All Dressed Up with Somewhere Good to Go
By Ed Delph
June 13, 2022
Billy Graham was 92 years old with Parkinson’s disease when this actual event happened. In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor. He hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggled with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, “We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.” So, he agreed.
After the opening accolades, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said,
“I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month was honored by Time magazine as the ‘Man of the Century.’
"Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached into his trouser pockets. It wasn't there. He looked in his briefcase but couldn't find the ticket. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.
"The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’ Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle, punching tickets. Then, as he was ready to move to the next car, he saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees, looking under his seat for his ticket.
“The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, 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.'
"Billy Graham continued with his speech.
“'See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand-new suit. My children and grandchildren tell me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So, I bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. Do you know what that occasion is? This suit is the suit in which I will be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to remember the suit I'm wearing. Instead, I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am. I also know where I'm going.'”
Many of us would agree with Billy Graham: "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point."
There's a lesson here we can glean from Billy 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 dying by some current cultural influencers who would probably disagree with Billy 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's not fair. If life was fair, Elvis would be alive, and all the impersonators would be dead."
If the devil wrote a book, it would be entitled "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. Billy Graham knew the end is just a beginning in disguise. He knew who he was and where he was going.
Often, when one door closes, another opens; but more often, we look so long and regretfully at the closed door that we do not see the new door that has opened us. Robert Millikan once said, “We have come from somewhere and are going somewhere. The great architect of the universe never built a stairway that leads to nowhere.”
Death is nothing but a transition; it is the final step toward something better. However, we need to make the first step (earth) to get to the last step (heaven). Death is not a period, but a comma in the story of life.
But it takes faith to believe 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 evidence. It goes beyond it. God never made a promise that was too good to be true.
Dwight L. Moody’s said: “Death may be the king of terrors…but Jesus is the King of Kings.” Moody also said: “We talk about heaven being so far away. Heaven is within speaking distance to those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”
Don’t be all dressed up, not knowing where you are going. A. W. Tozer said, "Faith comes first to the hearing ear, not to a cogitating mind." The Bible says faith comes by hearing a word from God concerning Jesus, and that word is Jesus saves. And faith is like a toothbrush. Every person should have one and use it regularly, but they shouldn’t try to use someone else’s. Billy 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 we don't have to worry about where we are going when our ticket is punched. Fathers, Father's Day is the happiest when you invite the Father of Fathers into your home. It'll do you good and help you too.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com