Nearing Home: Thoughts on Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
by Billy Graham
I never thought I would live to be this old.
All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die. I wish they had because I am an old man now, and believe me, it’s not easy.
Whoever first said it was right: old age is not for sissies. Get any group of older people together, and I can almost guarantee what their favorite topic of conversation will be: their latest aches and pains.
I will soon celebrate my ninety-third birthday, and I know it won’t be long before God calls me home to Heaven. More than ever I look forward to that day – not just because of the wonders I know Heaven holds in store for me and for every believer but because I know that finally all the burdens and sorrows that press down upon me at this stage of my life will be over. During the last year the physical ailments common to old age really have taken their toll on me. I also look forward to that day because I will be reunited with Ruth, my beloved wife and best friend for almost sixty-four years, who went home in 2007 to be with the Lord she loved and served so faithfully. Although I rejoice that her struggles with weakness and pain have all come to an end, I still feel as if a part of me has been ripped out, and I miss her far more than I ever could have imagined.
No, old age is not for sissies.
But that isn’t the whole story, nor did God intend for it to be. While the Bible doesn’t gloss over the products we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth (if we still have any). Nor does it picture us in our latter years as useless and ineffective, condemned to spend our last days in endless boredom or meaningless activity until God finally takes us home.
Instead the Bible says that God has a reason for keeping us here; if He didn’t, he would take us to Heaven far sooner. But what is His purchase for these years, and how can we align our lives with it? How can we not only learn to cope with the fears and struggles and growing limitation we face but also actually grown stronger inwardly in the midst of these difficulties? How can we face the future with hope instead of despair? These are some of the questions I have been forced to deal with as I have grown older; perhaps the same is true of you as well.
This book, however, isn’t written just for old people. It is written for people at every stage in life-even those who never have thought much about growing older. The reason is simple: the best way to meet the challenges of old age is to prepare for them now, before they arrive. I invite you to explore with me not only the realities of life as we grow older but also the hope and fulfillment-and even joy-that can be ours once we learn to look at these years from God’s point of view and discover His strength to sustain us every day.
Someday our life’s journey will be over. In a sense we all are nearing home. As we do so, I pray that you and I may not only learn what it means to grow older but, with God’s help, also learn to grow older with grace and find the guidance needed to finish well.