In his book Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner writes about science’s promise to radically extend how long we live. At the center of the book is English scientist Aubrey de Grey, who predicts that science will one day offer us 1,000-year lifespans. Aubrey claims that molecular biology has finally placed a cure for aging within our reach.
While visiting the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England, I reflected on the fact that this may be the most remembered achievement of the Roman emperor who came to power in ad 117. As many as 18,000 Roman soldiers manned this 80-mile-long barrier, built to keep the northern barbarians from invading the south.
It can be quite discouraging for wanna-be writers to get their work rejected time after time. When they send in a manuscript to a publisher, they’ll often hear back in a letter with these words: “Thank you. But your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” Sometimes this really means “not at this time—or ever.” So they try the next publisher and the next.
Conventional wisdom questions how much can be accomplished with little. We tend to believe that a lot more can be done if we have large financial resources, talented manpower, and innovative ideas. But these things don’t matter to God. Consider just a couple of examples:
Before she was 2 years old, my granddaughter Katie did something that would make any grandpa proud: She began to recognize cars by make and year. This all started when she and her daddy began spending time together playing with his old collection of toy cars. Daddy would say, “Katie, get the 1957 Chevy,” and she would pick it out of the hundreds of tiny cars. And once, while he was reading a Curious George book to her, she climbed down from his lap and ran to get a miniature Rolls Royce—an exact replica of the car pictured in the book.
Someone once asked me why she should be like Jesus now since she would become like Him when she got to heaven (1 John 3:1-3). Great question! Especially when it’s easier to just be yourself.
It happened again. I got the urge to clean my office. Before I could resist, I had created an even bigger mess than I started with. One pile turned into many piles when I started sorting books, papers, and magazines. As the mess mushroomed, I lamented that I had started. But there was no going back.
Recently I was called for jury duty. It meant extraordinary inconvenience and lots of lost time, but it was also serious business. During the first day’s orientation, the judge lectured us on the responsibility at hand and the important nature of the task. We were going to sit in judgment of people who either had disputes (civil court) or were charged with crimes (criminal court). I felt a great sense of inadequacy for the task at hand. Passing judgment on another person, with serious life consequences riding on the decision, is not a simple thing. Because we’re flawed human beings, we may not always make the right judgments.