In Pursuit of Immortality

Twenty years after our adventure in agriculture was launched, the original pioneers of our farming ministry don’t move quite as nimbly as we used to.

It is self-evident yet worth noting that the farm work we accomplished easily when we were in our late 30s takes considerably longer in our 60s.

Many mornings as we face the tasks at hand, we kid each other about getting old. We whine, it’s not fair! But of course, it is precisely fair.

Time waits for no one and passes in the same way for everyone who is blessed to see another day. Yet the desire to stay young forever seems to be universal.

Throughout history, we see many examples of this, such as Ponce De Leon’s quest for the fountain of youth or Bram Stoker’s infamous story of Dracula.

Even today, such fanciful notions are popular and gaining credibility as the pace of technological advances accelerates.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in the quest to end all disease, arrest the aging process and find a way to attain immortal life — to defeat death as it were.

An astonishing amount of this investment comes from several technology billionaires who have issued statements saying: “I am not actually planning to die.” “Death makes me angry.” And “Death has never made sense to me.”

Some are funding research into cryogenics — freezing bodies — or new technologies that could allow the transfer of your personality to a robot.

Before we are too quick to condemn such ideas, consider how much of this mindset infects our own thinking.

In contrast to American culture a century ago, being old today is not cool. Wisdom — gained through a lifetime of experience, victories, defeats, struggles and prayerful reflection — has given way to thoughts of retirement living.

The concentration of older folks in senior living communities reflects a societal view that aging and the aged should be out of view before they say or do something embarrassing.

Once considered the norm, most families no longer have grandpa or grandma living out their years with the next generation.

Our “forever young” culture is celebrated by a media platform that hawks plastic surgery, Viagra, air-brushed faces and unnaturally white smiles, and a have-it-your-way approach to all things spiritual.

With such a world view, who — or what — do we put our trust in?

No Ransom Large Enough

In Psalm 49: 7-13, we are reminded who is trustworthy and who is not: “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them — the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough — so that they should live on forever and not see decay. For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others. ... People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.”

As finite creatures, we can’t possibly fully comprehend concepts such as forever and eternity. But Jesus helped us when he appealed to our very human experience of thirst in the familiar account in John 4 of the woman at the well.

In verses 10-15: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? ...’

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

“The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ ”

And then in a breathtaking exchange, Jesus reveals himself to the woman. He is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.

Perhaps the woman was present at the cross or was witness to the resurrected Lord — the only one in the span of all time to defeat death.

And in so doing, Jesus opened the door for each of us to enter eternal life. Hallelujah!

This blog was originally posted on Lancaster Farming.