Billy Graham died today. 99 years of service. A life well lived.
It seems like death is all around us lately; school shootings, loss of kingdom warriors like Billy Graham, failing bodies. We can’t escape death. It’s part of this cursed world. And it sucks. Except that it doesn’t have to. God loves us. Amazingly well to boot. He died on that cross so that instead of mourning everlasting, we could rejoice in hope. He gave us truth. Things we can know, without question. One of those truths is that our death, the death of our bodies, isn’t the end. That if we have loved him, served him, accepted that we are broken and need him, we aren’t burdened with fear in death. Because as our bodies lie in the ground, our souls take their place in the most amazing place imaginable: the place where we are made new and dwell with God.
“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.” - Billy Graham
I hope that when faced with my own mortality, I can be as strong in my faith as Rev. Graham. He understood that our time on earth is temporary. He knew that heaven was better than anything else. But he also lived on this earth with a fire for the Lord and a passion for sharing His love with everyone he came into contact with. The anniversary of my mama’s passing is coming up. It seems the spring months are full of hard days for my heart. Her death seemed so awful. It was unexpected and she was too young. And then my son died after only 16 hours. My mama was 55. 16 hours seemed impossible to reconcile. I still struggle with his 16 hours. I wonder what kingdom work George Mason accomplished in 16 hours in a NICU bed. I hate that he’s not here with me and that I miss him. But never, not even in the worst moments, do I doubt his place with his Savior. For that, I am eternally grateful. I remind myself that his death hurts my heart. I remind myself that his death, any death for that matter, hurts God. But then I remind myself that even in death, Christ has won.
One of my journal entries from right after George Mason died included an excerpt from a John Piper sermon about infant death. I’m pretty sure I’ve written it down multiple times in the last year, but it’s so important for me to remember. : "Gods designs for [George Mason] were decided before he was born. [16 hours] of that work were on the earth; the rest will be in heaven. None of us can even begin to estimate the magnitude of either. Who knows what has been set in motion on earth by the birth, and death, and life of [George Mason]. It would be wild and unwarranted folly to think he has not changed the world." Wild and unwarranted folly to think he has not changed the world... I don’t know if George Mason changed the world, but he certainly changed my world and I will never unknow him or take for granted his impact on my own life.
When I remember my mama’s life I always hope that I can honor her by continuing the legacy she left. I don’t have a lot of stories or memories of George Mason that can understudy in his absence, but I can honor his life by continuing his legacy and I can create memories with his family because of his story. He was a fighter. He had a fierce desire to meet his parents and his sister. Those are things that can only come from his identity as God’s child. So I will continue to share the impact he left on my life. I will take solace in the fact that his death, while it broke my heart, wasn’t terrible or scary. I know that my mama heard the words “well done my good and faithful servant” and I know that even though his work for God’s kingdom was complete in a short 16 hours, George Mason also heard those coveted words.
Audrey told me today that her brother died and that she was sad he didn’t come home to live with us. My only response to that is “me too, kiddo. Me too. But heaven is pretty awesome, and we’ll meet him there one day”