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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 12:54 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º


Jim Langley: Living Well and Living Long, and ‘It Is Well With My Soul’

Opa, my granddad on my mom’s side, lived with Oma on 78 acres of Texas farmland for more than 70 years. He made it to his 94th birthday.

Oma lived to see her 105th birthday. After turning 100, she reverted to her native tongue and only spoke German for those last five years of her life.

As you can see, there’s some longevity in my genes. My dad also made it to his 100th birthday. So, it seems only fitting to carry on a discussion about living well and living long.

To me, living well means being in God’s will. It’s not about success or gaining my heart’s desires. It’s not about being seen by others as having lived a significant life. It’s about knowing that my life is pleasing to God.

Perhaps the best way to convey living well is to share a hymn penned by Horatio Spafford in 1876 entitled “It Is Well With My Soul.”

A successful Chicago attorney whose family went through several traumatic events, Spafford’s wealth was greatly diminished by the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and an economic downturn in 1873.

He sent his wife and four daughters across the Atlantic Ocean while he stayed behind to take care of some important business matters. Not long after, though, he received a distressing telegram from his wife that read “Saved alone ...” All four of their daughters were killed when their ship, the SS Ville du Havre, collided with a 1,200-ton iron ship, the Loch Earn, in a disaster that left 226 people dead. Shortly after, while traveling to meet his grieving wife, his own ship passed near the location where his daughters had perished.

Spafford was inspired to write lyrics that were later put to music by composer Philip Bliss. The well-known hymn goes like this: “When peace like a river, attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot. Thou hast taught me to know. It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Yes, whatever the circumstances we might face, those who follow Christ can confidently say “It is well with my soul.” That may not be what you call living well, but the joy of knowing Christ makes all things bearable. That hymn has given much solace to many Christians over the past two centuries.

Entering the fourth quarter of my life, I can proudly proclaim that I am living well and do plan to live a long life. Certainly, my Lord can take me at any time He wishes, but I suspect He has much still planned for me in these remaining years.

Some of my local fellow insurance agents have written me off and started rumors that I’m retiring. I may not be as focused on my insurance practice as I once was, but I’m certainly not retiring. These days I spend much of my time serving God as He sees fit, and I truly love the time spent writing essays about confronting the challenges life brings.

Many Christians are satisfied with living a fairly short life and often quote Psalm 90:10; “The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

I find this Psalm of Moses, who lived to 120 years of age by the way, to be directed to those Israelites who were over the age of 20 and perished in the desert before their descendants under the age of 20 were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Personally, I prefer to reference Genesis 6:3 where the Lord tells Noah, “My spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty.”

Frankly, I doubt God will keep me here on earth for that time, but if He does and if He tarries in returning to claim the souls of His people, I’m preparing for the long run. Actually, each day gets sweeter and sweeter as I spend more time drawing near to Him.

Let me share a few more lyrics from “It Is Well With My Soul” with you: “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blessed assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate. And hath shed His own blood on my soul.”

Spafford then ends with these profound lyrics: “And Lord haste the day when the faith will be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend. A song in the night oh my soul.”

Yes, life can be lived well and lived long and I trust you will draw near to God and experience a life filled with His goodness and His perfect peace.

Passages to Ponder

» Proverbs 10:27-28

» Jeremiah 10:23-24

» Romans 2:6-8

» Galatians 2:20

» Colossians 1:10-12

» 2 Peter 1:3-4

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at [email protected] for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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