Title: Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
Author: Billy Graham
Pages: Hardcover, 180 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson*
Billy Graham‘s most recent work, Nearing Home, is one of those thoughtful, peaceful sorts of books you can either read cover-to-cover, or stroll through at random and still come out ahead either way. It’s like memories of your childhood; you don’t have to bring them up in any certain order to enjoy them.
The focus of the book is on the challenge, and the beauty, of aging well. It deals with recognizing one’s value and responsibilities during a stage in life when it may seem like there’s little left to do, or fewer places where one’s value will be recognized. And it’s as much a pep talk for older readers as it is a guide for younger readers on the importance of respecting their elders for the wisdom and experience they can provide. It reaffirms the importance of standing fast in one’s relationship with God regardless of the inevitable challenges that accompany the changes of time.
Reading his commentary on dealing with the pains of aging and grief (Ch 5: “Fading Strength But Standing Strong”), and on providing wisdom and counsel to younger generations not only through words but through actions (Ch 7: “Influencing the Impressionable”), I was reminded again and again of the Godly examples set for me by my grandparents through their love for the Lord and for their families.
It made me think of my Mimi, in particular, and the way she boldly- daily- lives out a hope shared by Graham that her children and grandchildren will “become men and women of compassion, honesty, morality, responsibility, selflessness, loyalty, discipline, and sacrifice… trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior and seeking to follow Him.” (p. 120) In fact, multiple times throughout the book I heard the words in her voice instead of his. I guess you could say my Mimi served as my litmus test on whether or not what Graham was saying checked out as worthwhile advice. (Way to go, Mim. ;)
A few words of advice Graham shares with his readers on “bridging the gap” (p. 121) between generations hit home for me in terms of my own family because I regularly see them living out this guidance in realistic ways. (Way to go, fam. ;) I’ll share it with you here, and trust you’ll also read beyond the list’s disarming simplicity: Pray Consistently, Keep In Touch, Encourage [Your Family], Remember Your Place, and Be An Example.
There were times I found it difficult to stick with the book, as it speaks to a decidedly older demographic than my own. While I appreciated the sentiments the author shared, it was a bit like reading about dealing with grief when you’ve never lost a loved one, or about bonding with your troubled teen when you’ve never had children. I know there is value in his words, but for now I’m just filing them away in the hope that they spring back to mind about forty years from now.
A good summary of the book appears on page 48: “One day you may not be able to do everything you once did or everything you would like to do. Instead of feeling guilty or frustrated or resentful, however, thank God that you can still do some things- and make it your goal to do them faithfully and do them well. Commit your time- and your whole self- to Jesus Christ, and seek to do His will no matter what comes your way.”
Words to live by.
And it wouldn’t be a Billy Graham book if it didn’t end with an alter call.
“No one ever grows too old to accept Christ’s forgiveness and enter into His glorious presence. When we look back over our experiences along life’s journey, we may have regrets about the choices we made, but remember, that was then… this is now. … “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV).” (p. 180)
While I wouldn’t want to discourage younger readers from attempting to tackle this book- there is a lot in it to appreciate and learn from, and so many insights into perspectives it’s impossible to gain oneself until later in life- it is most definitely geared toward an older crowd. It is to them I would recommend this book. I think anyone dealing with the issues presented in it will find it encouraging, and will find its sentiments expressed in such a humble, straightforward way they will want to pass along to others Graham’s uplifting take on a potentially difficult subject: that of moving closer to our promised time with God, to nearing home.
*I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.