Wednesday, June 1, 2016


LONGEVITY is not an achievement for which anyone should pride himself. It is a cherished GIFT given and a favor granted by our generous God who determines the measure of our years. It is a season of indeterminate length and a privileged time.

The anticipated number of our years varies with centuries past and with cultures, geographic locations, heredity, and many other factors. The biblical Methuselah lived 969 years. In the dentist's waiting room recently I picked up a magazine with an article about a woman in Italy who is now the oldest in the known world at 110. No one today is pushing one thousand, although longevity to a greater or lesser degree is still alive and well these days.

Longevity is defined as great duration of life span but not a specific number of years on the calendar. In real time, age it is irrelevant to longevity, although brevity of life is its opposite. Whatever one's age in earth-time, it is the last stage of our lives individually, notwithstanding its duration. At some point, even longevity terminates. It's not really the last stage of life, however. Eternal life for the soul comes after either longevity or brevity on Planet Earth. A person may be experiencing longevity in one's fifties, or sixties, or seventies, or eighties.

In my human family tree I am heir mostly to brevity of life. My paternal grandfather in Europe died at 41, my father at 59, my maternal grandfather at 39, my maternal grandmother at 58. When I went through lung cancer surgery at age 65, my surgeon told me afterward that there was nothing I could do or he could do to assure me that I would survive even to an optimistic five year goal. He said that it was entirely in the hands of God and His plan for my life. I'm embarking on my 91st year. I think that I qualify to have reached longevity by the loving generosity and plan of God--and I'm thankful.

I've already become what I've been becoming throughout my lifetime—unless I blow it. I now have a frame around my life picture that is pretty well permanent. But I dare not say “I've been there and done it all” although my life has been full to overflowing with God's goodness and mercy and opportunities to serve Him. The Lord is always coming up with more blessings and surprises even at this late season of my life. That keeps life exciting and I press forward.

Looking ahead, there is really a next stage beyond longevity, but I won't experience it on earth. Like the count down we used to shout at play when we were children: “One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go!” longevity is a “time to get ready.” I'm preparing to live forever—but not here. “And four to go!” There will be a Birthday Party at the end of longevity that will launch me into a new welcoming environment of love and peace in Heaven. How do I know this for sure? My lifetime faith in God and the promises of His Son Jesus will carry me through that door to immortal reality where faith will become sight at last and where I will know as I am known. That will not be a season that will pass, but an Eternal Dimension without end.

Meanwhile “back at the ranch,” as they say, longevity carries with it a responsibility to continue to be a fruitful and faithful steward of my length of days. I'm obviously not left here to be good for nothing. Stewardship is no longer tied to doing some specific work  as in previous seasons of my life, but to being. At this stretched-out season of my life called longevity, what I am or who I am is not determined by what I'm able to do. If I'm not able to do anything, or if I find it difficult to do anything, or even if it's unnecessary to do anything, that doesn't mean that I am nothing. I can please God and He smiles on me regardless of my ability or capability to be productive. After all, He created us to have communion with Him and to enjoy Him and allow Him to enjoy us, not primarily to serve Him. We serve Him because we love Him. He created angels not human beings to be His servant-messengers.

Longevity is a time for reflection and gratitude. Not a time to waste on worry or regret but to smile at the future, as was written about the woman in Proverbs 31:25. And in the same verse, “She opens her mouth in wisdom.” (If she can't speak with wisdom, it implies that she should “zip her lips.”) Trusting in the providence of God should bring with it happiness, restfulness, and contentment, if we will receive it and say “Thank You!” to God for the opportunity to have experienced life on earth. Yes, we should confess that we have come up short. Nevertheless, we leave those regrets beneath the cross of Jesus with gratitude for His mercy and forgiveness.

Of course there is struggle during longevity with the growing weakness and disorder of our “earth suit” bodies and health issues. Therefore, we must lean all the harder on the strong arm of our Mighty Heavenly Father who knows our frame, recognizes our human frailty, and gently embraces us in His love. It is also a time for detachment, when we loosen the bonds that have held us to things of the earth. 

There is both joy and sadness in longevity. Certainly joy that God has “crowned us with loving-kindness and tender mercies”; joy that we have lived to see new generations birthed on the earth scene; sadness to let go of friends and loved ones and peers when they walk off the stage of life before we do. Then joy again when we are reunited in our Eternal Life after life.

With long life I will satisfy him and let him behold My salvation,” God promises in Psalm 91. To be “satisfied” is the word of contentment for us in our season of longevity. “[The Lord] satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (Psalm 103:5). 


 To the Chinese, eating long noodles is a symbol of longevity

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