Life Is Short, Make It Count By Pursuing God And The Adventure He Has Planned For Us

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   8/13/2012

Recently I went to a family reunion where I reunited with my great-aunt Tillie who turned 100 years old this past spring.

I eyeballed her plate, curious about the choice of food for a woman who's lived so well for so long.

What I saw was not what I expected: Aunt Tillie had a round of mashed potatoes, gravy and fried chicken, followed by a sweet dessert. To top it off, an hour later she had a slice of frosted cake with coffee.

Aunt Tillie is in excellent health physically and mentally. She walks with the aid of a walker, converses well, and retains a sharp memory. She lives in an assisted living apartment where someone else prepares her meals, and says she misses her home-cooked favorites of bologna soup, liver with onions and a Dutch favorite: balken brei (pieces of fat, flour and seasonings fried in more fat).

When I had the opportunity, I parked myself in front of my great-aunt and began chatting with her. I found that her life, like her food choice, hadn't necessarily been under a protective shelter.

We talked about the birth of her children, and she shared how most were born at home. One of those arrived without the help of a doctor. Aunt Tillie said that she had just finished helping her husband with chores (they hand-milked cows and sold the milk to provide for the family). Good thing they got the chores done, she said, because after they finished she began labor and had a baby boy, caught by her husband.

I can't imagine milking cows by hand at full-term. To top it off, Aunt Tillie said sometimes they did get kicked by the cows (I imagine not during the pregnancy, however).

Aunt Tillie Didn't Pursue Long Life

I get the picture that Aunt Tillie did not make it her aim to live so many years. And in reality, none of us can decide the number of years we will be on this earth.

However, the pursuit for longevity has emerged into an industry for some. Now, one can hire counselors to advise them on how to live longer or attend "longevity centers" across the nation with offers for greater physical well-being.

While our bodies are a gift from God and we carry the responsibility to care for them, the Bible has a very different message about pursuing long life.

In short, God desires that we pursue Him, not the pleasure of long life. This is part of carrying an eternal perspective. Scripture says that our life on Earth is like a vapor- whether it lasts 20 years or 100 years. Eternity, however, is forever.

So why invest so much effort into the short dash here on Earth when most of our days are lived hereafter?

Longevity may be a resulting blessing of fixing our eyes on Jesus during this life. Such a philosophy should result in more peace, less anxiety, and healthier living habits (one who lives to please Jesus will likely not indulge in unhealthy pleasures that lead to disease or addictions). And, God may send a blessing of many years on this earth in response to obedience to Him.

But in some locations, living to please Jesus may result in a life-threatening chase from bandits or government authorities. Some may be killed in their youth as a result of professing Jesus Christ as Lord.

In short, making longevity the priority during our time on this earth reveals a bit of a missed perspective, like striving after the wind. Why? Because pursuing a long life is pursuing one of God's blessings, but missing the One who blesses. Making longevity our highest pursuit, or our god, is sure to result in unfulfillment, as is anything else that masks itself to be greater than our Creator.

Even Aunt Tillie admits that growing old isn't that great. She's the only one left in her family- her parents, siblings, and their spouses have all passed away. There's nobody left from her generation. Even those she associates with are a decade, at least, younger than her.

And when asked for advice to longer living, she doesn't mention a special diet or habit. She told her local Lyon County Reporter newspaper that the recipe to living a long, full life is this: "'Have trust in God and have faith that He will carry you through. Don't do all the worrying yourself. Hand it over to God. Also, take care of your body.'"

That puts things into perspective. Trust God first. Then take care of your body. That seems to be the order of things in many passages of scripture: Proverbs 3:5-8, Psalm 37:4 and Matthew 6:33.

Trusting our lives in the hands of an all-knowing, all-powerful God is truly the best place to be. As Jesus said to His disciples before sending them out to do ministry, "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will... Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

Perhaps the writer of Ecclesiastes says it best: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."  

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