Ruth Bell Graham – Poems

Update: The poem “Home Address” has been added to the comments below.

Update 2: Free commemorative book of Ruth’s poems – click here for more information.

Noel Piper shares the following poems from Ruth Graham over at the Desiring God blog. They are both from Ruth’s book Footprints of a Pilgrim.

The first poem is about choosing to love through the difficult times when Billy would have to leave her and the children to go on the road.

Love
without clinging;
cry
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to the newness of loving
in practical ways:
cleaning
and cooking
and sorting out clothes,
all say, “I love you,”
when lovingly done.

So—
love
without clinging;
cry—
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to the length of his stride,
the song he is singing,
the trail he must ride,
the tensions that make him
the man that he is,
the world he must face,
the life that is his.

So
love
without clinging;
cry—
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to being the heart,
not the forefront of life;
a part of himself,
not the object—
his wife.

So—
love!

The second poem is about losing a loved one and reflects what the Graham family must be experiencing right now with the loss of Ruth.

A house
is not the same
when she who made it home
is gone;
it looks
as it has always
looked
and yet
forlorn.
There is an emptiness
within,
a silence
where her chuckle was.
From now on
it is me alone
who once was “us.”

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71 Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    Ruth Graham wrote a beautiful poem about her own Mother. I have read it often, and would like to share it, as a tribute to Ruth herself.

    As the portrait is unconscious
    of the master artist’s touch,
    unaware of growing beauty,
    unaware of changing much,
    so you have not guessed His working
    in your life throughout each year,
    have not seen the growing beauty
    have not sensed it Mother dear.
    We have seen and marveled greatly
    at the Master Artist’s skill,
    marveled at the lovely picture
    daily growing lovelier still;
    watched His brush strokes
    change each feature
    to a likeness of His face,
    till in you we see the Master,
    feel His presence, glimpse His grace;
    pray the fragrance of His presence
    may through you seem doubly sweet,
    till your years on earth are ended
    and the portrait is complete.

    (Copied from Ruth Bell Graham’s “Collected Poems”)

  2. Brenda says:

    I’d love to have a copy of the poem Ruth wrote at 13 about the man she would someday marry.

    Does anyone have it?

    gbwinter@comcast.net

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Brenda,

    I am not familiar with that one, but I would be interested in reading it. I did some searching for it but could not find anything. Does anyone else know abou this poem or have a copy of it?

  4. eclexia says:

    I believe this is the poem you were requesting.

    Dear God, I prayed, all unafraid
    (as we’re inclined to do),
    I do not need a handsome man
    but let him be like You;
    I do not need one big and strong
    nor yet so very tall,
    nor need he be some genius,
    or wealthy, Lord, at all;
    but let his head be high, dear God,
    and let his eye be clear,
    his shoulders straight, whate’er his state,
    whate’er his earthly sphere;
    and let his face have character,
    a ruggedness of soul,
    and let his whole life show, dear God,
    a singleness of goal;
    then when he comes
    (as he will come)
    with quiet eyes aglow,
    I’ll understand that he’s the man
    I prayed for long ago.

    (From Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems, p. 35)

  5. Ray Fowler says:

    eclexia,

    Thank you so much for posting this. What another fine poem from Ruth’s pen. It is amazing that she was writing this well at just 13 years of age. Brenda, is this the poem you were looking for?

  6. Sharon Gamble says:

    What I find so amazing and lovely is that she truly found the man she asked for at 13! Although, I suspect she had no idea what an adventure she was in for when she married him.

  7. shelly says:

    I was just searching for the poem for her husband! Praise God you had it posted – I wanted it for me and to send to a friend to encourage her. Thanks!

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Shelly,

    I am glad you found it. Thank you, eclexia, once again for posting it.

  9. Leigh says:

    I am looking for another of Mrs. Graham’s poems and can’t seem to find it. I believe TBN ran it as part of a tribute to her; I seem to think it might have been entitled “Twilight” or “Sunset” or something related to that . . . It was about passing on, and ends with the image of dawn (as I recall). Does anyone know the one I mean? And if so, might you excerpt it here? It moved me to tears. Thank you and God Bless!!!

  10. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Leigh,

    I think I found the poem you were looking for. It is on page 131 in the free book of Ruth’s poems I recently received.

    It Won’t Be Long …

    It won’t be long –
    the sun is slowly slipping out of sight;
    lengthening shadows deepen into dusk;
    still winds whisper;
    all is quiet;
    it won’t be long
    – till night.

    It won’t be long –
    the tired eyes close,
    her strength is nearly gone;
    frail hands that ministered to many
    lie quiet, still;
    Light from another world!
    Look up , bereaved!
    It won’t be long
    – till Dawn!

  11. Leigh says:

    Thank you! Yes, this is exactly the one I was referring to. I so appreciate your taking the time to look into it and to excerpt it here! Many, many thanks again! God bless!

  12. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Leigh,

    I am glad that was the right one. It seemed to be from the way you described it. I had in mind to look for it after I received the book of poems, but only just got around to it earlier today.

  13. Jerry says:

    what was the title or could you print the entire poem read by her daughter at the funeral? please email it to me at jerryfbox@comcast.net it is for my mother

  14. Ray Fowler says:

    Jerry,

    I just visited the description of the funeral at http://www.billygraham.org/mediaRelations/pressReleases.asp?pr=208&src=6 and there they say that Ruth’s daughter Virginia “Gigi” read one of the family’s favorite selections from Mrs. Graham’s poetry, appropriate to her death, which begins, “And when I die, I hope my soul ascends slowly, so that I may watch the earth receding out of sight, its vastness growing smaller as I rise, savoring its recession with delight.” I am assuming this is the poem you are looking for. Does anyone here know the title or source of this poem or have a copy of the words?

  15. eclexia says:

    And when I die
    I hope my soul ascends
    slowly, so that I
    may watch the earth receding
    out of sight,
    its vastness growing smaller
    as I rise,
    savoring its recession
    with delight.
    Anticipating joy
    is itself a joy.
    And joy unspeakable
    and full of glory
    needs more
    than “in the twinkling of an eye,”
    more than “in a moment.”

    Lord, who am I to disagree?
    It’s only we
    have much to leave behind;
    so much . . . Before.
    These moments
    of transition
    will, for me, be
    time
    to
    adore.

    (from Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems, p. 162)

  16. Suzy says:

    I am looking for a poem written by Ruth Bell Graham entitled “Home Address”. It was recently featured on a BGEA special. Thanks for your help.

  17. Ray Fowler says:

    Suzy

    I am sorry, but I could not find this one. Does anyone else know where this poem can be found?

  18. Carolyn King says:

    I too am looking for the poem about Christ being our home. Help.
    Carolyn

  19. anna says:

    eclexia, thanks for posting the poem Ruth wrote about the man she wanted to marry someday.. i came across this poem years ago, and when i saw the book Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems yesterday i immediately bought it (but was disappointed that i couldn’t find it in the book).

    thanks loads! =)

  20. eclexia says:

    Anna, I can’t find my copy at the moment to locate the page, but in my book there is an index in the back with the first line of every poem.

    This thread of comments brought to mind a connection for me. We’re doing an Advent study and this week have been focusing on the angel Gabriel and his messages to Zechariah and to Mary. It has really struck me how Mary had found favor with God, and God was going to bless and use her in such an amazing way. Often when we ask God to bless us, we have no concept of what it might cost and how much more than we ever imagined, we are going to have to trust God as a result of the blessing. I think that was true for Mary, and I really think that was true of Ruth Bell Graham as well (as another commenter has mentioned).

    The foundation for trusting God no matter what was already there, and God built on that and tested and grew that trust in Him in their lives, and as a result of their faith and willingness to trust and follow God at any cost, many have been blessed.

    I’m not making an exact analogy, it’s just that I saw that concept illustrated in both of the stories of these women’s lives.

  21. Ray Fowler says:

    Suzy – Is this the special that featured the poem?

    Celebrating Ruth Bell Graham – TV Special

  22. Patte says:

    I’m watching the Ruth Graham special now & I’d like to have that poem My Home Address too. O Lord, send someone who can give us the words!

  23. Ray Fowler says:

    The program is on TV here in Massachusetts tomorrow night. I will try and record it so I can transcribe the words for everyone – unless someone beats me to it, which you are more than welcome to do!

  24. Angie Hurst says:

    I am looking for the words to the poem “Home Address” also. What a beautiful poem by such an incredible lady! Please let me know if you find them.
    Thanks.

  25. Andrea says:

    I taped the special and typed the poem out. Not sure if it is typed correctly, but the words are exactly as they were read on television. This poem is so precious!

    My home address?
    Christ.
    In Him I dwell,
    wherever else I be.

    As Bird in the air,
    as branch in the vine,
    as tree in the soil,
    as fish in the sea.
    He is my home.

    My business address?
    Here.

    Little piney cove,
    or London,
    Corinth,
    Calcutta,
    or Rome,
    Shanghai,
    or Paris.

    My business address?
    Wherever He puts me,
    but He is my home.

  26. Ray Fowler says:

    Andrea – On behalf of the many readers who have written in and asked about this, thank you for taking the time to write this down and post it here. It really is a very nice poem.

  27. Pam says:

    God Bless you for posting Home Address by R.B. Graham. I cannot believe it. I just didn’t want to buy an entire book just to get one poem. I googled the poem and this site came up and sure enough … here it is. Thank you so much. Later. Jesus is Lord! Amen!

  28. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Pam – I am glad you found the poem. God bless, and Merry Christmas!

  29. Doug Dwyer says:

    My wife and I were so moved by the special on Ruth Bell Graham.
    Thank you for posting “Home Address.” I am a pastor and wanted to share it in a message-God bless you!

  30. Ray Fowler says:

    Doug

    You’re welcome – have a great worship service on Sunday!

  31. Deb Waxler (First United Methodist Church) says:

    We are looking for Ruth Graham’s poem “Home Address”. Can you tell me where we can find it…quickly?

  32. Ray Fowler says:

    Deb – Scroll up about seven comments and you will find it there! Was that quick enough? 🙂

  33. I watched the “Special” ABC featured September 10; All about Ruth Bell Graham. It was so wonderful, In my heart, I knew she was a women that truly loved GOD and had a marriage based totally on his principles.

  34. Dr. John F. Sills says:

    9/12/2008

    We too saw the special last evening on Ruth Bell Graham. It was spendid, as moving as any Graham crusade on TV. It should have garnered a good evangelistic response.

    I especially was moved by the poem, “Home Address”. What a firm statement of faith. I had already prepared my Sunday School lesson for this next Sunday. We are just getting into Ephesians. I wanted to emphasize Paul’s observation that the saints AT emphasis were IN Christ (v. 2). My notes indicate we who are in Christ have two addresses, the major one being, “IN Christ”. Well, I have copied Mrs. Graham’s poem to share with the class. What a dramatic point it makes!!

    JFS
    Salem, Oregon

  35. Ray Fowler says:

    Jane – I agree. The Graham’s were a special couple with a special testimony.

    John – That’s awesome you could share the poem with your class. Thanks for sharing here!

  36. Diana says:

    I think there is another poem that Ruth Bell Graham wrote just as she was leaving China to attend Wheaton. It was similar in vein to the one quoted above as a 13 yr old about the kind of man that she wanted to marry, but it had phrases like “shoulders broad enough to carry…” – it’s really a blur. Does anyone know what I’m referring to?

  37. Ray Fowler says:

    Diana – I believe this is what you are looking for. Ruth had just left the missionary field in China. She was on the USS McKinley on her way to Wheaton College when she wrote out what she wanted in a husband, even though she planned at the time to remain single and be a missionary! She was 17 years old.

    “If I marry: He must be so tall that when he is on his knees he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. Love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes in the whole lost world. He must be active enough to save souls. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.”

    She then met Billy at Wheaton, and the rest is history.

  38. Susan says:

    Twenty five years ago I read in someone else’s book a poem by Ruth Graham about loss. I only remember that it ended with the word
    ” It’s just that we are left here still”. Does anyone know it?

  39. Ray Fowler says:

    Susan – Sorry, I don’t know. Does anyone else know this one?

  40. Dana says:

    God,
    what a waste!
    He was so needed
    by us all
    …by You.
    and yet You kill,
    it seems at will,
    Your young,
    Your trained,
    Your highly skilled
    (and not a few)–
    Stephen first
    …then James…
    and…
    O God!
    our Savior, too.
    Did I say
    “waste”?
    Forgive
    the stupid words
    we cry
    in anguished haste.
    The Gardener
    plants
    and reaps
    with skill.

    …it’s only
    that we’re left here
    still.

  41. Dana says:

    That poem is from page 157 of Ruth Bell Graham’s Collected Poems. There are others in the book dealing with losses of various kinds. Her poems were a great comfort and encouragement to me as I walked through an excruciating time in my life.

  42. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks, Dana. Wow – what a poem!

  43. Susan says:

    Thank you so much. Even all these years later I can’t read it all the way through without tears.

  44. Christy says:

    “It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain”
    — Ruth Bell Graham

  45. Ray Fowler says:

    Christy – Great quote! Thanks for sharing!

  46. Carmen says:

    Does anyone have a copy of Ruth Bell Graham’s poem “Only You”?

    Thank you,
    Carmen

  47. Ray Fowler says:

    Carmen – Here it is.

    Only You
    Dusty my soul tonight.
    Earth has been dear.
    Bewildered, I come to You,
    Father God, hear.
    Idols that charm me,
    dreams that allure,
    pains that alarm me,
    suspense to endure,
    memories that linger,
    thoughts that ensnare,
    a heart that is aching,
    all crumpled by care,
    unsatisfied, restless,
    scarce able to pray—
    everything, everything
    take it away.
    Only You,
    none but You,
    Jesus alone:
    ashes the rest to me,
    songs with a groan,
    take them each one away—
    mind not my tears—
    lift me above this earth’s
    joys and its fears,
    give me Yourself alone—
    nothing beside—
    so will I be with You,
    content,
    satisfied!

    (Sections from Ruth Bell Graham’s Poetry)

  48. Sharon Gamble says:

    I had not read that poem before. Beautiful. Ruth Bell Graham always reminds me of what matters. And what does not.

  49. Kim Bryant says:

    Ruth Graham wrote a poem asking God to work in her son’s life. In it was a line about “breaking his hip” in reference to Jacob’s struggle with God. Do you know the name of this poem or have a copy of it?

  50. Ray Fowler says:

    Sorry, Kim, I couldn’t locate this one. Does anyone else know?

  51. Dana says:

    Kim, You prompted me to go back and read some of Ruth’s poems last night, and I think I might have come across the one you were asking about:

    It is a fearful thing to fall
    into Your hand, O living God!
    Yet I must trust him to You,
    praying your staff and rod
    will comfort him in need
    as well as break,
    in love, the wayward leg. And yet I plead,
    “Deal gently with the young man
    for my sake.”

  52. Kim Bryant says:

    Dana,

    Thank you so much for looking. I don’t think this was the specific poem I was remembering…although it’s very good and speaks to the same issue. I could be wrong though, it’s been years since I read the poem in a Bible study and perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me. I’ve been searching through all of my old studies and just can’t find it.

  53. Kim Bryant says:

    I found the poem I was searching for. It was in the Bible study “Falling in Love With Jesus” by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli, and they quoted it from “Experiencing God’s Presence” by Janet Kobobel Grant, who quoted Ruth Bell Graham. Here it is:

    Oh God of Jacob,
    Who knew how to change supplanters then
    Now deal I pray with this my son
    Though he may limp
    When Thou art done.

    Thanks to all who looked for me!

  54. Barbie says:

    I have lost my copy of Mrs. Graham’s poem. I wanted to give my daughter the poem she wrote about what a husband should be. It is not the one she wrote when she was 13. This poem plays on opposites – something like arms strong enough to cuddle a small child, etc.
    Thank you for your help.

  55. Ray Fowler says:

    Barbie – I believe that is the prayer listed in comment #37 in this thread. Here is the link to the comment: Comment #37.

    And I will copy and paste that comment here as well:

    I believe this is what you are looking for. Ruth had just left the missionary field in China. She was on the USS McKinley on her way to Wheaton College when she wrote out what she wanted in a husband, even though she planned at the time to remain single and be a missionary! She was 17 years old.

    “If I marry: He must be so tall that when he is on his knees he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. Love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes in the whole lost world. He must be active enough to save souls. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.”

    She then met Billy at Wheaton, and the rest is history.

  56. Barbie says:

    Thank you so much!! What a blessing to have found this!

  57. Dawn says:

    Ruth wrote a poem, or a prayer that read like poetry, about the responsibilities she observed in her son’s life. The poem was written in an Ideals magazine a number of years ago. I would like to have the words to that poem, now that my own son is grown with a family of his own. I would like to have those words to pray over him. It began with her observations about her son’s boyhood, then ended as a prayer of blessing over the man he had become. I wish I had not parted with that Ideals magazine. I didn’t think about copying the poem before giving it away!

  58. Ray Fowler says:

    Dawn – I think this is it:

    GIVE HIM GRACE
    by Ruth Bell Graham

    May he face life’s problems
    as he faced
    his broken bike
    when he was small,
    working till he’d traced
    each problem to its source,
    and fixed it; all
    was a challenge he’d accept
    with curiosity and then
    work night and day.
    What’s losing sleep when
    interest is involved?
    Hobby or problem
    he never turned it loose
    till it was solved.

    Now
    he’s a man.
    And man-sized problems
    stare him in the face.
    Interested or not,
    Lord,
    give him grace.
    As this is a problem tough,
    and not a toy,
    so, too, he is a man now,
    Lord
    -not a boy.

    (Yet in the boy he once was I could see
    delightful glimpses of the man that he
    would be.)

    From Sitting By My Laughing Fire, p. 104

  59. judi VanderMark says:

    I am trying to find the prayer Ruth Graham prayed asking the Lord to bring into her life a certain type of man to be her husband….it really described Billy Graham. I have read it but cannot recall where. Any ideas? Thanks for your time….

  60. Margaret Brueckner says:

    Years ago I read a poem by Ruth Graham about Christmas. I copied the poem, but can’t find it now. It was in one of her books of poems. I would really appreciate it if someone could send me this poem. I believe she wrote it at the end of a Christmas Day,looking back on all the activities of the day.

  61. Lois Ortiz says:

    I am looking for her poem that said something about should you go and I will stay. Thank you for your help

  62. brenda says:

    Please print poem if i should go

  63. Maata Ngatai says:

    Ruth had a plaque over her kitchen sink which read ? Duties done here daily .
    What was the first word… Well I think it was similar to these words.
    Please help.

  64. Vivian McNair says:

    I have been searching to find Mrs Graham’s poem about.if I should go before you. Help!

  65. Chua MK says:

    Hi Maata Ngatai

    I think that you were searching for this quotation:

    The sign in old English lettering, proclaiming “Divine service will be conducted here three times daily,” still hangs above her sink.

    This sentence was cut from a article ‘the house that Ruth built’ at Virtue for woman website

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ruth Graham Passes Away at Ray Fowler .org
  2. A quote from Billy and a quote from Ruth at Ray Fowler .org
  3. Free Book of Poems Written by Ruth Bell Graham at Ray Fowler .org
  4. Billy Graham - The Song at Ray Fowler .org
  5. The Day I Met Billy Graham at Ray Fowler .org
  6. Celebrating Ruth Bell Graham - TV Special at Ray Fowler .org

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