Senator Lankford Honors Billy Graham on Senate Floor
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WASHINGTON, DC – After today’s Congressional ceremony to honor the late Billy Graham as he lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) spoke in honor of Dr. Graham on the Senate floor. In the speech, Lankford spoke about Graham’s visit to Oklahoma, and the impact Graham had on his life and ministry.
Mr. President, it was an exceptionally moving service in the Rotunda today. For a man to be able to lie in honor in the Rotunda and for the nation to pause for a moment, for the leadership of the House and Senate and both sides of the aisle and the President of the United States to all stop and for a moment look at a wooden casket as simple as it was and remember the legacy of a man who gave his life telling people that Jesus loves you. A remarkable day. It’s not a common day in the United States Senate and the House to be able to break in the middle of the day to go to the Rotunda and just contemplate this simple fact: there is a God that you can know who loves you.
It’s interesting to be able to think back on some of the legacy of Dr. Graham. He’s been to Oklahoma many times. In 2003, I had the opportunity to be the chair for the youth night of that mission. It was a moving night and a lot of people there, as there were in all of his events. That night to the students that were there – and there were thousands and thousands of teenagers there. That night, Dr. Graham unpacked a message about Solomon. A person who had everything.
If you ask most Oklahomans what was the moment they remember most about Dr. Graham coming to Oklahoma they would say it was in 1995 after a federal building was destroyed by a domestic terrorism event. Dr. Graham was there the Sunday after that tragic attack on Oklahoma and on the nation. He gave a message to Oklahoma city, to Oklahomans and the nation. And he laid out a sense of hope. Towards the end of his sermon, he said this. He said this event also reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. It reminds us that we never know when we’re going to be taken. I doubt that even one of those who went to that building to work or to go to the children’s place ever dreamed it was their last day on earth. That’s why we each need to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God. It’s ironic that this terrible event took place three days after the churches of this city were filled with people celebrating Easter. Just one week ago today. And throughout the world the eastern orthodox churches celebrate Easter on this day. As Easter always brings hope to all of us. For the Christian, the cross tells us that God understands our suffering. For he took upon himself at the cross all our sins and all our failures and all of our sufferings. And our Lord on that cross asked the question: why? My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? And he received His answer. He knew to redeem the world, to save you and me from our sins, to give us assurance that if we die, we’re going to heaven. He was saying from the cross, I love you, and I know the heartaches and sorrows and pain that you feel. Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the hope of the empty tomb. It tells us that there is a hope for eternal life, that Christ has conquered death, and it also tells us that God is triumph over evil and death and hell. This is our hope. And it can be your hope as well.
Dr. Graham ended this have conversation by saying my prayer for you today is that you feel the loving arms of God wrapped around you and will know in your heart that he will never forsake you as you trust Him. This is a significant day for Oklahomans, to begin the healing process together. It’s quite remarkable to have America’s pastor laid to rest. Dr. Graham would assure all of us the same hope that he experienced, that he shared with as many people as he possibly could was not unique to North Carolina. It wasn’t unique to his family. It wasn’t even unique to America. But it was God’s great affection for all people, and the offer of that the love that could turn around a heart like his could turn around the heart of a nation, could turn around the heart of all people.
It’s a good day to remember. It’s a rare moment for us to be able to stop and pause the way that we have today. I think it is a significant message that should not be forgotten. With that, Mr. President, I yield back.