Earlier today I noted on Facebook that Grant Wacker of Duke Divinity School was going to have a busy day. In 2014, he published America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. I imagine his phone was ringing off the hook today.
Here is Wacker’s piece at The Washington Post about how Graham thought about his own death.
Graham told a friend that he was prepared for death but not for growing old.
Still, Graham soldiered on, year after year, until he preached his final evangelistic crusade in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., in the summer of 2005. Though others had to help him to the pulpit, the image of an old warrior of the cross, pressing far past the normal retirement age, help normalize the aging process for many and provided inspiration for millions.
As for his future, Graham made clear that he anticipated his demise as a door to a new life in heaven. “I’m looking forward to it — I really am,” he said in 1995, in his late 70s. “I’ll be happy the day the Lord says, ‘Come on. I’ve got something better planned.’ ”
To be sure, Graham admitted that he did not look forward to the dying process itself. He said he had seen “some of the terrible things that happen to people that are dying. I don’t want that.”
But beyond the event itself stood heaven as a place of glorious fellowship with the Lord, saints, loved ones and invigorating work to do. “Think of a place where there will be no sorrow and no parting, no pain, no sickness, no death, no quarrels, no misunderstandings, no sin and no cares.” The preacher even speculated about golf courses and beloved pets — whatever it took to make folks happy.
Read the entire piece here.