I Feel So Small

How many of you watched the dedication of the Billy Graham Library Thursday evening on TBN? I watched it, and I am so glad I did.

Former Presidents Carter, Clinton and Bush were invited guest speakers. Witney Phipps and Ricky Skaggs were invited singers. The Governor of North Carolina and the Mayor of Charlotte were gracious in their welcoming remarks. In his frail and feeble condition, Billy addressed the congregation by thanking everyone, by name, for their participation. The ceremony concluded with his two dear friends George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows leading the congregation in “How Great Thou Art.” It was an event full of pomp and circumstance. Yet it was also a ceremony of inspiration.

There were more than a few noteworthy moments.

It was magnanimous of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to invite former Presidents Bush, Carter and Clinton. Watching them react to the ceremony while sitting on the rostrum with Dr. Graham and his son, Franklin, was interesting television. By appearances only, each man looked outwardly humbled to share the stage with Billy Graham.

Is it just me, or do not most of our former presidents carry an air of humility about them? I think they do. I wonder if it has to do with the consequence of serving as the leader of the free world. Or, it may just be me. Do any of you recognize this quality in our retired presidents? I realize also it may have something to do with the way I esteem the office. Remember, only 43 men have been elected president in our nation’s brief history. Presidents of the United States are in elite company.

Before singing, Ricky Skaggs said of Billy Graham, “This is not what one man has done for Jesus Christ, but what Jesus Christ has done for one man.”

Patrick L. McCrory, the Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, shared revealing story from his life while observing Dr. Graham. In 1996 McCrory and the governor of North Carolina joined Dr. Graham in riding a golf cart into the Bank of America stadium for a crusade. As they entered the stadium thousands stood to their feet to welcome Billy Graham. The mayor said he and the governor were doing what politicians do, waving to the crowd. In stark contrast, he said Graham leaned over and whispered, “I’m embarrassed. This isn’t about me; it is about the message.” President Clinton observed how Billy Graham ministered to him personally. “When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs in the White House, you feel he’s praying for you, not the president,” said Clinton.

The line of the day came toward the end of the ceremony when Billy Graham addressed the audience: “I feel like I’ve been attending my own funeral. I know they all meant it. I feel so small.”

Later, while commenting on the new library, Graham said, “There’s too much Billy Graham. My whole life I have lived to please the Lord and honor him, not to please me.”

Billy Graham is known as America’s pastor. Some of called him the greatest evangelist to ever live. He’s preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to 210 million people in 185 countries on six different continents. Millions have been born again into God’s family because of his witness. Of all that can be said of Dr. Graham, to say he is a humble man is understatement.

For those of you who watched it, what did you think of the ceremony?


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