Franklin Graham on the Emptiness of Running from God

By   •   April 20, 2016

Franklin Graham in leather jacket and baseball cap

Franklin Graham has never been shy about his rebellious past. In fact, he often uses his story in sermons while sharing the Gospel around the world.

“I believed in God. I just didn’t want Jesus running my life. I wanted to run my own life. … But I was miserable,” Franklin Graham shared with a crowd in the Faroe Islands last year.

As a teen, Franklin was sent to an alternative school in New York. He was later kicked out. Smoking, drinking and defying authority soon became his norm.

Franklin Graham in 1972.

“I took pride in my individuality and tried to see how far I could stretch rules before getting reprimanded,” he wrote in his autobiography, . “Instead of getting my esteem from achieving within the system, I got my thrills and identity from challenging the system.”

But living by his own standards proved to be unfulfilling.

“The more I tried to fill my life with things I thought would make me happy, the more empty I felt inside,” Franklin said while preaching the Gospel in Thailand in November 2013.

Despite his father Billy Graham’s dedication to a life of ministry, Franklin knew that wouldn’t get him into heaven. Eventually, he got tired of running from God and at age 22. In Rebel with a Cause, he wrote about the experience that changed his life:

I realized for the first time that sin had control over my life. Franklin Graham was not in charge, but sin was. And there was absolutely nothing I could do in my own power to overcome it.

… I felt I was a Christian. I was the son of Billy Graham, I went to church, and I memorized Scripture. What more did it take?

Suddenly, I had an overpowering conviction that I needed to get my life right with God … I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My years of running and rebellion had ended. … It was finished. The rebel had found the cause.

Is your life right with God? It’s not too late to turn to Christ.


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  1. Deborah says:

    I, as well, ran my life the way I wanted. Now I know the difference and where He brought me from, and I will never go back. I’m happy and content. For without God, I would be nothing.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi. I feel very lonely and would like Jesus to help me.

  3. Rick Griffis says:

    That is a great testimony Mr. Graham! Thank you for being vocal about your past and present! Praise Jesus! I’m praying for you! Thank you for your ministry!

  4. Carol says:

    I became a Christian in March of 1977 and over the next few years the Lord delivered me from many things including smoking and drinking and an addiction to pain meds of 120 mg a day. My husband of 35 years died and I remarried in 2002. Soon after I returned to the smoking habit. Although I believed that this man was saved I have found out that he is not. Recently, I got a larger home so I could take in my Daughter and her 2 children and I got into a lot of debt. Now, I am finding it very difficult to make ends meet and feed everyone on my and my husbands social security. I do not hear the Lord’ voice anymore and I feel like I am drifting away! Please pray for me, Carol

  5. Trisha says:

    Please pray for my 23 year old son. He walked away from his faith Decenber 9, 2012. A day that forever changed me. Pray for the strong hold to be broken and for him to be able to hear the small still voice of the Holy Spirit.

  6. Isabel says:

    Please pray with me for my adult son Anthony, running from God n Richard who doesn’t know God for salvation n daughter who is drifting, I’m am ever greatful as a mother fighting this battle in the Lord, for their souls. Pray in Jesus name

  7. Al j udalve says:

    Let God rules my life.

  8. Joyce Carroll says:


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