By Dr. Jim Denison
Lloyd Baker turned 104 on May 13. His friends in Wyoming have postponed his party until the next day because he had to go to work, where he is employed full time as a surveyor. The secret to his long life? He says he hasn't used soap in 50 years. I'm wondering who will be at his party.
By contrast, 104-year-old Elizabeth Sullivan says drinking three cans of Dr. Pepper a day is the secret to her long life. Her doctors have told her she should cut back, "but they die and I don't."
Jeanne Calment held the title of "oldest verified person ever." Before her death in 1997 at the age of 122, she explained her secret: olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin. Christian Mortensen was 115 when he died in 1998. He explained his longevity: "Friends, a good cigar, drinking lots of good water, no alcohol, staying positive and lots of singing will keep you alive for a long time."
Emiliano Mercado del Toro fought in World War 1 and died in 2007 at the age of 115. He credited funche, a dish made of boiled corn, codfish, and milk cream. He ate it every day. Besse Cooper, 116, had the best advice: "Mind your own business and don't eat junk food. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, work hard and love what you do."
We all want to live a long life and leave a legacy. Consider a birthday card making headlines today. What makes it so unique? The father who gave it to his son died in 1999. He battled cancer for a year and a half, and knew he was dying. So he prepared a birthday card for his wife to give their son on his 30th birthday. The son said, "It felt like he was still there, holding something I'd never seen before that he touched, and signed himself."
Is there something in you that wants to be remembered, to leave something of yourself to those who come after you? When my wife and I visited Monticello last week, we were struck by Thomas Jefferson's attention to the mansion's detail. Not just for himself, but for those who would follow. He wanted to leave a legacy for generations to come. So do we all.
Justin Martyr, a second-century theologian, taught that the "seminal logos"—"seeds of God's word"—are planted in every soul. I agree. One such "seed" is our desire to live forever, in heaven and through our legacy on earth. But there's only one way to do both.
There are not "many roads up the same mountain," no matter what people say. Only one Savior died for our sins, purchased our salvation, and guaranteed eternal life to all who make him their Master. Only one Lord can make today significant forever. Only one King is worthy of our worship and service.
St. Augustine warned: "A man may lose the good things of this life against his will; but if he loses the eternal blessings, he does so with his own consent." C. S. Lewis observed: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
Do you agree? •
May 15, 2015. Jim Denison is President of Denison Forum