CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some of Rev. Billy Graham's extended family told me he wouldn't want all this fuss. The campus of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association is abuzz with well-planned, coordinated activity. The Secret Service is everywhere. Media trucks are parked an arm's length apart.
Maybe Rev. Graham wouldn't want all the attention of this "final crusade." He was humble, had a good sense of humor and enjoyed wearing blue jeans and a ball cap when visiting with family.
But, he was "America's Pastor" for decades. Millions of people had the seed of their faith planted or refreshed through his desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I'm on of them.
In 1996, I was 20-years-old and asked to deliver the closing prayer at his crusade in Charlotte. It was youth night and Bank of America Stadium was full (known as Ericsson Stadium at the time).
It was a privilege and honor I certainly didn't deserve. I never went into ministry. My Christian walk of faith is not one to model. My home church had worked closely with organizers for the Carolinas Crusade and we all participated in the training and events leading up to that special week.
As I reflect on Rev. Graham's passing, I've thought about how much my practice and understanding of faith has evolved in those years. So much has happened: moments and marathons of joy and grief in our family, career changes, life changes.
Because of nerves, I barely recall what Billy Graham preached that night, but I know the message. It never changed.
I heard it so many times while watching other crusades with my parents on TV. It applied to that 20-year-old girl with her knees shaking on stage with "America's Pastor."
It still applies today.
I often think back to one image that stays with me most from that night. It's not the crowd, or the lights, or watching the musical performances. I remember most watching how Rev. Graham prepared to deliver God's Word. Backstage, he was focused, prayerful and determined.
There wasn't small talk or signing autographs. He was serious and serene.
It helped calm me down.
The memory has helped me through the years remember what to do when things are scary, beyond our control, and bigger than us...go to God.
Sometimes, I forget. I'm inconsistent at best. The memory of that moment brings me back. Maybe he didn't want all the fuss. He deserves it though. Thank you, Reverend Graham.