I received Billy Graham's recent newsletter (Nov. 2007) today and wrote some reflections on it for our monthly Senior Adult newsletter which I thought I'd share in the form of a post.
In a recent newsletter, Billy Graham was reflecting on his wife Ruth’s passing and his own recent health struggles. He also shared some thoughts about aging, saying that while the process is challenging, many have learned that it can be a wonderful part of life. He goes on to quote Calvin Thielman, a pastor of Graham’s family in Montreat, NC for many years prior to his death, who frequently said, “The longer you live, the more like yourself you become.” I found that statement to be rather intriguing. “The longer you live, the more like yourself you become.” I think that means that over time, the habits that we’ve adopted become established patterns in our lives. Our true selves are revealed as we grow older.
There is a popular saying that bears this out. “As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.” We become who we are down through the years as we repeatedly think similar thoughts and engage in the same or similar actions. The Scriptures also testify to this same truth when it comes to parenting and raising our children. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). That verse offers hope for those who have sought to raise their children to know and love the Lord and live in obedience to Him.
The great hope we have is that God never ceases to actively work in our lives by His Spirit and through His mercy and grace to conform us to the image of His Son. We’re a work in progress that won’t be finished until God calls us home to be with Him or Christ returns. I was amused by Billy Graham’s remarks about the epitaph on Ruth’s tombstone. She had seen a highway sign years before that caught her attention and requested that its message be inscribed on her grave marker. The marker stone for her tomb bears these words: “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.” Indeed, thank the Lord that He is patient with us as He molds and shapes us into the likeness of Christ.