Recently, the world lost a historical spiritual leader. On February 21, 2018, the great Billy Graham passed away at his home in North Carolina. He was 99.
Many knew Graham and his many accomplishments, but few knew Chuck Templeton and Clifford Braun. All three men began their ministerial careers in the same era. Chuck Templeton was said to be one of the best pastors of his time. Somewhere along the way, however, he stopped believing, questioned his faith, gave up on life and became an atheist. Before he died, Billy visited Chuck and prayed for him. No judgement, no condemnation, just a portrayal of unconditional love from one friend to the other. We don’t know the end result of that visit or what was said. What we do know is Chuck died soon thereafter, a broken man who started his life strong and finished wrong.
Clifford Braun was labeled as one of the best evangelist in the country at a very young age. He later pulled away from the ministry, didn’t finish what he started and ultimately died of liver disease. While dying, it is said he wouldn’t even reach out to any of his friends for prayer or comfort.
Whether or not you ever heard of either one of these gentlemen, one thing is for sure, both started strong and eventually gave up. They allowed the challenges of life to get the best of them. Eventually, Billy Graham became known as “America’s Pastor” and the greatest evangelist this generation has ever known. He was a spiritual advisor to every American president since WWII. Both Johnson and Nixon, the two who probably sought him the most, offered him high positons in government…which he quickly and politely refused.
Graham personally preached to over 200 million people and hundreds of millions more via television and radio. His name appeared among the top 10 most influential people in America for years. It is probable to say that no single man will ever have the influence on people’s Christian faith that Graham had.
C.S. Lewis once said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the end.” No truer statement could be said. If you have made mistakes and feel like all hope is lost, think again. You were born to win but winning takes perseverance. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Don’t be another statistic. Regardless of what has happened in your life, realize that yesterday is over. Today is a new day. Past wrongs or hurts can’t keep you from fulfilling your destiny, only you can. You were equipped with everything it takes to complete your purpose. Most importantly, you are loved, you are forgiven and, you can be restored.
Should your life have taken a detour in the wrong direction, decide today to hit the reset button and get back on the right path. Refresh and reshape your life. Time will heal the past and, in the end, how you started and the mistakes you made along the way will long be forgotten in the minds of others. What you will be remembered for is how you finished the race.
RIP Billy Graham. Your legacy is a testament of how to finish strong for generations to come.