As many celebrate Valentine’s Day, we remember the love story of Billy and Ruth Graham. They were married 64 years. They weathered life together, woven tightly by the thread of the love of Jesus Christ.
In his book, Just As I Am, Billy Graham shares those special moments when they were first dating.
“Ruth went back to her room (she told me later), got on her knees, and told the Lord that if she could spend the rest of her life serving Him with me, she would consider it the greatest privilege imaginable. So why did she make it so hard for me to get her to say yes out loud?
If I had not been smitten with love at first sight of Ruth Bell, I would certainly have been the exception. Many of the men at Wheaton thought she was stunning. Petite, vivacious, smart, talented, witty, stylish, amiable, and unattached. What more could a fellow ask for?”
But Ruth would reply, “Billy, hold your horses” “I fell so head-over-heels in love with her that Johnny had to caution me. ‘You’re going too fast.’
And there was one minor problem that kept coming up. She wanted me to go with her as a missionary to Tibet…..in that list of good adjectives I just assigned to Ruth, I omitted one: determined.
She felt God had called her to be a missionary to the remote borders of Tibet just as strongly as I felt that He had called me to preach the Gospel.”
But Billy Graham knew for sure that Ruth would get married someday and he knew without a doubt he wanted to marry her. “I did not try to pressure her or persuade her—that is to say not overly much. I let God do my courting for me.”
At one point Billy posed a question to Ruth, “Do you believe that God brought us together?” She thought so, without question. “In that case, God will lead me, and you’ll do the following.”
But Ruth did not say “yes” to Billy’s proposal right away.
Then, while Billy was in Florida preaching, he received a thick letter from Ruth. It was July 6, 1941.
“One of the first sentences made me ecstatic, and I took off running. ‘I’ll marry you,’ she wrote. When I went back to my room, I read that letter over and over until church time. On page after page, Ruth explained how the Lord had worked in her heart and said she felt He wanted her to marry me. That night I got up to the pulpit and preached. When I finished and sat down, the pastor turned to me.
‘Do you know what you just said?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I confessed.
‘I’m not sure the people did either!’
After I went to bed, I switched my little lamp on and off all night, rereading that letter probably another dozen times.”
A little over two years later, on August 13, 1943 Billy and Ruth were husband and wife, graduates of Wheaton College, and lifelong partners in ministry.
Billy and Ruth put God’s call above all else. As Billy traveled as a worldwide evangelist, Ruth had a mission field of her own at home. But they prayed and served together, and their love flourished and endured.