A Tribute to Bill Bright

Leslie Basham: Do you spend enough time thinking about your eternal home? Here's the late Dr. Bill Bright.

Bill Bright: Surely, all of His mighty power, wisdom and grace has put together something called heaven that is indescribably beautiful and wonderful beyond comprehension.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Thursday, July 24.

Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This past Saturday evening, Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International, moved from his earthly home to his heavenly home. We're preempting the programs we had scheduled to air yesterday and today in order to share with you portions of a conversation that I had with Bill and Vonette in their home several months ago.

At the time, Bill had been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis and was on oxygen to assist him with his breathing. They knew that barring a miracle, Bill didn't have long to live.

If you were with us yesterday on Revive Our Hearts, you heard how Bill faced suffering with joy. During that same conversation, I asked Vonette if she ever struggled to trust God.

Vonette Bright: Some of us have not been blessed with the same kind of faith and walk that Bill has had but he's been so consistent in putting Christ first. And he's had such absolute trust from the very beginning, but God doesn't call everybody to be a Bill Bright. And it's interesting that I've had more of a struggle in my Christian walk than Bill has had.

I'm learning. It's easier for me now, in the senior years of my life, than it was as a younger person and I got there. I came to the place where I committed it all to Christ but I had to examine it a bit. I think sometimes there are those of us who get tired and we have a tendency to give up or we give in to our feelings or the pressures around us. Bill hasn't done that.

Bill Bright: And the reason for me is very simple. God has graciously, and to Him be all the glory, helped me to understand how trustworthy He is. And I could trust Him but I can't trust Bill Bright.

And anyone who thinks, Well, I'll give a little of my life to Christ, maybe 95 percent even; but I need to have some leverage. I need a little maneuverability. I want maybe 5 percent under my control. That person will never experience the intimacy with God that is available to all of us.

Ah, there has to be total, absolute, irrevocable surrender and then the adventure begins because the God who created it all, who holds it all together with the word of His command, a hundred billion or more galaxies, obviously is more trustworthy than we are.

Vonette Bright: Even if we struggle, it's not displeasing God. I think He teaches us in different ways.

Bill Bright: I don't think it's a sin to struggle. But I do think the reason we struggle"¦

Vonette Bright: It isn't necessary.

Bill Bright: "¦is a lack of knowledge of the greatness and the glory and the wonder and the majesty, the sovereignty and mercy of God. If we really understand that we say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

Vonette Bright: God is very patient with us and He brings us along. He loves us and He understands those situations. And if we will just trust Him that"¦knowing that Bill's walk has always been out front of mine"¦but I've known I was going to get there. You know, just hang on, honey, you know?

But there have been times when it's taken me a little while to catch up or to catch on or to think through and I think some of that has been a compliment to him because it's caused him to examine a little more closely his own walk.

He's trusted me a lot but a number of people have said to me through the years, "Vonette, you make Bill Bright believable." Well, because, you know, we're not all there. And they encourage me. Bill encourages me to know what it's really like. It has encouraged me, Well, I'm not really quite so bad after all.

There are others who are a little more hesitant or struggling more like I do. So, the important thing is to let God have His way with each one of our lives, to be all that He wants us to be and He's going to perfect Himself in and through us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Bill, do you think about heaven? Do you think about seeing the Lord?

Bill Bright: Yes, I think it's so awesome! "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered the heart of man what God's prepared for those who love Him" (1Corinthians 2:9).

Now, you think about this. There are so many beautiful places. Right now, I'm looking out over a beautiful lake scene. The trees and the marvelous view and this is one of a zillion, this is one of tens of millions of beautiful spots in the world.

Now, the God who created this universe--and the planet is a little speck of sand in the vastness of all of His creation--surely in all of His mighty power, wisdom and grace has put together something called heaven that is indescribably beautiful and wonderful beyond comprehension.

So, heaven is something all of us should look forward to and as the Scripture reminds us, we should live holy lives in preparation for the day when we shall see Him. So, yes, heaven is very precious to me.

Apart from my reluctance in leaving Vonette and other members of the family and close friends and staff and other loved ones, I would not want to linger here even for a moment.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What do you look forward to most?

Bill Bright: Just being with Jesus. You know, just when you realize who He is. He is God. He is the second person of the Trinity. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. To Him God has given all authority in heaven and earth and the Scripture says that we are complete in Him. He is perfect love, perfect joy, perfect peace.

So when we're in His presence, here on earth and for eternity, there will be joy and rejoicing, love and abundance. And the thought of spending eternity with Him is not just a matter of floating on a fleecy white cloud and strumming a harp, but it's being in the creative situation where, though I don't understand what's going to happen, I'm sure it's going to be another wonderful, far beyond anything that I've ever experienced, way of life.

And apart from my reasons for staying here, as I've mentioned, to help fulfill the Great Commission; complete what He's given me to do, I'm looking forward to the day when I'll bow in His holy, wonderful presence and worship Him there with the multitude of angels.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And that's where Bill Bright is right now, with the Lord in heaven where he'll worship and serve His master forever.

I've had the joy of knowing this extraordinary couple all my life and I'm going to miss Bill Bright. But I rejoice that he is now experiencing the supreme joy for which he's lived and longed, to be in the presence of the Lord.

A few weeks ago, I called Vonette to wish her happy birthday. Bill got on the phone with us and he began to talk about what he was experiencing. He said, "I'm on a joyful journey. It's awesome. I'm looking forward," he said, "to taking my last breath here because my next one will breathe celestial air. It's going to be glory, glory, glory."

Then he said something I especially want to remember. He said, "We need to think more about heaven and hell while we're here on earth. That helps to prepare us for what's ahead."

As part of this special memorial program, we want to offer you a booklet written by Dr. Bright. It's called God: 13 Steps to Discovering His Attributes. This booklet has a short devotional one each of 13 different character qualities of God. As Dr. Bright says in this booklet, "When we truly see God as He really is, our lives will be changed forever."

When you ask for the booklet, we'll also send you a laminated card that includes a list of those 13 attributes, along with the benefit that you can experience as a result of each of those qualities. For example, one of them says, "Because God is all powerful, He can help me with anything."

Here's another one that sounds so simple but it really is profoundly true. "Because God is ever-present, He's always with me." And that's a truth about the character of God that you can count on in every circumstance and situation of your life. Just as Bill and Vonette Bright have.

This little booklet and the laminated card are a simple tool that you can carry around in your purse or your pocket, to be a constant reminder of the character of God and the difference that that can make in your everyday life. I hope you'll call and ask us for one.

Leslie Basham: The booklet and the card are available when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for the booklet on God.

To get more information, you can call us toll free at 1-800-569-5959. Or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Join us tomorrow, as we return to our scheduled series on The Bridegroom. If you'd like to follow along with our program guide, give us a call and sign up for our free newsletter. We'll air a longer segment of Nancy's interview with Bill and Vonette Bright in the future and you can be looking for that.

Now, here's Nancy with a final tribute to Dr. Bright.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some time ago, I discovered a poem by Margaret Clarkson called Valiant for the Truth Goes Home. I think this poem beautifully describes the life and the legacy of Dr. Bill Bright. I actually had the piece framed and gave it to Vonette so that she and her family could share this after Dr. Bright's home going.

Let me read just a portion of this poem and then you can go to our Web site to find the entire poem. Once again, it's called Valiant-For-the Truth Goes Home. And it's based on a little line at the end of Pilgrim's Progress, where it says, "So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side."

The poem says,

"A spirit soars triumphant
across Death's swelling tide,
And the trumpets all are sounding
on the other side.

His marks and scars he carries,
witnesses of work well done;
And the trumpets all are sounding
for his battles won.

And Christ, his Lord and Master,
the One his soul adored,
for whose dear sake he labored,
is now his great Reward;

Forever shall he serve Him,
forever see His face;
And the trumpets all are sounding
the glories of His grace.

The trumpets all are sounding,
with harps' exultant voice,
in heavenly music mingling,
as many waters' noise;

Through toil and tribulation
in triumph has he come,
And the Father's house is ringing
with His welcome Home.

And all the holy angels,
and all the ransomed, sing:
'Oh Grave, where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?'

The Lord of life swings wide
the gates of Paradise again,
and all the trumpets answer
with an infinite 'AMEN.'"

Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

Join the Discussion