But she was called as a missionary to Tibet, and he was not.
“Do you believe that God brought us together?” he asked her in the intervening weeks.
Of course she did.
“In that case, God will lead me and you will do the following.”
“And I have been following ever since,” wrote Ruth Bell Graham in It’s My Turn.
But for the wife of Billy Graham, following her husband meant staying home, raising their five children while he traveled. That alone tells me she was a woman of strength. And that she got her strength from a never-ending Source.
I picked up my paperback copy of It’s My Turn the day after the news of Mrs. Graham’s death. It had sat on my shelf unread ever since I’d found it. Now seemed like a good time to read about this woman behind the man, this wife waiting at home for the returning evangelist.
There are few well-renowned people I agree with completely. Even fewer I would choose to emulate in all aspects of their lives. But I can I find what I admire about them, and learn from that.
As with everything I read, I paid particular attention to what she wrote about her marriage. I found much to ponder.
“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain.”
And well-aware of the child growing so near the book I held in my lap, her words on motherhood had more to say to me than they might have a year ago.
“A good mother is one who makes it easy for a child to be good.”
The Grahams were obviously both of strong and very different personalities. But they had a love that stayed strong through long separations and kept growing for almost 64 years of marriage (their 64th anniversary would have been August 13). That is why I paid close attention to their secrets.
“Love is not only the ‘union of two good forgivers’ but the ‘union of two good appreciators.'”
“A Christian wife’s responsibility balances delicately between knowing when to submit and when to outwit. Adapting to our husbands never implies the annihilation of our creativity, rather the blossoming of it.”
And she had a faith, that sustained her through it all. That is why I listened carefully to her words.
“For me, spiritual dryness usually follows an extremely busy period. Air must be still for dew to fall, and I was anything but still.” (emphasis mine)
“Worship and worry cannot live in the same heart: they are mutually exclusive.”