TONY ELDER: Growing old can be comforting because we are closer to an eternity with God

As I was recently returning from a meeting in middle Tennessee, I came upon a familiar stretch of interstate. It's a beautiful few miles of road that includes traveling over part of Nickajack Lake, maneuvering between high walls of rock, and going under a large railroad trestle. Some of you who have occasionally traveled that route can probably picture the exact spot to which I'm referring.

That area often brings back memories of my trips home from college many, many years ago. I was attending a school which was some 900 miles away from my family and friends in Georgia. Due to the distance, I was only able to make that long drive home once or twice during the school year.

As I did, there was always something about that scenic stretch of road north of Chattanooga that stood out to me. Whenever I arrived there I got a sudden warm feeling that I was almost home.

I knew in my mind that I still had a couple of hours of driving to endure. But the sight of that particular scenery would brighten my tired eyes, invigorate my weary body, and encourage my spirit with the idea that I was getting close to my desired destination.

As we take our journey through life and get older, there will be some indications that we are much closer to the end of our long trip than we are to the beginning. The top of our heads begin to look more like snow-capped mountains unless we make an effort to hide that natural transformation. Or for others of us it might be better described as the forest not being as thick as it used to be.

We often find new roads of wrinkles being cut into the formerly smooth landscape of our skin.

Younger drivers, some of whom may be our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, are zooming past us at speeds that make our heads spin. Our vehicles sputter and often need to go into the shop for repairs. Our GPS often forgets where we are and what it is we're supposed to be doing.

Some of our experiences as we near the closing miles of our journey aren't pleasant. But there are others, such as seeing those grandchildren enjoying life, which are as beautiful in our eyes as the scenery in those Tennessee hills.

How do we handle those reminders that we're getting older and that we're nearing the latter stretch of life's journey?

We could get discouraged and let that revelation transform us into the proverbial grouchy old man or woman. Or as those who are putting their faith in Christ, we can recognize the wonderful truth that we're almost home.

We're drawing nearer to time when we will be with our Savior for eternity. It won't be long before we'll be reunited with other beloved believers who have made this journey ahead of us. Soon we won't have to experience the physical hardships of this life, nor the heartaches that come from living in a spiritually-fallen world.

In spite of those indications that we're well along in our journey, we may yet have many miles to go before we arrive. However, we may be increasingly encountering more of the signs that we're getting closer.

Although we'll be tempted to do otherwise, let's allow those landmarks to encourage us rather than dishearten us. Let their reminder put a twinkle in your eye and fresh energy in your soul.

Our earthly journey may be drawing nearer to its end, but followers of Christ can rejoice in the truth that we're almost home.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.