I almost didn’t write this blog post, because Anne is a private person and I always want to respect that. But if a blog post will encourage people to pray, I think I should write it—and her family needs our prayers. Anne’s article, “Danny Lotz: God’s Gladiator” was a tribute to her husband, who passed away last week. Danny had been sick for a long time, suffering from the effects of Adult 1 diabetes. Anne had greatly reduced her travel and speaking schedule for many months in order to be with him. They would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary next week, on September 2nd.
I’ve prayed for Anne’s family before. Several years ago when I attended her retreat at The Cove, she teared up and left the room. That was very unusual for Anne and all of us in the room were concerned. Her assistant, Helen, closed the meeting in prayer. The next day we discovered that Anne had learned her son, Jonathan, had been diagnosed with a cancer. She had tried to teach that evening but understandably had struggled. We prayed for Jonathan, he recovered, and is doing well, except that he and his sisters just lost their beloved dad.
Anne’s own father, Dr. Billy Graham, is ninety-six and has his own health issues. Chances are, Anne will face another difficult “good-bye” before long. So, my hero is hurting right now, and I am praying. Anne knows that her husband, a godly man, is well and whole, living in heaven with Jesus. Her dad will rejoice to join her mom in heaven one day, when Jesus comes for him. Anne will serve the Lord with the rest of her life, because that is her joy. She will laugh with her kids, enjoy watching her grandchildren grow up, and maintain her friendships. At the same time, she will miss the family that is in heaven.
A lot of people are watching the news this week, worrying about the stock market. Some people, like Anne, have much more perspective than the rest of us this week. Some things matter so much more than money! Life is a great gift of God, and we are grateful to him for health and happiness. Eternal life is a greater gift of God, but even the strongest of Christians struggle with the idea of having to receive that gift. Heaven is promised, and Jesus said it would be wonderful, but we just don’t know quite enough about it. This life, even in a fallen world, is at least knowable.
Anne is a hero of mine for many reasons. First, she taught me the importance of teaching God’s Word, from God’s Word, using God’s words. In other words, while I enjoy Christian books and read a lot of books about the Bible, I teach the Bible. Anne has always stressed that discipline in the many classes I have taken from her, and I will always be grateful she did.
Second, Anne is a woman in ministry who has worked to fulfill her calling of God, even when some people disagreed. When Anne stepped into a public ministry there were many who felt like she was stepping into places that only men belonged. I’ve often said that some people might say she shouldn’t speak in a church, but I can’t imagine anyone saying she is not gifted and capable to do so. When God anoints and equips someone for a ministry, they are called. Women like Anne helped me to know that I could stand in a room and teach God’s word, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and for his glory. If a man happens to be in that room, I believe the word of God can apply to his life as well.
Finally, I expect Anne will remain a hero of mine as I watch her in the days ahead. I will lose people I love in this lifetime; everyone does. I will pray for Anne, but I will also learn from her as she grieves, as she relies on God’s strength for her grief, and as she continues to serve him with everyday that the Lord gives her. This life is a journey and she walks her path well. I’m grateful to have such a good teacher to learn from.
I hope that you have someone like Anne in your life. We all need mentors to learn from. I would ask you to pray for my mentor today. God redeems our hurts. I will pay attention and learn as God redeems Anne’s grief, rebuilds her life, and inspires more words the rest of us can learn from.