith to his children, and to all of us. A legacy of character and faith is what every generation ought to strive to leave behind to the younger generation.

My Papa’s Legacy and My Conversion

My papa (grandfather for those unfamiliar with the term) was a man of utmost character. He worked hard, loved one woman, was faithful to God, and tried his best to live with integrity. He was a character loved by his community. At his funeral, as I walked in with the rest of my family, I looked around in awe of how many people were in attendance. My father turned and whispered to me, “That’s the blood that runs through your veins.” What he meant was, “You come from a line of men of character. All of these people are a testimony to your papa’s.” Certainly then, and probably now, I had not “lived up”. At the time, 19 years old, I was living a rebellious lifestyle doing whatever pleased me for the moment.

Not long after my papa’s funeral I moved off to college where my sinful lifestyle only worsened. But one night, as I was driving to a party, a thought ran through my mind. A thought I was unfamiliar with. “What would papa say?” Now, don’t be confused. Though I certainly felt guilt, what I really felt was pride. I wasn’t proud of myself, but I was proud to belong to my papa’s lineage. I’m proud to be his grandson. I’m proud to be my father’s son. So I looked at him, and looked at myself – driving to a party to debauch myself. I was disgusted. Who had I become? With such a cloud of witnesses before me, how had I fallen so far? The problem was sin. The answer was God’s love through Jesus. I knew if I was ever going to be the man my papa was, I would need God’s love. I also knew I was not deserving of this love, but that He promised it to me anyway. Somehow, from the grave, my papa had led me to Christ. I was moved to tears. I had to pull over on the side of the road and let it all sink in. After a good cry, I turned my car around and went home. I was never the same. I never turned that car around again, so to speak. I repented of my sins and began following Jesus. I went to church for the first time in years. Fast forward about six years, I am now a children’s minister at the church I grew up in – at the church where papa would sit a pew behind my family every Sunday morning.

I think Billy Graham’s words are some of the most important words ever spoken. There exists in America today a generation, or generations, that are wholly indifferent to the idea of a legacy of character and faith. As a millennial, I feel lucky to have been exposed to such godly men. I know such men are few and far between these days. Perhaps, this is what drew me to children’s ministry in the first place. What the millennial’s, and generations following need is inspiration. They need a cloud of witnesses – who in the face of a culture so depraved, did not falter in their integrity, character, and faith. I suppose, in short, they need someone to look up to. Where are the heroes? Where are the men and women who, through “ordinary” lives like my papa’s, leave such an extraordinary legacy? My papa didn’t accomplish much according the world’s standards, but the legacy he left to those who knew him was tremendous. I wish I could tell him how much his legacy means to me. While he was still with us, I was too busy to realize all of this, but I know one day I will see him again. For the legacy he left behind has made an eternal impact in the life of his grandson.

What legacy will we leave behind?

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35 Replies to “Billy Graham and My Grandfather’s Legacy”

  1. True words powerfully, and transparently, rendered. Thank you. Peace of Christ be with you, and the grace of God flow through you to those among whom you serve.

  2. Wonderful post. Yes, the integrity, faith, and honor leave behind for your family matters, but also, as a professor, I worked hard to teach this to my sociology students. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I would have liked to have met and known him.

  3. Wow! Wow! and double Wow! What an awesome post! This statement right here is extraordinarily powerful: “Somehow, from the grave, my papa had led me to Christ.” Now, that is legacy! You truly have been blessed with a godly family heritage!
    The other thought this post stirs in my mind is the rather shocking one of how there will now be generations who do not know of Billy Graham. He was around for so long, that I figured the world would surely end shortly after he died because we wouldn’t know how to go on without him!
    So, who will step up and take his place of being a pure, towering, shining lighthouse? I doubt any singular person could be an adequate match for Brother Graham, but I’m hoping/praying that multitudes of us will feel the emptiness of his now vacated role and will do the diligence required to be just as pure (unscathed by scandal), just as humble, and just as singularly focused on the Gospel as Billy was. Not trying to be just as famous as he, but just as distinctly set apart and devoted to God as he.
    Otherwise, if we don’t fill that void, my prediction will come true. The world as we know it will come to a quick end, because it’ll quickly “go to hell in a hand-basket” if we don’t!

  4. Well said, well written. What an excellent tribute to your grandfather and the power of Christ to move in our lives. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a short story but a good one. It’s so great that your grandpa had such a great impact on you even when you weren’t following God. That’s awesome how that happened – it just goes to show that lives that seem “ordinary” can still have such a great impact because they are impacted by God! This makes me think of the legacy left behind by generations before me too. Thanks for sharing!
    PS Also thanks for starting to follow my blog. 🙂

  6. This is a beautiful testimony to your Papa and the grace of God! Please keep writing! You have a gift and your voice needs to be heard in your generation. Praying for you as you pursue God!

  7. You were profoundly blessed to have such a family. I speak as one who had just the opposite. While I was happy to be in church as a child, my parents took me more out of a sense of duty than of really having a deep commitment to Christ. I did not see the Christian life lived around me, and by the time I hit high school graduation, I was ripe for the plucking – by the devil. I left no stone unturned in my investigation of wickedness.

    It is by God’s grace that I am here today. Count your blessings, Haden, and be thankful that in heaven, your papa was praying for you before the Throne of Grace.

  8. Hi Haden. Great God-story my friend. I am happy for you and your Papa. I know you wish your Papa knew how much his legacy impacted you, but as I sit here I have this sense that the Lord of all good things probably let him know.
    Praying the Lord blesses you as you continue Christ’s legacy that your Papa so diligently pursued.

  9. Thanks for sharing…….glad I found your blog and looking forward to your writings in the future!

  10. Truly, we will all be held accountable for every idle word we speak, and thank God your grandfather spoke such truth and wisdom to you. Your post gives me hope, I have some family members who reject Jesus, they prefer yoga, mysticism, and the occult. I will keep praying for them, but you know what? At the last moment, before you die, it’s between YOU and Jesus Christ. You will be held accountable, we all will, for what we did with this life God gave us. Tell others about Jesus today, get Gospel tracts and leave them wherever you go. Be a witness for Jesus, no matter if you’re liked for that or not. Endure to the end.
    Romans 10:9-13

  11. God bless you. You walk the talk and will leave a beautiful legacy of faith with your actions that match your words. Thank you!

  12. your personal touch made this very enjoyable to read! i vote more (of this) in your writing! well done!

  13. thanks for the follow. Barking in the Dark will always endeavor to inform, agitate and, above all, amuse. continue…and…in light of your words i am curious as to what you think of our President?

  14. Hello! This post was really beautiful. I was able to relate to it in many ways. My grandpa was also in the ministry of God. The way he lived as if God was just standing there in front of him, the way he spoke the gospel not caring what people thought of him, how in his life the reality of God was so strong, always moves me to tears and challenges me. I love apologetics. I’m working on a new blog in which I am relying on God to help me answer the questions that is ruining our nations and our planet. Please pray for me. I just got out of school. I’m so happy I stumbled on this blog. Thank you for following my blog. Thank you for the good work you are doing, God bless you, brother!

  15. Enjoyed your post and your point of view! Thanks for writing.
    The English teacher in me has to say . . . I will not “bare with you,” but I will BEAR with you! 😉

  16. I call myself a “legacy writer,” as I write about the legacy left by my ancestors. Thanks for teaching me about Billy Graham’s quote — “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” I am going to use that in the book I am writing about my great great grandfather’s diary while a Union soldier in the Civil War. Thus, you will be in my bibliography. I may use it on my next printing of my business cards!

  17. Fantastic testimony! Wow, the good Lord marked you from birth and used that wonderful man in your life to bring you, and others, to Himself. Rich blessing! Thanks for the follow brother.

  18. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I am always so happy to find other like-minded people.
    May God bless you and all those who read your words.

  19. You’re absolutely right, one biblical proverb says, ” train up a child in the way that he should grow and when he is old, he will not depart”, it holds more truth than we realize because if it didn’t, I would have never found my way back to the cross. Funny, at the time, we didn’t think much of it but God has a time for everything as he hauls his children away from the world and into his grace.

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