This is Charlie. And let me tell you a story - of how his life was changed forever, because of a guy named Billy.
Charlie is a wise man. A man of few words. Tender-hearted, giving, selfless, humble. Yet, prior to 1984, he was the exact opposite.
He was a prideful man. An alcoholic. Self-centered. Ran as far away from God as he possibly could. Yet, he had a family who loved him anyway - who continuously prayed for his salvation - including his own momma, and his own daughter.
One night, in an intoxicated state, he drove all the way from Del Rio to Houston for work. Normally, he would listen to music as he drove - but during that trip, for some reason, he was drawn to listen to radio sermons instead.
He made it safely - still drunk - yet in a completely different emotional state than ever before. His heart was overwhelmed with confusion, conviction - and no amount of alcohol seemed to drown it.
Exasperated with how he was feeling, he turned on the TV - when suddenly, the powerful voice of a guy named Billy filled the room. And it was as if Billy was talking to no one else - except Charlie.
Billy told Charlie about redemption. He told him about God’s overwhelming forgiveness. He told him that Jesus could take his wasted circumstances - no matter how awful the mistakes, or how grave his family failures have been - and make it all brand new. Charlie listened, glued to the TV, paralyzed.
Then, a girl named Dolly stood up, and started singing a song. A song so anointed, it caused Charlie to feel the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. And with arms raised high, a tear streaked face, and forever-changed heart - Charlie wept as she sang:
“He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive, and I’m forgiven, Heaven’s gates are opened wide!”
From that moment on, Charlie was never the same. He called his whole family, and his daughter - asking for forgiveness, letting them know he gave his life to Jesus. His daughter rejoiced - and every painful memory she had of her Daddy was replaced with a supernatural, unspeakable love. And though Charlie’s momma died years before his salvation, her prayers for her son were not done in vain.
Today, Charlie leads his family through life as the prayer warrior and man of God he was created to be. And even at the mention of the name of Jesus, it brings him to tears.
Friends - Charlie, is my grandfather. His daughter, is my mom. Dolly, is Dolly Parton.
And Billy - was Reverend Billy Graham.
Billy Graham, 11/7/1918-2/21/2018