O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalms 71:17-18)
I came across this verse twice while reading the other day, and it really struck me.
How many generations of people have tried so hard to cheat death? Seeking the fountain of youth is the stuff of legends and lore. I remember a few years back when baseball great Ted Williams was frozen after he died. Don't eat this, don't drink that. All designed to cheat death as long as possible. Death holds such fear for so many because the fear they finality of it, the perceived annihilation of it is terrifying when you don’t know Christ.
That fear should not be part of our worldview as Christians. I do not seek long life because I fear death. Hmm, let me see. Go through life getting older and more frail, being tired, aches and pains, all that goes with getting older. Or passing from this mortal realm and being in the presence of my Lord. I know which one I choose: Take me home right now!
God gave human life boundaries in a post-fall Genesis 3 world. By the fall of Adam, all men are going to experience physical death (Romans 5:12-14). But Christians know that physical death is not the end, it is not final. We all will be resurrected to stand one day, some with nothing but their own failed works to answer for their sins and others with nothing but the sufficient blood of Christ. But all will rise again, some to judgment and some to eternal life. That is set in stone, the day and the time, and nothing can change that fact.
Our focus on this earth should not be on prolonging our life as long as we can. I can guarantee you this: not one of us will live one day longer than God has ordained, nor one day less. Proper diet, exercise, vitamins all may make us more healthy in this life and make us feel better physically but all the sit ups and salads in the world will not add one day to our lives. Exercise is good (so I hear). Proper diet is good (again, this is hearsay for me). Do it to make this life a little better, but never assume you are thwarting death. Our preoccupation should be on the Gospel. That should be what we fill our lives up, what should concern us. Gratitude for the grace of God should keep us awake with joy, not quivering in fear of death.
Our desire for long life should be on how God will make use of us in that time. I will be 37 on Saturday, and I cannot tell you how wonderful the thought of passing on the fear and admonition of the Lord to my children and grandchildren is to me. I have for too long not appreciated the gravity of the responsibility that God has placed on my wife and I, nor on the incredible blessing we have been granted in having these eight young children in our homes. I have been lax in the God-ordained rearing of my children properly, but we are taking steps to rectify that and place God and His Word in greater prominence in our home. Each day I am left on this earth is a day given me by God to proclaim His Word.
I welcome death with the assurance of one saved by grace, confident that I will be with Him and that if I should pass from this life before then He will be faithful and merciful as He sees fit to my family in my absence. But in the meantime, I desire to spend my life until my dying day not groaning about the gray hair or the bad back but instead in telling the wonderful news of Christ to my children and my grandchildren, perhaps even my great-grandchildren. That is longevity worth seeking.