This week Billy Graham died. Several times while driving this week I broke down in tears, weeping at the thought of both A) How many people he impacted for Jesus, and B) that I had not been sharing my faith like I know I should have been.
We had a friend of ours at Church the week before give some free tickets to my wife and I to go to Biltmore Estates in Asheville. It just so happens, that there would be a motorcade for Billy Graham coming through Black Mountain that day at 11:35am. I figured with the masses coming out to see this spiritual giant, Black Mountain would be our best shot at getting to see Billy Graham one last time. We planned on seeing Billy that morning at the motorcade, and then going to Biltmore after lunch.
To describe seeing the people pour out of the woodwork in the little town of Black Mountain was amazing. This motorcade was traveling from Billy’s place at The Cove to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. The road was packed the entire time. It was indescribable. When the motorcade came pulling through, and they ripped through, I don’t even think they hit the brakes, a deep sense of awe came down on the crowd. It was like you could feel the Holy Spirit. It was wild. It was like watching a funeral procession for Moses or Isaiah or something. I yelled out “God Bless that Man!” as the family drove by, and I could hear people weep as the motorcade passed. It was a surreal moment, a holy and refining moment for the entire crowd.
Billy Graham has literally reached more people for Christ than any other human on the face of the planet. Ever. The man was anointed, and to see the power and the effect of his life, all I had to do was look at the thousands of people that came out just to see that precious man one more time.
Billy had chosen to be buried in a simple plywood casket just like his wife. The most influential evangelist to live chose to go out in something you could put together from Lowes. In fact, the casket was made by convicted murderers from Angola, Louisiana. Murderers that were forgiven by Christ Jesus they same way I have. What a legacy!
After drying my eyes, Jude and I went back to my truck and we headed down the road to go to Biltmore Estates to see this enormous mansion built by Mr. Vanderbilt. This was also a legacy. One of the richest men in the world, builds the biggest house in the U.S., and most people have to pay $100 bucks to see it. We toured the gardens and the immaculate house. There is no bigger house I have ever seen. I have never been to a palace, but I imagine this is what a palace looks like. Unreal.
Here was what struck me comparing the two. Both Billy Graham and Mr. Vanderbilt have died. Both lived in the same area. One spent his life making vast sums of money, building a mansion that people will marvel at for hundreds of years, and then dying from appendicitis. The other simply spent his life working for God, and was buried in a plywood casket, but I guarantee that Billy’s mansion in heaven will make Biltmore look like government housing.
Who do you think made more of an impact? I would wager that Vanderbilt did not have people lining the streets for miles and miles just to see him one last time and say, “God Bless that man!” These two people’s lives compared to each other made me think of what Jesus said, “What good does it do for a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Here is where it matters:
We need money. Everybody needs it. Both Billy and Mr. Vanderbilt needed money as well during their lifetimes for various reasons. Money is like a brick, like my dad told me when I was younger. You can take that brick and build a church with it, or you can take a brick and build a prison with it. It’s just a brick.
The question is this: What am I doing with my bricks? What am I doing with my money? What I am working for? To build or buy bigger houses or wear nice clothes? I don’t give a crap about that stuff. I want to share the Gospel. How can the bricks that I have build his church? How can the bricks I have help fulfill the Great Commission?
We are not Billy Graham. You are you, and I am me. But we are all called to serve God with whatever we have, no matter how big or small.