From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Dear Dr. Graham:
Our adult children stay perturbed because we talk about our declining years. We don’t believe our children understand the frailties of aging. Are we wrong to be weary of this stage in life?
Dear A.P.: Dr. E. Stanley Jones, born in Maryland, made a profound impact on all those around him because of his extraordinary faith and service to others, particularly the people of India where he ministered. Though a stroke disabled him at age 87 and impaired his speech, he addressed a world congress in Jerusalem from his wheelchair shortly before he died in his beloved India.
He spoke of the night-blooming cereus (a flowering cacti) that brings beauty to the desert when it opens up at nightfall. Some say these plants produce fruit large enough for people to consume. Dr. Jones certainly knew something about blossoming at dusk and producing fruits of joy.
It’s important for the elderly to keep learning, reading and listening to the stories of others’ hardships and triumphs. The aged have the richness of experience to pass on to replenish others. While the aches and pains of aging can be wearisome, older people can strive to be encouragers rather than complainers, constantly rehearsing negative circumstances that drain others who look forward to living full lives.
The elderly can taint the purpose God has for them: to impact the younger generations by exemplifying reliance on Him. While the golden years are not so golden, it’s possible to make a mark on those younger by following the good words of the Apostle Paul as he spoke to many younger than him: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). This is blooming in the nighttime of life to the glory of God.