A recent Yale study that tracked 3,635 people over 12 years found that book readers lived an average of two years longer than non-book readers; according to that study, the more time spent reading books, the better.
Based upon that study, William Falk, editor-in-chief of The Week magazine, reaches the following conclusion: “So, my friends, no matter what fresh madness the New Year brings, armor yourselves with a pile of good books. Our lives, and our sanity, may depend on it.”
Now I must admit that when I read this, I began to think about the books I have read in the past year. One of my favorite pastimes is reading books. They are, for the most part, the tools of my trade.
Until recently, I had quite an extensive library of books – granted most of them were theological or spiritual in content, but they were nonetheless quite valuable resources for my edification. That study doesn’t seem to apply a factor to the number of years lived longer based upon the number of books read. But there is something to be said for cuddling up in an overstuffed chair on a cold winter night with a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee with a new Clive Cussler tome. My wife prefers Beverly Lewis.
You may have other favorite authors, but reading their works, at least according to this study, will help you live a couple of years longer.
But don’t you know, when I read of that study, I thought of another book that extends life for all eternity and deepens life into abundance — the Bible. Our lives and our sanity may depend on it — not just knowing it, but by trusting its Author and then living by it.
For many, the Bible is just an ancient volume filled with stories – some believable, many not. They look at it as a book no different from any other book – similar to the works of Shakespeare or Aristotle, or even John Grisham or Tom Clancy.
But the Bible IS different from those other works. It claims to be the revelation of God Himself to man. That claim in and of itself makes the Bible a unique book.
And it does change lives – and in very practical ways. One man who was a lifelong alcoholic and had seen his alcoholism destroy almost everything of value to him, after reading the Bible, began to believe what it says. He boldly proclaimed: “Don’t tell me the Bible doesn’t change lives! I am living proof that it does. After reading the Bible, God changed my whiskey bottle into furniture!”
The world is looking for that kind of change! We live in a world where nothing stays the same. What was a sure thing yesterday is filled with doubt today. Things we thought were poured in concrete are today awash in a sea of uncertainty.
Take for example, that “sure thing” called a Global Positioning System, more widely known as a GPS. Anyone with any technological savvy at all finds such systems almost indispensable for our survival in this day. But is it really a sure thing?
A good test for this is found in Australia. Did you know that Australia is moving? This isn’t so surprising — all the continents are on the move, and Australia drifts 70 millimeters to the northeast every year. The continent drifts away at a rate far too slow for humans to notice. But that journey is now starting to mess with GPS systems that rely on pinpoint accuracy.
Australian GPS was last updated in 1994, and the entire country has moved a little more than five feet since then. Much of our current technology relies on accurate GPS coordinates. For instance, driverless tractors that help with farm work will start having problems because the information about the farm won’t line up with the co-ordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.
For Australians using driverless cars or shipping drones, accurate map information is fundamental.
Everything on earth changes. There is nothing you and I can rely upon as being the same today as it was yesterday. That includes the weather, the headlines on the evening news, and yes, even the geography of the mighty continents.
But for believers there are three crucial foundational things that will never change: God doesn’t change; His Word doesn’t change; and His promises do not change. These are settled forever in the heavens.
On May 7, 1915, the R.M.S Lusitania, a British ocean liner, was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine. The ship sank in a matter of minutes, killing 1198 of the 1959 passengers aboard.
One passenger, bookseller Charles Lauriat, observed that, “Dead and drowning people were ‘dotting the sea like seagulls.’ Many bodies were floating upside down because people had put their life jackets on the wrong way up … so that their heads were pushed under the water.”
His observations included that the reason people had put their life jackets on upside down was that they had failed to read the instructions, which were widely distributed and posted throughout the ship.
Probably one of the greatest of these claims and promises is found in Hebrews 13:5, where God says, “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
No matter whether you are going through some good times or bad times, God is there. We tend to think that God is there in the good times, but for some reason has left us when things go bad. But those hard and difficult trials are just the time when we need him — and that promise – the most.
So the question today is simply, “Won’t you take God at his Word … today?”
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.