Anne Graham Lotz on the Journey of Faith
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, talked with Beliefnet about her new book, "The Magnificent Obsession." She described why she chose Abraham as a model of faith in this book, and also talked about her father's legacy and why religion can be an impediment to a relationship with God.
BY: Interview by Ansley Roan
Q: So, out of all the people in the Bible, why did you focus on Abraham?
Because he meant so much to me. Thirty-three years ago when I first taught Genesis, he just walked off the pages of the Bible and into my life. I loved him because I thought he was so ordinary. We think of these biblical characters as bigger than life. But they're not.
I think he must have had a yearning in his heart for something more real than the rocks and the wooden things they'd been worshipping.
And God leaned out of heaven and said, "Abraham, you know, if you'll follow me, I'll bless you." And Abraham packed up and left and did that.
He had a relationship with God, that God defined as a friendship. Three times in the scripture God says, "Abraham is my friend." I thought, "That's what I want."
So I set that as my life's goal. I can be rich or poor, well or sick, popular or despised, alone or in a crowd, and that goal transcends everything.
It gives my life purpose and meaning. In fact, I look back and I think that it's been during the hard times that I've learned about Him the most. I can see God's faithfulness and his goodness and his mercy.
When the storms of life come, if they come to me personally, to my family or to the world, I want to be strong enough to stand and be a strength to somebody else, be shelter for somebody else.
That means right now I have to build a relationship with God. I can't wait 'til the storms hit. I need to do that now.
Because knowing God in a personal relationship that he would describe as a friendship is a foundation on which to build your life that will carry you through whatever is coming.
Q: I think it's a real struggle right now for some people of people of faith, who are praying and trying to do the right thing and who feel like they're still suffering. I think some still feel- "Where's God?"
One misconception is that if we follow God in the life of faith and that means obedience -- that we read His Word, we're obedient, we pray, we go to church, we do the right things -- that somehow His blessing means we're going to be okay.
When we're not, then we think, well, "He doesn't love me," or "I've done something wrong." We have to change our mindsets. Sometimes God doesn't give us what we want when we want it, the way we want it. He's not like a genie in a bottle that you rub by faith and He pops out and He does what you want. He's much greater than that.
Problems are part of human life, but He promises that, in the middle of all that, He will be with us. I have people say, "Anne, I don't feel His presence." Well, if you could feel it, it wouldn't be faith.
There are times when I felt abandoned. I had no feeling of His presence. But, I read my Bible, and it says--Hebrews 13, "I will never leave you, never forsake you." So my faith has to go down to His words... It's the voice of God coming through scripture. That's the basis of your faith, not your feelings, not your circumstances.
Abraham wasn't perfect. He failed, made mistakes. But, he would go back, get right with God, and then just keep moving forward. He didn't quit when things got hard. He just kept on going. And everywhere he went, God was there. God was with him.
We need to keep our eye, if we can, on the big picture. He's a God for here and now, and He can walk with you through whatever you're going through. He promises it in Psalm 23. "You walk through the valley of the shadow. I'll be there."
The Magnificent Obsession