Sunday, October 09, 2011

Billy Graham on Growing Old

Ruth & Billy Graham

Billy Graham is one of my heroes. He is 92, and has dictated a new book, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. The Washington Post has a review. Here are some of the salient points.
  • It's hard being old and approaching death. Graham writes: “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.” 
  • Stay involved.
  • Spend wisely.
  • Prepare a will and medical directives.
  • Focus on the needs of others. Don't get self-absorbed in your own problems.
  • Despire their limitations, one's senior years can be rewarding. Remember how God uses elderly people in the Bible.
  • Get involved in church or other ministries.
  • Help others who are ill or grieving.
  • Build a mature faith through reading the Bible and other books.
  • Never stop praying. Prayer is "the sweetest work of the soul."
  • And, of course, "come to Jesus before it is too late." (If Graham said anything less than this he would not be heroic.)
Graham also reflects on his marriage to his wife Ruth. He writes: “Not a day passes that I don’t imagine her walking through my study door or us sitting together on our porch as we did so often, holding hands as the sun set over the mountaintops... Before long Ruth and I will be reunited in heaven. More than ever, I look forward to that day!”

I'm "only" 62, but am thinking about matters of life and death and family as I'm in Rockford, Illinois (where I grew up) for my niece Joanna's wedding at 3:30 this afternoon. Linda and I went to my parents' graves today, and went to Linda's mother and sister's graces on Friday. I walked and driven past all the homes I lived in as a child and teen. I ate Swedish pancakes with Linda, Dan and Allie this morning, and thought - for a moment - of the many times my mom and dad treated me to these delicacies in this restaurant (the Stockholm Inn).

Keep things in perspective. Perspectival living requires: 1) remembering; and 2) acquiring the Big Picture.