Dr. Billy Graham, iconic evangelist and counselor to presidents, is “doing well” but misses his beloved, late wife Ruth “more every day than he did the last,” daughter Anne Graham Lotz tells Newsmax in a revealing, exclusive interview.
“They had one of those marriages that sometimes you dream about but don’t experience yourself, and they were absolutely in love with each other,” she says, adding that for Rev. Graham life without his soul mate has been “harder than he could have imagined.”
Lately, Graham says, she senses that Rev. Graham is “beginning to want to go to his heavenly home,” but she adds he continues to pray for people involved in the news.
Newsmax interviewed Anne Graham Lotz as part of its April cover story on the return of Jesus Christ.
The founder of Angel Ministries spoke candidly on the Gospel message, how it informs the lives of believers, and the hope it offers even amidst today’s difficult times.
Newsmax: Your father has impacted the lives of millions around the globe. How is he doing these days?
Anne Graham Lotz: He’s physically, I believe, doing well, although the last time I was home I felt that in his spirit, he’s beginning to want to go to his heavenly home. He misses my mother every day more than he did the last. They were married 64 years, and just adored each other. They had one of those marriages that sometimes you dream about but don’t experience yourself, and they were absolutely in love with each other. It was so very precious and to be without her has been, I think he would tell you, harder than he could have imagined.
But he loves Jesus. He has a heart for the gospel. He watches a lot of TV, because he stays close to the home and tracks with the news. He prays for the people that he sees involved in the news and so he is doing well that way. But he turned 90 in November and I think, at 90, he deserves to just relax and take it easy. And if he wants to go home -- I just pray. I told him I want him to stay around as long as he possibly can because I can’t imagine a world without my daddy. When that moment comes I pray that God will give me grace.
Newsmax: So many people are out of work, struggling, and going through personal tribulation. What encouragement would you offer them?
Anne Graham Lotz: My message can be summed up in one word and it’s Jesus. I believe that God has a plan and purpose not only for the human race, but for my individual life. God has a plan and purpose for your life and the first part of that plan, of course, had to do with your creation. I believe we are created by God to know him in a personal relationship, and because sin came into our lives and broke the relationship with God for which we are created, that is why he sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross to take away our sins, to forgive, to make atonement for our sin.
So when I put my faith in Jesus Christ as my savior, and I asked him to forgive and to come into my life and he does -- from that moment forward I have established a personal relationship with God that I have to develop, you know, through Bible reading and prayer, and living my life for him. But it’s a personal relationship where I can know God, and I can know that he knows me, and has a plan and a purpose for me.
So the world around me can crash and come unglued and unravel and some it may affect me if I haven’t handled my finances right. If I have overspent, then I may get caught up in some of what is happening today but he, Jesus, is still the answer. And he can give you wisdom even if it is your fault.
Even if you are in a financial situation that is your fault, he can give you answers and help you through it, and help you get out of it … bring people to you that would give you the right advice … give you practical wisdom that you can’t think of on your own.
And in the end he is our hope because we know, and I believe this with all of my heart, that there was a beginning to the human race and there is an end to the human race. And that we are a part of human history as God has designed it to be, and one day it is going to be summed up in Jesus.
Jesus is coming back, and if he doesn’t come back physically to this earth in my lifetime, when I die he comes for me. So my life still has an end so to speak and I believe he has a purpose for my life until the day comes when I step into eternity -- or until the day when he comes back to receive me to himself. But my hope is that this life is not all there is. This life is like preparation for what is coming next, and what is coming next is something so glorious that the Bible says minds can’t conceive it, eye has never seen, your imagination could never even enter into all that God is preparing for those who love him.
So we have enormous hope even though the world looks like it is falling apart. The Bible tells us that it is falling into place and one day it will be right at the feet of Jesus.
Newsmax: How does the concept of Christ’s Second Coming motivate your work?
Anne Graham Lotz: Even as a teenager, I felt that for whatever reason that we were living very close to the end of human history. And now at my age I believe that with almost an increasing certainty. I believe that this is the last generation of human history, and I base that on what I read in scripture and on what I read in my newspapers. So it is not a feeling, it’s a deep conviction that is borne out of the facts of what I see happening in our world, and the facts that Jesus gave us. And he said that you can’t know the day or the hour, but you can know the generation.
Newsmax: How does that knowledge change things for believers?
Anne Graham Lotz: He gave us enough signs that we can know when that time is coming near. So for me it is very exciting in one sense, but I’m very motivated to present God’s word in such a way first of all to wake up God’s people in their relationship. Because I believe that churches are filled with people that were somewhat like myself and, you know, have a relationship with him. They are perhaps saved and know that they are going to heaven, but at the same time the responsibilities of life, our families, our businesses, our jobs -- they can just move God out to the periphery.
Newsmax: Some theologians say evangelicals sometimes get to carried away looking for the signs of the times as it were. What’s your view?
Anne Graham Lotz: We can get very sidetracked on the message of the end times and all of the prophecy, until we can almost get consumed with it. And all we are trying to figure out is how things fit into the end time prophecy, and lose sight of the world around us. And I don’t think that that is right.
I also don’t think that it is right to bury your head in the sand and think, ‘Well we have always been like this, there have always been wars, there have always been disturbances. We have always had these natural disasters and, therefore, we just think, ‘Well he’s not coming because he hasn’t come.’ So both of those are extremes. Neither one of these, I believe, is right.
We don’t get fixated on it, but that it our hope: That this world is coming to a purpose and the purpose is going to be Jesus Christ, who will come to rule and reign on this earth. That is our hope: We’re going to heaven, we’re going to live with him forever.
That is our hope, but at the same time that should be translated in a life here that is very involved in the people around us, very involved in helping them and presenting the gospel as well as meeting the needs of those who are going through a difficult time, and perhaps are overwhelmed by life.
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