To be honest with you, I never knew much about Billy Graham. In the contemporary Christian era in which I came to Christ, it was all light shows and lasers, not really truth and grace. But as I watch the world mourn this man - a world that came to faith through him and a world that still does not buy his faith - and talk about a great man of faith who this week only changed his address, I've gotta tell you:
I hope that's what I'm doing here.
Earlier this week, I finished up writing a "Philosophy of Christian Leadership" theory paper. Short version? I don't have one. God never told us to lead; He told us to follow. And that, I think, is what every one of us has to be responsible for - the following that we do, not the following that we gain.
But men like Billy Graham, pastors all over this globe, and yes, even me on occasion, we catch something out of the corner of our eye, turn around for just a second, and wouldn't you know it? Someone is following our following. And all of a sudden, we're leaders.
That's what made Graham so remarkable. He never forgot his first love. He knew that no matter how many people were going his way, the road that he was on led to Christ alone, and he made sure to get out of the way enough that others could see His glory. He knew that he could only ever lead anyone as far as the grave, and that's not where he wanted to take them.
As I said in my paper, we're not headed toward a bigger church or greater financial wealth or a remarkable reputation in our communities; we're headed toward Christ. That's what this whole Christian thing is all about, for all of us.
Billy Graham had eyes for Home. He knew what that glorious day held for him, and I can't imagine much time at all passing without him thinking about what that day meant. Particularly as he got older. Particularly as he got frailer. Particularly as that day, for him, drew near.
And I think it's through Billy's eyes that I finally understand what Paul was saying. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that whether he lived or died, that was fine with him, but it was better for the church if he lived. That way, he said, he could bring to them the hope and make sure they were secure in it.
That's the hope that danced in Billy's eyes. All you had to do was look at the man ad see that Heaven glittered in his soul. You looked at him and you saw this confident assurance about all that was to come, and it didn't diminish his love for the church but can't you just hear Billy echoing Paul's chorus here? Whether I live or die, that's cool, but it's better that I live.
That the world may see not where, but how, hope dwells.
I hope that's what I'm doing here.
I hope that's what I'm doing here, but some days, I just don't know. I don't know because there's not a lot of room any more in this world for something like hope. There's not a lot of room any more in this world for...Heaven. I take a lot of flak for my idealism, a lot of criticism from those who say that's just not the way this world works. And I know it - it's not. But it's the way that Heaven works. And I think that as time goes on, it's harder and harder to see that as something good and beautiful and heavenly, and it's far more common to see it as naivete or blindness.
But I guarantee you that Billy was neither naive nor blind. He saw perfectly clearly, and if you looked carefully, so, too, could you...through his eyes.
I think a lot about Home. I think a lot about Heaven. Truth is, there's nothing in this world that I want, and there's certainly nothing here that I need. Whether I live or I die, that's fine by me. But if it's better for the church that I live, let it be because it is through my eyes that they see not where, but how, hope dwells. Let it be because through my eyes, this world catches a glimpse of Heaven. Let it be because the Promise that dances in my spirit invites others onto the floor.
Lord, I hope that's what I'm doing here.