Evangelist Billy Graham died Wednesday. As it happens, the Winter Olympics were in full swing at the time of his death. Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz said shortly before her father went to heaven, she was deeply moved by a certain Olympic event she watched on television. Now, she says, looking back, that speed skating race directly paralleled her own father's "race" of life.
She wrote about this parallel in an article on her website she titled, "Finishing Strong," in which she quoted the apostle Paul who wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown." (2 Timothy 4:7)
Lotz recalled watching Sven Kramer win the 5000-meter speed skating race. Kramer was a "rock star" in his native country, the Netherlands. Likewise, she said her father, Billy Graham, was a "rock star in the Kingdom of God."
There was nobody like Kramer. "Not only had he won the gold medal for his race," Lotz wrote, "But he had set two other Olympic records: one for having won a gold medal in the same event in three successive Olympics, and the other as the speed skater who has won more Olympic medals than any other in history!"
Likewise, Lotz said, "My father ran his race of life with grace and power. There has been no one, there is no one, and there will not ever be anyone like Billy Graham," adding, he "Loved people and loved what he did: telling them that there is a God in Heaven who loves them, who sent Jesus, His own Son, to die for them; and that if they place their faith in Him, they would receive forgiveness for their sin, peace with God now and a heavenly Home when they die. On Wednesday morning, Daddy finished his race."
Lotz said another striking comparison between Billy Graham and the Olympic champion Sven Kramer is their deep humility.
Of all the similarities between Billy Graham and Sven Kramer, the most poignant, according to Lotz, is how their tireless efforts pleased their respective Kings.
Witnessing the Olympic speed skater's recent victory Lotz wrote, "The scene that brought tears to my eyes was not on the track, it was up in the stands. Because as Sven Kramer crossed the finish line, the camera panned across the crowd and focused on one man who was on his feet, wildly applauding. The announcer identified him. He was the king of the Netherlands."
Lotz said she imaged Jesus, the "King of Kings," responded in like manner as His representative, Billy Graham, crossed the finish line in total victory. "The vision that has come to my mind's eye is that of The King, standing to applaud His runner who finished strong! Well done, Daddy! Now there is in store for you the crown."