In Nearing Home, Billy Graham shares his personal experience of growing older and teaches some important lessons on how to best to use your time here on Earth – at whatever stage of life you happen to find yourself.
In his latest book, Nearing Home, Billy Graham invites readers of all ages to explore the realities of life as we grow older, and discover what it means to grow older with grace and a continuing sense of purpose.
"I never thought I would live to be this old." - Dr Billy Graham.
Practical, purposeful and encouraging
"Bible makes it clear that God has a specific reason for keeping us here."
Dr Graham’s book Nearing Home is the uplifting and practical guide to the purpose of later years that a generation has been waiting for. In this moving and personal account, the great evangelist who changed so many lives continues his revival campaign to the first generation that came to Christ through his simple, powerful message.
In Nearing Home, the world’s best loved travelling pastor and preacher explains the purpose of life in later years and teaches vital, transformational lessons for Christians who might see themselves as left out of Christ’s continuing salvation plan.
How to live a life enriched by years
"Old age does not exempt one from fulfilling one's purpose in life and providing hope to future generations."
For many people unfamiliar with the faith of the world’s best loved evangelist of modern times, the title Nearing Home isn't laden with the foreboding of approaching death, though even that holds no fear for Billy Graham: “All my life, I was taught how to die as a Christian,” he writes. “But no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die.”
Nearing home is not the same as ‘going home’. This isn’t a book about death and the life beyond, it’s about how this senior Christian decided to take the lessons he learned along the Christian way and impart that wisdom to others in the years this side of home.
Nor is writing this book a recent response to any sudden realisation of mounting years. Quite the opposite, writing the book has been on Billy Graham’s mind since his New York City Crusade of 2005. With its long lead-time, Nearing Home contains many personal views of a Christian looking forward, rather than merely of a man looking back.
Positive about living in the present
"When I am old and grey-headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation." - Psalm 71:18 NKJV
There is no false golden glow about Billy Graham, the author is honest and open about the realities of later years. His view of old age includes the realisation that the right time to prepare for one’s senior years is now - regardless of what age you are.
The big idea of the book is that it’s up to everyone – of any age, to make certain they grow old with purpose. Says Franklin Graham, son of the great evangelist: “we live in a society where we discount older people - if you’re retired that means you don’t know much anymore.” He continues, “We’re missing a great reservoir, a great wealth of knowledge that we need to be tapping into and listening to”.
It was this thought, and the words of Psalm 71, that drove Billy Graham to the bold step of reaching out to his grandchildren’s generation by combining the Gospel message with great music to answer their fundamental questions of life.
Living in this world but not bound by it
"Not a fountain of youth, but an oasis for the soul." - Nearing Home
Of course there are still things of this world to consider. Billy Graham takes the opportunity to urge those nearing home to get their affairs in order. This needn’t be a morbid experience, but an act of pastoral care for the material, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those following, but still a distance behind in years.
The Nearing Home book includes practical answers to questions that older people of faith are often afraid to ask. Questions such as: How can I find God’s purpose as I age? How can I cope with my fears, struggles and growing limitations? How do I face the future with hope instead of despair? These questions are faced honestly and directly.
After a lifetime bringing others to find their answer in the Bible, Billy Graham knows precisely where to go for the hope and guidance of later years. Using the examples of the Bible’s faith heroes and heroines, he shows how the apparent limitations and challenges of later years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling.
But he doesn’t offer the Bible as promising an unrealistic ‘fountain of youth’. Instead he talks about how the Bible provides an, ‘Oasis for the soul’. Proving his own words, Dr Graham describes his own physical limitations of failing eyesight through macular degeneration, requiring a team of assistants to help with the writing process.
Life ambitions of the young Mr Graham
"By faith, trusting that He would lead me all the way... He did, He is, and He will."
As a young man, Billy Graham dreamt of a career in major league baseball with all the thrills, fame and material success that comes with celebrity sporting stardom. “I often pictured myself hitting a big-league grand slam,” he says, imaging the crowd roar like thunder as he ran the bases home.
But God had different plans for would-be baseball star, “As I look back,” he writes, “I see how God’s hand guided me. I sense His Spirit with me today, and most comforting is the knowledge that He will not forsake me during this last stretch as I am nearing home.”
In his book, the sportsman turned evangelist says, “My goal was simple: stand at the home plate, with bat in hand, immersed in an important game.” But after giving his heart to the Jesus Christ he laid down his dreams, along with his bat, and fully embraced God’s bigger plan.
“The Lord blessed me with a loyal team of men and women whose hearts are united with mine,” he says. “Instead of bat in hand at the home plate, I had what I now know is a much greater privilege: to stand behind a pulpit, with Bible in hand, immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Filled with hope, looking to complete life well
"This will be a message that is not just informational or educational, but transformational."
Ever the evangelist, Billy Graham still finds every opportunity to share the plan of salvation. In Nearing Home there are words of empowerment and encouragement for the believer. For those of no faith, there is information on how to prepare for those later years, and how to overcome the age gap and be an influence for Christ on the next generation.
Regardless of where you are in your spiritual walk, Nearing Home is a compelling read. For those who aren’t believers but may be seeking, or have an interest in spiritual things, Dr Graham talks about the foundation on which our lives can and should be built.
Franklin Graham, son of the great man believes that his father’s book will interest people of any age and spiritual level: “The things we can learn from this book,” he says, “We’ll be able to use in our own lives.”
On a personal note, Franklin adds, “There are valuable lessons, and I think most people want to make a contribution - especially Christians.” “Daddy, at 93, is still a role model to us kids,” adding, “I’m just thankful and grateful to God that he is still with us and his mind is - he is – as sharp as a tack.”
Dr Billy Graham: author snapshot
Born November 7, 1918, evangelist Billy Graham has preached to more live audiences than anyone else in history (nearly 215 million people) and in more countries (185). Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and online. At the age 15, the young Mr Graham made a personal commitment to Christ and was ordained a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention.
At age 93, Billy Graham and his ministry is known around the globe: from remote African villages to the heart of New York City. He has pastored heads of state and the bushmen of the Australian Outback. His most recent books include Nearing Home (2011) and Storm Warning (2010).
In December 2001 he was made Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), for his international contribution to civic and religious life over 60 years. In June of 2007, Billy Graham lost his wife of nearly 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham. They have 3 daughters, 2 sons, 19 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren. Dr Graham lives the family home in the mountains of North Carolina.
Billy Graham: the not-so-trivial files
Dr Billy Graham is regularly listed in Gallup polls as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World," describing him as the dominant figure in that poll since 1948.
Quick Guide to Billy Graham's Book: Nearing Home
What is it?
- Possibly his most powerful spiritual call of the last decade.
- Insistent that everyone on this side of Heaven has a life to live.
- Forward looking to an effective, purposeful life in later years.
What will it give me?
- Guidance to build stronger foundations and to enjoy the continued gift of years.
- Strength to face life’s transitions including retirement, and when loved ones die.
- Vision to use the gift of years in making wise decisions and to influence others.
- Deeper understanding of our glorious hope in the maturity of this life and beyond.
April 5th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison