Last Tuesday, we drove the steep, winding, leaf-sodden road to the Graham house in Montreat, North Carolina.
I gazed at the landscape, the trees in full fall color, and, in the distance, the mist hanging over the Blue Ridge mountains. This was the view that captured Ruth Bell Graham and held her a willing prisoner to its beauty for so much of her life. While Billy roamed the world preaching the gospel, Ruth supported him by staying here and praying for him while taking care of their children.
It’s ironic that now it is Billy who is at home waiting. Not waiting for her to come home, because she is more at home with the Lord than she ever was in Little Piney Cove. But nevertheless, he is waiting, waiting on the Lord, and looking forward to the time when they will be reunited.
This was my first time visiting this old house since Ruth went home to heaven. I missed the funny doormat that said, “Oh no, not you again!” Though I found the house as lovely as ever, there was something missing in every room. It was her, that certain spark, that twinkle in her eye, the rich knowledge of God’s Word, and, of course, the distilled wisdom, quotes, and fascinating stories that had saturated her mind over the years.
Now it was just the three of us, sitting at the round table in the kitchen over a lunch of barbecued chicken, ribs, cornbread, and baked beans. The world’s great lion-hearted preacher rested gently in his worn leather chair.
“I don’t know who will greet me first when I arrive in heaven,” he said, “Ruth or Jesus.”
Maybe they’ll be there together,” Greg mused.
Though the food was delicious, Billy just nibbled. The lazy susan that supported so many lunches in her kitchen still sits on the table. The sign in old English lettering, proclaiming “Divine service will be conducted here three times daily,” still hangs above her sink. And on the mantel over the huge wood-burning fireplace, the title of Luther’s greatest hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is carved in German.
From her living room, we took long looks over the hills and watched the rain clouds moving closer. No need to fear them, I thought, for when she built her home, she built it to withstand more than a fierce rainstorm.
I want to build my life the way Ruth did hers. She built more than just this house, she built her life on a foundation that stands, a foundation of beauty, truth, and strength. Because it was built on the Rock of the Lord Jesus and his Word, which, though “heaven and earth be moved,” will never be moved.
Here is a poem about fall that I particularly like. Ruth wrote this many years ago, when she was younger and wondering about what old age would be like. From my perspective, she did find she had gathered from her Supply far more than she ever needed. And she lived without regret as her winter came . . .
When my Fall comes
Will I feel
as I feel now,
glutted with happy memories,
to let them lie
stored up against the coming cold?
Squirrels always gather
so I’m told
more than they will ever need;
and so have I.
Will the dry,
bitter smell of Fall,
the glory of the dying leaves,
the last brave rose
against the wall
fill me with quiet ecstasy
as they do now?
Will my thoughts turn
from blackened borders,
to the warm comforts
of hearth fires,
and inner things
and find them nicer yet?
–Ruth Bell Graham