It’s Day 260 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and with Billy Graham’s passing, it’s only natural and fitting for me to write about the legacy one of America’s most beloved evangelists left on my life. Raised primarily by my great aunt, Bertie (it was always Birdy to me), who was nearly sixty years my senior, watching Billy Graham crusades every time they were televised was a regular occurrence. If I close my eyes and listen hard enough, I can still hear his distinctive voice booming through the screen in my mind. We’d listen to him share the Good News of the Gospel – Jesus saves! – and witness throngs come forward to accept Him as their Lord and Savior while Mr. Graham led the multitude in singing, “Just As I Am”. Though only a child, I’d rejoice, having come to Christ already broken at the tender but tarnished age of eight. The Ds (dysfunction, domestic abuse, drugs and alcohol, etc.) had already shown up in full force then, making me even more cognizant of the legacy Billy Graham left on my life today.
When my husband informed me of Mr. Graham’s passing this morning, one of my first thoughts was of Aunt Birdy. I told him I never asked her how she came to be a believer herself. I suppose I was too young to even think of such a question, but in retrospect, I suspect it may have had something to do with those crusades. I lost my great aunt, who was more a mother to me than my biological parent, far too soon. Still, one day, I’ll have the chance to ask her. Until then, the faith, hope and love she passed down from Mr. Graham’s example and teaching lives on in me.
Having been exposed to all those television crusades, I was elated to have the opportunity to sing at one here in Cincinnati around Y2K. Following choir practice, the sky opened up and drove what was probably thousands of us beneath the covered concessions area of Paul Brown Stadium. While waiting for the storm to pass, someone started singing a hymn and soon we all joined our voices in praise. One song followed another…Nearly twenty years later, it’s about as close to heaven here on Earth as I’ve ever been.
Music has always drawn me straight into the heart of worship. Consequently, words can’t adequately describe how it felt to sing native Cincinnatian, Nicole C. Mullin’s “Redeemer” and then being treated to a live Third Day performance (lead singer Mac Powell’s voice is perfection as far as I’m concerned!). With my heart bursting wide open, I was beyond ready to hear the man I’d grown up listening to in person! His message was everything I’d imagined it would be. My heart leapt in recognition as he began singing the invitation hymn I recalled from my days with Aunt Birdy – “Just As I Am”. My eyes filled. And when the first person of thousands to accept the invitation rolled his wheelchair out onto the field, I could barely see him for the tears that spilled from them.
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Christian, I’ll never forget watching Billy Graham on T.V. and being at one of his crusades. Because of those experiences, my second thought after hearing about his passing was, Imagine the homecoming celebration in heaven! Immediately afterward though, I felt as if a light had gone out in the world…But I quickly realized it doesn’t have to. All of us who were impacted by his light shining and pointing us to Christ can make sure it continues to shine for others. In doing so, we too can leave a legacy like the one Billy Graham left on my life.
How can you be Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose and leave a legacy? How can you let your light shine? At home? At work? (Matthew 5:16).
Be savvy & chic,
~Pink Collar Coach