There was a recent report “Who lives longest” by Kent Sepkowitz in Newsweek magazine April 26 of findings of an unusual research probing 999 consecutive published obituaries between 2009 and 2011 in the New York Times. The aim was to seek insights and patterns related to lifespan, occupation, gender, cause of death etc.
In summary, it discovered famous men and women outlived the normal by about a year – perhaps due to superior medical care. It was more unusual that an occupation in the military indicated the longest average age of 85 … public servants / politicians lived on average to be 82 and professionals and academics died at an average age of 80. The shortest life span at 77 was found with entertainers and athletes. The study showed most famous women in the category of singers, dancers and athletes fared the worst. Indeed the discipline and boring restraint of military life could add value to healthy living. The study is far from perfect ...the Bible has some insights too.
Psa 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. :2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. … Psa 91:15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. :16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
God does not just offer (and He does) length of life but a life also of honor that also satisfies. Satisfaction, quality and peace can count for more than mere length of life. There is instead in the Psalms a secret place emphasized rather than an open choice of a vocation. It would not be secret if others could locate it for you … this place of personal friendship between you and God … where you and God talk and walk together … a place of closeness with God where you sense His presence and protecting shadow. God is waiting for you to discover this regimen.
Still, I find the correlations by the Australian researchers interesting. How is it that those who made a career of lifting others up with passing amusements - possessing near perfect physique and spell-binding talent - ended living shorter lives than the people they charmed? Many of these athletes and idolised performers ultimately resorted to abusive lifestyles that reduced longevity. It surprises me also that the dangers of war and the shock/trauma of being at the center of conflict did not reduce the average life span of military personnel. It was also unexpected to discover that politicians ‘arguably’ committed to community service lived longer than businessmen, professionals and academics.
We can be in the secret place with God in different careers and still enjoy His long satisfying life … also enjoying fame. But even in the secret place with God – I discern that a disciplined rigorous military spiritual life (with fastings often) will keep you around longer to be of greater use in the Kingdom. I suspect a Christian life given selflessly to and involved in evangelistic ministry, community service and nation building will cause an extension in your days than the "narrower" businessman or professional… as perhaps more souls are directly helped (again this is arguable). I agree with A.W. Tozer that our choristers are worshippers and not entertainers but there are increasingly more entertainers on stage and on the pulpits. These days, Sunday Service can be a more theatrical and affordable extravaganza than your expensive Broadway show. Many are thrilled by the presentations … but could it be that - like this study suggested in New York, these leading performers - though almost legendary today - are the most vulnerable in the Kingdom?
The Bible does say we wrestle not against flesh and blood. I encourage all to embrace the tenets of spiritual warfare … and cherish more the building of the inner man – valuing more the unseen victories and interactions between yourself and God in His secret place. And when the applause of men fades as it always will, and the curtains of your fantastic church amphitheater stage are drawn … and the spot lights and amplifiers that entrance the crowd are turned off … you will still have your most important audience and fan – God. His shadow under which you abide tells you that you have found true rest..
God in the Bible has cut short the average life of mankind before - hinting that “vain living reduces life expectancy” … a principle not to be trifled with. I pray our lives will never be cut short due to an un-surrendered life without God’s checks and boundaries.
Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Surrender your life to Jesus – the true refuge and fortress. Amen