This very day a child is born who will probably live for 150 years or more. Impossible? Not really. Consider that the average human life span at the beginning of the 20th century was 49 years. Back then, people 61 years old would have been considered old codgers, and would have been respected for their age.
At the beginning of the 21st century in the United States, the average human life span is fast approaching eighty years. These days, people in their 80's are fit enough to run marathons. We have an enormous length of time on earth to learn, to grow, to love, to live.
Suppose this newborn child lives to the year 2165, making him or her 150 years old. Is 150 years long enough to learn to love God? Is there ever enough time? Will there ever be? What would this child do with a lifetime that is twice as long as ours? Take more vacations? Spend more time at the office? Get busier? Plant a bigger garden? Plan for a longer retirement? Plant trees instead of gardens? Love more, give more, hope more?
No matter how much time we, humans, have, we remain essentially the same. Morally, we are similar to those born a century ago. Would doubling our current 80 years make that much difference spiritually or ethically, personally, or nationally? Would people choose to love more, to give more? Would we choose to dedicate a larger part of our lives to God?
The real question is, “How well do we live with the time we have?” as individuals and as a nation. We should be concerned for eternal life, rather than mere physical life. We should care more about the state of our souls than the number of our years.
We have been made in God’s image and likeness, and have been adopted as God’s children. However, like all children growing up, we need to learn how to be good children, members of a family, brothers and sisters to one another. It takes time and it takes effort. We need the loving experience of our elders, the straight word and the occasional rebuke.
When we were adopted as God’s children, we were given the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. It is this Spirit that inspires us to say “Our Father.” The same Spirit will teach us how to treat others as brothers and sisters. We are heirs to God’s promises, and we must help one another to live our life as Jesus did.
However long we live, our spiritual goal ought to remain the same – to be the best person we can possibly be. A garden is measured by its produce, not its size. A life is measured by its deeds and its love, not by its length. What good would a vegetable garden be that brought forth no edible fruit? What good would a life of any length be, if it gave forth no love, no delight, no joy?
The measure of a life is found not in quantity, but in quality. We look at the life of Mary, the humble peasant woman from Nazareth who changed the world by her saying “yes” to God. Jesus only lived 33 years and he changed the world.
At the beginning of this new year, we might look at our lives as God sees them. God will not judge us by the length of our years, but by our deeds in the years we have. Our deeds, whether they were the wounds we inflected on others, or spiritual and physical blessings and healing we gave to others in love, are the true measure of lives.
Jesus and Mary gave us a great example of how to use our years. As we go forward into this new year, it is less important to worry about how long we are going to live, as it is how well we are living. Let us use wisely the time that God has given us.
Posted on Fri, January 9, 2015
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd