Our men’s breakfast group, which meets every other Tuesday, has just finished reading Billy Graham’s Nearing Home. It’s a good read and I recommend it.
Dr. Graham focuses on the struggles he has had as he has grown older. He is frail, in a wheelchair, and living alone in Montreat, N.C. since his beloved Ruth died in 2007.
He doesn’t pull any punches in describing the difficulties in growing older, including his own. He says, “Like every other stage in life, our latter years will be filled with repeated changes and transitions. The decision to retire... adjusting to a different daily routine... declining health as the years pass... the loss of a spouse… the need to move or downsize... increasing dependence on others – these and other events during our retirement years bring their own difficulties and adjustments.”
People who reach 65 in the U.S. have a life expectancy of another thirteen years. And amazingly, if you reach 80, you can expect to live another ten years. This is silly math I know, but hang with me for a second. It’s 25 years from age 65 to 90, just as it’s 25 years from age 25 to 50. Most of us at age 25 had dreams for our destiny, a career we had mapped out, a family to rear, a purpose and a passion. So many people I talk to at age 65 have nothing more to do than travel, play golf, or play cards. Once upon a time they had a dream for their destiny. Now they are just passing time until the undertaker calls on them.
I’m up at bat on June 21 and I’m going to preach on this subject. I don’t have the sermon written yet but what’s buzzing around my head is how we can continue to be useful and passionate about life when we hit those autumn years. How do we deal with the unwanted changes aging brings upon us? How do we re-kindle those old fires which burned so hotly within us in us when we were 25? How can we make a real contribution with the gifts we still have?
My sermon title is “How Terribly Strange to Be Seventy.” Google it, you will smile at what you find.