King Solomon made an interesting observation in the book of Ecclesiastes: "God has put eternity in our hearts" (3:11). What this means is that though we're mortal, we have a longing to live. Accordingly, we take care of ourselves, listen to our doctors and turn aside from "death-defying" acts that would jeopardize our potential to live long lives.
And we long to stay young. "USA Today" commissioned a poll asking what age women would select if they could remain one age throughout life. Most respondents selected the decade of the 20s: 21-30, but the second most-selected era was the 30s: 31-40.
I agree with the ladies! It would be great to be stuck in one's 20s or 30s forever. Alas, it's not going to happen. Death stalks us.
The apostle Paul used an interesting analogy in 2 Corinthians 5 when he suggested our bodies are "tents that fade away." A tent isn't something we choose to live in forever; it's a temporary dwelling. And our bodies are temporary. We're subject to viruses, infections, diseases, aging and death.
The claim of the Christian gospel is intervention. God intervened in our world and sent his son. Jesus traveled from the crib to the cross to die for our sin. As Isaiah wrote, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (53:6). Jesus' death pays our sin debt and makes possible the promise of heaven.
Ray Hildebrand, a student at Howard Payne University in Texas in the early '60s, wrote a love song and performed it on a local radio station. He later recorded his song, "Hey, Paula.” It became the number one song in America, Europe and Japan. Hildebrand and his duet partner, Jill, became "Paul and Paula" and traveled throughout the nation entertaining their audiences.
Hildebrand began working for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 1967 and became one of the earliest contemporary Christian artists. Christians know him best for a song he wrote and recorded in the '70s: "Anybody Here Wanna' Live Forever." The chorus is: "Anybody here wanna' live forever, say I do / Anybody here wanna' walk on golden streets, say I do / Anybody here sick and tired of livin' like you do / Anybody here wanna' home with love forever, say I do."
Hildebrand's song has it right. God offers eternal life to us mortals through the saving power of the cross. But it requires something from us. Just as a man and woman commit to one another in marriage with "I do," so we must commit our lives to God in humble submission.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.