Billy Grahams daughter, Anne Graham Lotz of Raleigh, is an international speaker, award-winning author and president of AnGeL Ministries. This essay is one of 101 included in Billy Graham & Me, by Steve Posner and Amy Newmark.
The week following my seventeenth birthday, my high school held the Baccalaureate, a Sunday service for members of the senior class, their families and friends. I knew it would be a memorable day for several reasons, one of them being that my father was guest speaker.
As I ran out the door of my parents home, I told them I would meet them at the auditorium where the Baccalaureate was to be held. I then jumped into my mothers little Volkswagen and floored the accelerator as I dashed down the winding mountain road that led from the house. I knew I was running late, but I had promised to pick up some of my friends, giving them a ride to the service. As I rounded one hairpin curve, I came face to face with a great big, white Buick Riviera coming up the mountain. It was too late to avoid a collision so I slammed on my brakes and jerked hard to the right. The VW went up a steep embankment, but not before that big Buick had crashed into the side of my mothers VW. I can still hear the crunch of the metal and the breaking of the glass. As the rear wheels still spun in the dirt, I tried to get out, but the door was smashed so I had to climb over the stick shift and exit from the passenger side. The lady who had driven the white Buick was standing beside her car, with a stunned expression on her face. I recognized her as our neighbor who was coming up to stay at our house while we were all at the Baccalaureate. I immediately apologized and asked her help in pulling the fender off the wheel so I could continue my journey. Before I pulled away, I pleaded, Remember, dont say anything to my parents.
Driving very slowly, I picked up my friends, arriving late to the Baccalaureate. I parked the VW with the smashed side against some bushes in case somebody walked by, and then asked my mother, What happened to your car? I ran to take my place in the line of seniors that were already marching into the auditorium. as I took my place on the sixth row from the front, with hair disheveled and mascara streaks on my face, I sought to look very generic in my cap and gown.
I dont remember much about the service except that my father marched across the platform, looked straight at me and then said to everybody that I had never caused him any problems and that I had been a joy to my mother and him. I prayed I would die! As I bolted for the door when the service concluded, somebody grabbed me on the shoulder and said, Anne, your father wants to see you. ... Sure that judgment was about to be rendered, I went out to the front of the building where he was. He was surrounded by newsmen and cameras, all wanting to take a picture of my father and me on this wonderful and special day. (The next day the Asheville Citizen-Times ran a front-page picture of my father adjusting my cap, while the mascara streaks down my face seemed to indicate that I was just emotionally overcome on this wonderful day!)
Finally, I slipped away, returned my friends to their homes, and went very slowly back up the mountain road to our home. I prayed as I drove, Dear God, please have my daddy anywhere -- he can be on the phone, he can be in his study, he can be taking a walk -- just please dont have him where I will have to see him right now, because I just have to think this through. I promise Im going to tell him -- just not now.
I pulled into the driveway, parking the car so the bashed-in side was away from the kitchen door. I tiptoed up to the door and opened the screen door very carefully so it wouldnt squeak. I slipped inside poised to run up the stairs to my room. When I turned around, my father was standing right inside with his piercing blue eyes directed straight towards me. I paused for a moment, then ran to my father and threw my arms around his neck! As I clung to him, I sobbed, Daddy, Im so sorry. If you just knew what Id done, you never would have said all those nice things about me. I told him about my wreck -- how Id driven way too fast and smashed into Mrs. Pickerings car. I told him it wasnt her fault, it was all mine. As I clung to him and wept on his shoulder, he said four things to me that taught me a lifes lesson about my relationship with my heavenly Father:
1 Anne, I knew all about your wreck. Mrs. Pickering came right up the mountain and told me -- I was just waiting for you to tell me.
2 I love you.
3 We can fix the car.
4 You are going to be a better driver because of this.
Ive never forgotten -- and the lifes lesson is this: Sooner or later, all of us are involved in a wreck where we get hurt or someone else does. It can be a physical wreck, or an emotional or financial or relational wreck. The wreck may be your fault or someone elses fault.
When involved in a wreck its vitally important to not run away from our heavenly Father, or try to hide from Him, or avoid Him, or deny responsibility, or rationalize our behavior. We need to run to Him, throw our arms of faith around Him, and confess our sin. Just pour out our hearts and tell Him about the trouble we are in and the mess weve made.
If you listen carefully, you will hear your heavenly Father whispering to your heart: I knew all along about your sin. I was watching you when it happened. I was just waiting for you to come tell Me. I love you. I can fix the mess youve made and turn the consequence into a blessing if you will submit them to Me. And in the long run, you will be a better person because of this -- more compassionate towards others and more trusting of Me.
From the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me by Steve Posner and Amy Newmark. Copyright 2013 by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a registered trademark of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.