You Should Do Everything You Can To Live As Long As Possible

Let's face it: those who decide to undergo a medical procedure to extend their time on earth do so out of concern for a loved one or their family. “If I die before my spouse, he'll never be able to care for himself.” Or it's for the kids' sake.

I've been told by folks that it was my duty to get a certain surgery so that the extra time could be spent for the kingdom. Should we get open-heart surgery to extend our time on Earth? What about kidney dialysis? What if you need insulin to survive, as I do? Believe it or not, there are those in the church community who believe that you should do everything in your power to live as long as possible. Not doing so, they say, could be sin.

The heart-lung machine did not appear until 1953. Are we to assume that since the means and methods exist, we must now embrace them to delay the inevitable? Let's face it: some folks are just plain frightened of death. While they sing When We All Get To Heaven and confess to knowing they have eternal security in Christ, doubt exists where they are terrified of crossing the Great Divide. Dr. J Vernon McGee, a famous radio preacher, once said on the air, “I'm terrified of dying! I want to live as long as I can!”

You probably know someone who had open-heart surgery simply because they believed their spouse could not survive without it. I know of one elderly couple where the wife went in for cardiac bypass surgery. While she was under the knife, the husband had an epiphany: she would out-live him, placing herself in danger of trying to live alone. He decided to get the same surgery. The wife lived a lot longer, but spent most of her last months in abject misery, praying to God to take her. He eventually did. The husband sat alone, waiting in quiet desperation for release from his life. (He died 2 years after her passing.)

I had another good friend who had open-heart surgery. His life fell into a regimen of taking 30 different medications per day, avoiding the foods he enjoyed, and adding months of misery having to live with a cantankerous wife. On his final trip to the emergency room, after suffering a heart attack, he refused to allow the doctors to do anything that would keep him alive. After his bypass, he hung a Do Not Resuscitate medical alert badge around his neck.

There is no right or wrong answer. These decisions are very personal and must be made with much prayer and discussion. The problem I have is with folks who claim you are sinning for not doing XYZ to live longer. They reason that the extra time will allow you to convert more folks to Christ. This is nonsense. It's like the guy who thinks the company he's working for will go out of business if he isn't there to keep things ship-shape. He doesn't have sense to realize that 2 weeks after he's gone no one will remember his name.

My wife is 32 years younger than I. We have a 10-year-old daughter at the time of this writing. I face the real possibility of getting some kind of major operation to extend my life, simply to provide for my much younger family. But what if I opt out of it? Do I know what God has planned for those I leave behind? I tell my daughter on occasion, “Don't get mad at Jesus for taking me to heaven; He will have a reason.”

Whatever you decided to do regarding your health and welfare is your business. Just don't try and levy some misguided morality against others for choosing to let life take its own course.

Getting some kind of medical technology in order to spread the Gospel to a few more folks is rather assumptive, especially when most folks goof off the majority of their time chasing other things. You are given X amount of time by the Lord. He expects you to manage that time, not seek to extend it. An angel is not going to march me to the Judgment Seat to face the consequences of not embracing any and all available man-made technology.