By Franklin Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
My father can no longer take walks or kneel in the woods to pray. His eyesight has dimmed and his conversations are brief. But I can tell you that he kneels in spirit to the Lord as he prays for lost souls and looks forward to eternal fellowship with His Savior in Heaven someday.
Many people have asked how my father is doing. He is a little bit stronger, and his vitals continue to be good. It seems the heat of the summer has been good for him.
Sixty-five years ago this August was a pivotal time in my father’s life. In fact, my son Will Graham recently traveled to San Bernardino, California, to help commemorate, on behalf of my father and me, a decisive step of faith that occurred at Forest Home Conference Center that summer of 1949. My father was 30 years old and preaching around the country. Another young preacher he knew had been questioning whether the Bible was truly and entirely the authoritative Word of God.
The issues this preacher raised began to trouble my father. Although he never doubted the truth of the Gospel, he wrestled over whether he could fully believe everything the Bible teaches. He even started wondering if his questions might cause him to give up preaching. He took his struggle with him when he traveled to California, where he was scheduled to speak at Forest Home in August and then begin a citywide tent Crusade in Los Angeles a few weeks later.
Late one night at Forest Home, discouraged and unable to sleep because of the burden that filled his mind, he got up and went out into the moonlight for a walk. In the nearby woods he came upon a tree stump, and he opened his Bible and laid it on the stump. Then he poured out the agony of his heart to God. He knew the matter had to be resolved one way or the other. Finally he knelt in the shadows by the stump with the Bible open before him and prayed, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.” At that moment, he later said, he felt the burden lift and sensed the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit in and around him. The same struggle stirs within many today.