A first glimpse of God ... And peace

I was born in 1961. It took awhile, but at a certain point in my childhood, memories started forming — memories that last to this day.

And like all memories of childhoods, they become fuzzy after time. There is a distinct softening of the edges, a tendency to recall everything as being “good.”

As it should be.

Childhood memories should be good. They should be warm and fuzzy like a soft blanket or a kitten. They should make you smile.

My grandparents, John Dexter and Lucy Leinart, provide my young mind’s eye with numerous such memories.

Ginormous Sunday dinners, little jokes and witticisms (meant for an eight or nine-year-old to understand).

Warmth. Love.

There are two memories I have of them that always come to the forefront though: Lawrence Welk shows and Billy Graham crusades broadcasts of the television.

See, Sunday dinners weren’t “Sunday dinners” without Lawrence Welk.

And Billy Graham crusades weren’t missed.

Big football game on? Fourth quarter with less than five minutes and team driving for what could be a game winning score?

Sorry, the Rev. Billy Graham was coming on another channel.

And there we were, my entire family sitting in my grandparent’s spacious living room watching the Rev. Billy Graham.

And you know what? I love those memories.

Because he seemed to “talk” to the kid I was. He spoke of God’s love. He spoke of seeking forgiveness and a righteous path.

Was this preaching?

Wow. This is nice.

This is ... Comforting.

And as I grew older, as the world around me grew more cynical and became harder to understand, harder to find a place in, I would remember (at my lowest times) those Sunday afternoons at my grandparent’s house watching Lawrence Welk and then watching the Rev. Billy Graham reach out through cathode tubes and electronic gizmos inside a big box Zenith.

If I were a smarter person maybe I could remember all the words, all the sermons.

But I do remember the sense of ... Comfort.

When he died last Wednesday I knew the Rev. Billy Graham was in good hands. His legacy is in good hands.

Because part of his legacy rests with men like myself.

The Rev. Billy Graham gave me my first glimpse of how to seek Godliness, how to find peace with myself.

And after reading Mrs. Edwards’ excellent piece on the Rev. Billy Graham, I researched how he was reaching an unprecendented height — worldwide — in his ministry …

And knowing he stopped, reached out to touch a hurting community, when he could have skipped over little ole Clinton, Tennessee, and delivered his message to bigger venues carrying more prestige and media coverage and brighter lights …

After reading Elenora’s story, I know the Rev. Billy Graham gave everyone a first glimpse of how to seek Godliness and how to find peace.