Below is a transcript from a Georgene Rice KPDO FM interview with Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, and the author of “The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life”.
Georgene: When most people hear the word “obsession”, they immediately believe that connotes something that ought to be avoided, yet you found an obsession that is not only harmless, but beneficial. Talk about the choice of words “Magnificent Obsession”.
Graham Lotz: I think that best describes my passionate desire to know God better today than I did yesterday and better tomorrow than I do today. It’s a journey. It requires choice by choice by choice, day by day by day. I’m very intentional in how I spend my time and set my priorities—very much like Abraham, and I believe it was his “magnificent obsession”. At the end of his life, three times in the scriptures, God referred to Abraham as “my friend”…… Thirty-three years ago I was studying his life, and that struck me, and I thought that’s what I want. I want that to be my life goal……
Georgene: Some might assume that you’re the daughter of Billy Graham; therefore, you’re exceptional, and you really are living out the legacy of your wonderful parents. But you make it very clear in the book that you’re not the grandchild in terms of your faith. That you had to come saving faith of your own and that you were influenced more by Abraham’s testimony than in many ways your own parents’.
Graham Lotz: I thank God for the heritage he has given me. I love my parents and the family I was born into. But you’re right, God doesn’t have any grandchildren. I was a young girl of about eight or nine. It was on Good Friday and I was watching a film about the life of Jesus. I felt that as a result of the crucifixion scene, I was convicted of my sin. I told God I was sorry and asked him to forgive me. I believe Jesus died on the cross to take away my sin, and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I believe when I was a young girl, I was born again into God’s family. That was just the beginning.
I think a lot of people have that experience. They know they’re going to heaven when they die. They do a few good things. They go to church. And they think that’s what being a Christian is all about. But later in my young adult life, I felt very dissatisfied with that: I knew I was saved; I knew my sins had been forgiven; I knew I would go to heaven, but I was yearning for something more. And that’s when I bumped into Abraham and discovered that the more I believe in a personal intimate relationship with God—where I know what’s on his mind, in his heart—he can give me his burden, he can lead me and use me. I’m just available for him. And Abraham knew God in a relationship that was worked out on the anvil of his experience over a lifetime. It’s not something you achieve quickly. It’s something that’s wonderful. Abraham wasn’t perfect, and I guess that’s one reason I identify with him. We all fail. We all make mistakes……Abraham teaches us that failure is not final—that God is a wonderful God of second chances.
Georgene: One of my favorite paragraphs in your book is…… “I have noticed within the Evangelical church an attitude I have heard best-selling author Dr. Henry Blackaby describe as ‘evangelical idolatry’….Christians who worship and serve a god they have made up: A god who meets their needs; A god who serves them; A god who is convenient and comfortable; A god they can market and promote and politicize for their own agendas……A god who bears no real resemblance to the creator of the universe—the God of Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ, the God of religion. You write about the fact that it’s quite easy for us to have something less than the kind of experience God calls us to, and we have a choice to make about the life of faith that we walk.
Graham Lotz: Do you really want to know God in an authentic relationship, or is he just sort of a holy hobby? You go to church on Sunday, or you go to a few bible studies, and you call yourself a Christian. But are you satisfied, or do you really want to know him in an authentic relationship?……..
Georgene: What do you say to the listener whose Christian walk has been less than satisfying? Perhaps their experience in church has been disappointing, and that fire seems to have been extinguished. They still believe in God, and they still want to walk with God, but they don’t have the kind of passion—that “magnificent obsession” that you’re describing. Where do they begin to rekindle that desire to know God in the way that you’ve described and to experience that kind of intimacy?
Graham Lotz: I think the first thing they should do is get down on their knees and tell God. Just tell him what’s in their heart. Tell him they’re not satisfied with their Christian life as they’ve experienced it. And I think they should open their Bible and read and ask God to speak to them through the scriptures….
Georgene: When we talk about being men and women of faith, we tend to think, “Yes, I believe in God”, and that is sufficient explanation of how we relate to him. Abraham had a deep and profound faith that led him to literally give up everything—to go where God sent him—despite the fact that he had very little understanding of where he was going and specifically for what purpose—what he would find there. Talk about what it means to be a man or woman of faith in the same way Abraham was.
Graham Lotz: One of the special things about Abraham was that he was a man in transition. I think of people today who have lost their job or their career or their home, One of the many things that Abraham discovered is that wherever he went, God was there—that you can’t out-move God. He’s present in our lives no matter where we are. Sometimes he let’s us go through hard things, but the Bible says he will be with us in the midst of that. And Abraham discovered that God was with him in every situation in his life. So it’s a wonderful security and comfort…
Georgene: You write, “Do you wonder if your relationship is just an official arrangement between savior and sinner, or is it really a personal love relationship? Does Jesus really want to see you? Will you be what he is looking for? Will you be pleasing to him? When the moment comes for you to see him face to face, will you want to hide or to cover yourself?” I think many of us imagine that God has obligated himself because of his son, but he really doesn’t like me very much—that his heart really isn’t for me…
Graham Lotz: In the last chapter of the book, I describe how Abraham sends his servant out to look for a bride for his son Isaac. The servant finds just the perfect person. It’s a beautiful allegory of God the Father sending out the Holy Spirit to search for a bride for his son. It is so personal and so precious—very romantic and very moving—and it opens up your eyes and your heart to the love that God the Father has for you…God loves you so much…he wants you to be the bride of his son. It’s a personal invitation to come into that relationship with himself…It carries with it so many treasures of heaven—so many blessings. It’s kind of the punch line of the book: that we ourselves are God’s “magnificent obsession”.
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