Life-Defining Choices and Living for an Audience of One

Anne Graham Lotz was a recent guest on Hank Unplugged. Her father Billy Graham called her the best preacher in the family, and the New York Times labeled her as one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. Hank and Anne had a conversation about The Daniel Key: 20 Choices That Make All the Difference. They discussed what we can learn from Daniel and the living Word of God. Here is a snapshot of their discussion on making life-defining choices and living our lives for an audience of one.

Hank Hanegraaff: It is the choices that one makes early on in life that make all the difference in the world. I mean, you made some choices when you were eight or nine years of age. You chose to read the Bible. You chose to be outspoken to use the talents that God has given you for His glory.

Anne Graham Lotz: Yes, I did. The first choice that was life defining was when I was eight or nine. I had been watching a film about Jesus on television; it came to the scene of the cross, and I knew that He had died for me and that had to be a work of the Holy Spirit. I got down on my knees, and I told God I was sorry. I knew it was my sin that was responsible for the death of His Son. I asked Him to forgive me and come into my heart. I claimed Jesus as my Savior. I can remember when I got up off my knees, I felt lighter. I did not even know I had been carrying a burden, but whatever it was, it was gone. I remember going down the steps to tell my mother the decision I had made, and that was a very critical choice that I made at a young age.

Then it followed, I do not remember it so much as a choice as just a deep desire to read God’s Word. By the time I was nine, I had read the Bible through, and I loved it. It began a life-long love affair with the Scriptures. I love God’s Word. That is a choice that I made, but it was a choice that flowed out of passion. It was a heartfelt choice.

When I was sixteen, I made the choice — and I cannot remember anything triggering this — it just occurred to me that when I stood before God, I would give an account to Him for my life, and the way I had lived it. I think up until then, I thought I was Billy Graham’s daughter, and Ruth Graham’s daughter, and you know I would get credit for what they had done. I realized that I would stand alone before God, and I could not ride upon anybody’s coattails. I remember kneeling down in that same room where I had given my life to Christ years earlier, and just surrendered my life to the Lord for service. I just told Him that He could have my life, and I wanted Him to use me so that when I stood before Him, I would have something to show for my life.

It was interesting that within that year, I led four of my friends to Christ. I met my husband not too long after that, married at a young age. At the time, I would think God had not really heard my prayer, but looking back, I can see how He withheld certain things from me in order to rivet my attention on Him and to prepare me to serve Him in really a remarkable way. It has been a lifelong service. He took me up on my surrender. There was not anything dramatic at that moment, it was a decision that I made, which let Him have my life and to use me for His glory. Now at my age, looking back, I can see the pattern that He has led me all the way.

Hank: You know, one of the things that I really liked about your books, and I love about you in general, is that you are transparent. You mentioned your late husband, the caregiving that you were involved in for so many years. The mental deterioration. The emotional pain. You share this, and I love that because for a lot of people they look at Christian leaders and think somehow or another they are walking on air. They do not have any problems. They do not live in the real world. But, when you transparently share what happened in your own life, particularly with your husband, it allows you to relate to people in a way that if you kept this to yourself you could not.

Anne: Well, you know, this is another choice I made. When I was seventeen years of age, I had people trying to force me into their mold. You know, everybody had an idea of what Billy Graham’s daughter ought to be like, look like, people who should be my friends, and I felt very bound by the opinions of other people. Somebody told me, “Anne, your looking at God, your relationship with God is colored, like looking though a prism. You know it is colored by all these people’s opinions, and you need to just look at Him directly.” I made the decision when I was seventeen to live my life to please God. I knew that if I pleased God, my parents and grandparents would be pleased. Some people would not understand the choices that I made, and what I did, but you cannot please everyone anyway. I made the choice when I was seventeen to live my life for an audience of one.

It was a life decision that has borne lots of fruit. I have been in some places, and on some platforms, where if you really just cared about the opinions of other people, and you cared about being popular, or you just — for me anyway — I would be tied in knots. Certainly, I can get nervous. You know you do when you get on a major platform. But, at the same time, my aim is not to please the audience, my aim is not to be invited back, my aim is to please the Lord, who put me in that place and has given me a message to deliver. That was a very freeing choice that I made.

Hank: It is so important. All too many people today are not giving a message for an audience of one, which is precisely what we have to do. It is not about being politically correct. It is not about being popular. It is not about having a bigger platform. At the end, you are going to account to God for what you did with your life.

Anne: That is right. That is a very solemn thing that stays with me every day. I know that I am going to stand before Him. It is what motivated me to surrender in the first place. At the age of sixteen, I know I am going to stand before Him, I know I am going to give an account for the way I not just lived my life personally but also how I served Him. With all my heart, I want to fulfill the purpose that He has for my life. I know He has a purpose for me. I want to fulfill it. In fact, one of the verses He gave to me is in Philippians 1. After my husband went to heaven, it says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (v. 21 NIV). Then it says, you know, that I am left behind. I am not going to quote it outright, but I have been left here because there is still fruitful labor for me to do (cf. vv. 22–26). I have a strong sense that God has taken my mother, my father, and my husband. In a very real way, I am a widow and I am an orphan. But I have a strong sense of purpose. God has me here for a reason. I want to fulfill that reason, and fulfill the purpose that He has for my life before I see Him face-to-face.

Listen to the full interview here.

Get Ann’s book The Daniel Key: 20 Choices That Make All the Difference.

One Response to Life-Defining Choices and Living for an Audience of One

  1. 1ST says:

    You never know who will be pleased and who will be enraged when you live for an audience of God alone… But it’s still worth it. Every time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *