A plain wooden box and a humble man

By Betty Slade
Special to The PREVIEW
In the United States Capitol rotunda, these words were spoken about Billy Graham: “He went home to be with his best friend.” For one moment, our country’s religious and political leaders came together and put their differences aside to honor Graham. They were in the presence of a greater man, Jesus of Nazareth, who embodied his servant.
We watched as Graham’s body was transported up the long flight of steps. In a plain wooden coffin, he lay in the center of the high-domed room. The simple casket, handmade by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, was lined with a mattress pad. On the top was a simple wooden cross, which was nailed into place by the prisoners.
The hands of three inmates, sentenced to life for murder and one serving more than 30 years for armed robbery, made the box and their names were burned deep into the side of the casket. Graham’s son requested this humble act for his father, a man who served and loved his Master for 80 years, who also was numbered with sinners and murderers and lay in a borrowed tomb.
Graham’s message was about a relationship with Jesus, pure and simple. He preached over religious walls. He refused to see color or culture segregated. He bridged countries with his message of love.
The day was about Graham, known as the pastor to the presidents and was the first religious leader to lie in honor at the United States Capitol. He had a personal audience with 12 consecutive presidents and touched millions in his lifetime. He conducted 417 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents and preached to over 215 million people.
I questioned as I’ve seen great men and leaders fall, “What sustained this man, Billy Graham, who lived a life above reproach?” No scandals, no negatives or headlines posting his failures. I believe it was his humbleness before God and his commitment to His Lord and Savior.
Graham, an ambassador for Christ, was chosen and anointed by God to preach the Good News. When Graham preached the love of God, many turned from their sins and confessed the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Millions watched on television while people lined up to pass by the coffin of Graham. Not a casket for a king or the pomp and vanity of prideful men. This homemade pine box held a humble man, a servant who changed generations and the face of history.
We saw a true Christian walk by in our lifetime, with no respect for rich or poor, black or white, Protestant or Catholic. He saw everyone equal who needed a savior and the love of God.
“Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord.” — Matthew 25:21.

This story was posted on July 12, 2018.