Nearing Home: Life's Final Destination

Nearing Home: Life's Final Destination

Billy Graham offers Scripture and practical advice to help you age happily.

Billy Graham

How do we overcome the perils that steal our zest for life? Let the promises of God’s Word, the Bible, uphold you every day. Turn constantly to Him in prayer, confident not only that He hears you but that even now Jesus is interceding for you. Focus your thoughts on Christ, and maintain your connection with other believers who can encourage and help you.

The Bible’s words are true: “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

In the weeks before her death my wife, Ruth, repeated these verses over and over to us. Ruth was always thinking of others. This was her secret for getting through so much of life with joy. She never focused on her problems, she turned her attention to Christ, and He always led her to someone who needed a word of encouragement or a listening ear.

A 96-year-old grandmother has “lots of time at home alone,” she says. “I just sit in my chair and go through my prayer list. My goodness, there are so many people to pray for that it seems I run out of time.”

Another lady inching close to 100 looks forward every week to helping deliver Meals on Wheels “to the old people.” She’s focused on people. The Lord blesses people who bless others, and He gives grace to those who focus on the things that please Him.

Life is seldom easy as we grow older, but old age has its special joys—the joy of time with family and friends, the joy of freedom from responsibilities we once had, the joy of savoring the little things we once overlooked. But most of all, as we learn to trust every day into His hands, the golden years can be a time of growing closer to Christ. And that is life’s greatest joy.

True joy is derived from depending on the Lord Jesus. He is the One who supplies our strength in weakness, for when we are weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)  While it is important to put our own house in order, we must not forget to make the things of God the center of our thinking and doing.

This was certainly the state of mind for the Prophet Haggai, who wrote the second shortest book in the Old Testament at the approximate age of 70. Haggai was stirred up by the Lord to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity.

In turn he stirred up God’s people by rebuking them for allowing the house of God to remain in ruins in their homeland. “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little … because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house” (Haggai 1:5-6, 9, NIV).

What stirs me about this two-chapter book is Haggai’s rebuke along with his encouragement. Haggai mobilized God’s people to take care of God’s business and build up His house by giving them hope. “Be strong … for I am with you” (Haggai 2:4).

We may be successful in putting our personal affairs in place, but if we do it at the sacrifice of the more important—putting our spiritual affairs in order—we miss the joy and purpose of life. The Bible says. “A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength” (Proverbs 24:5). Strength is found in the wisdom of God, and that is at our disposal whether young or old.

Are you concerned only about taking care of business in a world that holds you captive? Or are you setting Christ at the center of your life with the assurance that you will abide with Him for eternity—the place where hope becomes reality?

Your strength may fade, but He is the One who will lift you up and help you stand strong in your weakness. When your faith begins to fade, ask the Lord to stir it up by considering all He has done for you, and be strong, for “My Spirit remains among you: do not fear” (Haggai 2:5).

When I was young I could not imagine being old. My mother said, and the doctor confirmed, that I had an unusual amount of energy; and it followed me into young adulthood. When middle age set in, I dealt with physical weariness, but my mind was always in high gear, and it never took long for my physical stamina to return after a grueling schedule. It tires me out to dwell on it now, wondering how I ever kept up with such a jam-packed itinerary. I fought growing old in every way. I faithfully exercised and was careful to pace myself as I began to feel the grasp of Old Man Time. This was not a transition that I welcomed, and I began to dread what I knew would follow.

My wife, Ruth, however, was one of those who could lighten heavy hearts, especially mine. I’ll never forget when she announced what she wanted engraved on her gravestone, and for those who have so respectfully visited her gravesite at the Billy Graham Library, they have noticed that what she planned for was carried out to the letter.

Long before she became bedridden, she was driving along a highway through a construction site. Carefully following the detours and mile-by-mile cautionary signs, she came to the last one that said, “End of Construction. Thank you for your patience.” She arrived home chuckling and telling the family about the posting. “When I die,” she said, “I want that engraved on my stone.”

She was lighthearted but serious about her request. She even wrote it out so that we wouldn’t forget. While we found the humor enlightening, we appreciated the truth she conveyed through those few words. Every human being is under construction from conception to death.

About Billy Graham

©2011 William F. Graham, Jr. Excerpted from Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well , by Billy Graham. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennesee.

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