When I entered the eighth decade of life, I received a humorous birthday card from a friend that read, “If God didn’t want us to have wrinkles... He’d have made us permanent press!”
That comment about wrinkles prompted a memory from a few years back. I was sitting on the carpeted floor of the children’s classroom telling a Bible story to a group of preschoolers. A small girl crawled up close, pointed to my wrinkled hands, and said, “You’re old!” Smiling, I acknowledged that, yes, I was old. With 10 grandchildren of my own, I understood that children will say anything. The child then continued: “And when you get very old, you’ll die!!”
My sister-in-law’s mother, Oleane Mulkey, turned 108 in June 2017. Before her death on September 27, she was said to be the second oldest person in Oklahoma. Oleane was the mother of 12 children, nine of whom are still living. She credited her long life to the habit of cooking three meals a day, taking an afternoon nap, refraining from smoking and drinking, and having a daily conversation with the Lord. Her daughter says she thinks her mother lived so long because she wanted to live. She wanted to keep up with all the relatives and looked forward to her next birthday.
In his book, Nearing Home, written at age 92, Billy Graham reminds us that God has put in each one of us a will to live. The Bible says that God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Rev. Graham wrote that he knew it wouldn’t be long before God called him home to heaven. Yet, on November 7, 2017, Billy Graham reached his 99th year of life, still fulfilling God’s purpose and sustained by God’s strength.
Rev. Graham reminds us that, regardless of age, we can impact those around us. We must look for the Lord’s purpose in every circumstance, every face, and every voice we encounter every day, because every day is a gift from God to use for His glory. The Bible tells us that our days on this earth are numbered. Our life may be short or long, but if we align ourselves with God’s purposes, we discover His strength for every day.
Oleane Mulkey and Billy Graham are examples of the biblical truth about age: “They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:14–15, NKJV).