Modern research, technology, therapy and medicine make possible a longer lifespan for people in Western culture than any other generation has ever known.
This provides real benefit in many cases, as both the quantity and quality of our lives are enhanced. A dark side, however, exists in the truth that for many, a longer life simply involves a lingering existence wherein the loss of people, things, mobility and the ability to enjoy makes for a difficult departure from this present world.
Will we ourselves linger? Or will we bid a quick farewell, as determined by God? We do not know. This being true, we must be sure that our convictions about life and living coincide with truth and reality, as declared by the Word of God. What is life? The Bible re-coins the question. "Who is life?" Indeed, life is a person, One Person only. "I am the... life." The Lord Jesus Christ is life (John 14:6). Living is defined in the same terms. "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Thus, our normal definitions of life and living crash on the rocks of Scriptural truth. We should be glad that they do, for the aforementioned reason that we may lose just about everything before the last beat of our heart.
If we live long enough, we will see many, and perhaps most, of those dear to us pass away from us. Things will either be lost, left behind, or drained of their pleasure as our capacity for enjoyment dissolves. Waning mobility means that places will likely become memories to recall rather than venues to appreciate and anticipate. The loss of our goings and our doings will more and more reveal our human limitations as we discover the truth of the Psalmist's plaintive resignation, "Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away" (Psalm 144:4).
Such words would be difficult to write if an answer of life and fulfillment did not exist. It does. Again, Christ is life. To live is Christ. The only thing, the only One we cannot afford to lose, we cannot lose, if we have believed. The possibility of a lingering earthly existence demands that we embrace this, the great reality of our being. Nothing can fulfill us in this or in any moment save the the Lord Jesus. Our hearts exist for His abiding presence to serve as the very Life of our lives. Thus, if we linger, He will be our life, peace, joy, and strength no less in the losses of age than in the liberties of youth. This we must believe, first because it is true, and then, because the glory of God revealed by us hinges upon our faith in Christ as the sole satisfying content of our hearts. Have we built this most important altar within our hearts? If so, do we visit it regularly to remember and affirm the life of Christ as our life? The uncertainties of today, and perhaps of many days to come, demands that we choose to believe our hearts to have been made for One, and for One only.
"O send out Thy light and Thy truth. Let them lead me, let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy."