Connecting to the Church Community: All Dressed Up with a Good Place to Go | Features
Billy Graham was 92 years old and had Parkinson’s disease when this real life event happened. In January 2000, the leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina invited their favorite son, Graham, to a luncheon in his honor. He was hesitant to accept the invitation as he was battling Parkinson’s disease. But Charlotte executives said, “We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you. So he accepted.
After the opening hugs, Graham climbed onto the podium, looked at the crowd and said, “I remember today Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month was honored by Time magazine as “man of the century”.
Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching each passenger’s tickets. When he came to Einstein, Einstein put his hand in his jacket pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he rummaged through his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there. He looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find the note. Then he looked at the seat next to him. He still couldn’t find it.
The driver said: “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Do not worry about that.
Einstein nodded appreciatively. The driver continued down the aisle, punching tickets. Then, as he was about to move on to the next car, he saw the tall physicist on all fours, reaching for his ticket under his seat.
The driver rushed over and said, “Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are, no problem. You don’t need a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.
Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.
Graham continued his speech. “See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new costume. My children and grandchildren tell me that I have become a little careless in my old age. Before, I was a bit pickier. So, I bought a new suit for this lunch and another occasion. Do you know what this occasion is? This suit is the suit I will be buried in. But when you find out I’m dead, I don’t want you to remember the suit I’m wearing. Instead, I want you to remember this: I don’t just know who I am. I also know where I’m going.
Many of us would agree with Graham: “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it makes no sense.”
There is a lesson here that we can take from Graham. We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.
Here are some quotes about death by some current cultural influencers who would likely disagree with Graham:
“I hate death. In fact, I could live forever without it.
“I intend to live forever, so far – so good.”
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.
“Life is unfair. If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all impersonators would be dead.
If the devil wrote a book, it would be called “You Only Live Once”. Please understand that life on this side of the curtain is temporal. Also, realize that life on the other side of the curtain is eternal. Graham knew the end was just the beginning in disguise. He knew who he was and where he was going.
Often, when one door closes, another opens; but more often than not we look so long and with regret at the closed door that we do not see the new door which has opened to us. Robert Millikan once said, “We come from somewhere and we go somewhere. The great architect of the universe never built a staircase that leads nowhere.
Death is only a transition; it’s the last step to something better. However, we have to take the first step (earth) to get to the last step (heaven). Death is not a period but a comma in the history of life.
But it takes faith to believe that there is life after death. Faith is not the absence of doubt, but the presence of belief. Faith is not something that goes against the obvious. It goes beyond. God never made a promise too good to be true.
Dwight L. Moody said, “Death may be the king of terrors…but Jesus is the king of kings.
Moody also said, “We talk about the fact that heaven is so far away. Paradise is within earshot of those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
Don’t be all dressed up, not knowing where you’re going. AW Tozer said, “Faith comes first to the hearing ear, not to a pondering mind.
The Bible says faith comes by hearing a word from God about Jesus, and that word is that Jesus saves. Faith is like a toothbrush. Everyone should have one and use it regularly, but they shouldn’t try to use someone else’s. Graham had that kind of faith, and we can have that kind of faith too.
May each of us live our lives in a faith-filled way, so that we don’t have to worry about where we are going when our ticket is punched. Fathers, Father’s Day is happiest when you invite Father’s Day into your home. It will do you good and help you too.
Ed Delph is a renowned author of 10 books, as well as a pastor, teacher, former business owner, and speaker. He has traveled widely, having visited over 100 countries. He is president of NationStrategy, a non-profit organization involved in uplifting and transforming communities around the world. For more information, visit nationstrategy.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]