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A Living Birthday Letter

A 2000 tribute to Ruth Graham.
2000This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

I told my husband the other day that I didn't want to live to be old. I told him I thought the Lord would honor that prayer, and he said,

"What makes you think he'd make an exception for you?"

Ruth Bell Graham just turned 80 and she prayed the same prayer, more or less, when as a young girl she asked the Lord to let her die a martyr's death, preferably as an old-maid missionary in Tibet. Her life has been a testimony to that unanswered prayer. She never served in Tibet and didn't make it out of college without an engagement ring on her finger. She told me once that God entrusted her

"with the martyrdom of a long life."

Her back hurts a lot these days. That is because she fell several years ago testing a zip line that she and some of her grandchildren had jerry-built. She wanted to make sure it worked before they took their turns. It didn't. She's been feeling it ever since, and now suffers considerably from the pain of more than one hip-replacement surgery.

She probably isn't crawling through second-story windows anymore either, like she did the time she roused out of bed an unruly young Franklin when he thought he had outfoxed her by locking his door.

Her journal entry dated February 14, 1957, reads (in part): Four full-blooded little Grahams … They fight, they yell, they answer back. … [W]hen I [got] up at 6:15 so did Anne and Franklin, and they fought during the time I have with the Lord alone. … Grumbling, interrupting, slurring one another, impudent to me. So now they're off [to school], I'm in bed with my Bible thinking it through.

Whatever her thoughts were that day, she got through it, and the Lord evidently hearkened to her prayers. The "little Grahams" some 40 years thence are "off" again, this time with more sanctified ...

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