Remember the story of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searching for the legendary “Fountain of Youth” in the 1500’s? I heard there’s a rumor going around that he currently resides in St. Augustine, Florida and spends his days watching reruns of “Dora the Explorer.”
Going through my email recently a headline caught my eye. It read, “Harvard Study Shows Unexpected Key to Long Life.” I didn’t take the time to read the article, but I thought everybody knew the secret to a long life: Just avoid dying. (Good luck with that.)
I’ve read a few novels and seen science-fiction films and TV shows about people who somehow achieved immortality. There’s an episode of the old “Twilight Zone” dealing with that theme that I especially enjoyed. What would you do – how would you react – if somehow you stumbled across a Fountain of Youth or ingested some kind of elixir that enabled you to live forever?
I’ve pondered this on occasion. My conclusion is it wouldn’t be all that great a deal. Think about it: All of your family members and friends eventually would pass away, but you’d keep hanging on. In a film I viewed recently, the indestructible lady had to keep inventing new identities to avoid raising suspicions about why she never aged or became ill. Hers had become a lonely existence; after a century or so she became tired of it. She was actually relieved when she became mortal again.
Then again, the Bible clearly and unwaveringly addresses the prospect of not a long life, but a forever life. The best-known verse of all declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
When Jesus Christ said this, He clearly wasn’t offering an assurance of not experiencing physical death. Rather, it was His promise that for those who trust in Him, death is merely a step into what we might term, “the other side of eternity.”
Sometime later, in comforting Martha, whose brother Lazarus had just died, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Then, as if to demonstrate His power over life and death, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead – a foreshadowing of His own resurrection after His crucifixion.
We could cite numerous other passages that offer the same assurance, but here are just two more to consider: In Titus 1:2 the apostle Paul writes about, “a faith and knowledge resting in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” This, Paul made clear, was not a “hope-so” faith, but a confident assurance, an earnest expectation for all who follow Christ.
And another apostle, John, asserts, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God has not life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13).
No doubt, scientists and physicians will continue their search for the keys or secrets to longer life. And that’s not a bad thing. But death for us all is inevitable, even more than taxes. It’s just a matter of when. To date, the mortality rate for humankind – and all living things – has been 100 percent. But by faith in Jesus Christ and His transforming power, we need not dread death. We’re assured that when our days on this earth come to an end, there’s a far more glorious life to come, beyond anything our finite minds can comprehend.
As the two most pivotal days on the Christian calendar approach, Good Friday and Easter, we can rejoice in the promise Jesus gave to His followers: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
For now, we can do as King Solomon admonished in Ecclesiastes 5:18, “I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot.” And then, for everyone who knows and follows Jesus Christ, real life will begin.
* * *
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.