On 14 April the oldest man in the world, Walter Breuning, died of natural causes in Great Falls Hospital, Montana, at the age of 114. Walter grew up in the early years of the 20th century in a house with no electricity or running water. People travelled by train, horse and foot. His parents split up in 1912, so he had to find a job. In 1913 he got a job with the Great Northern Railway and worked for 50 years on the railroad, working seven days a week. His father died in 1915 at the age of 50, and his mother died in 1917 at the age of 46.
Walter lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s. He married Agnes, in 1932. She died in 1957. They had no children. Walter said the secret to a long life is to embrace change, to eat two meals a day, work as long as you can, help others and accept death.
We are told that in the future more people will live to be 100 years old than ever before, though not many of us will live to be 114! It is important, therefore, to think carefully about how we spend our lives. The really important thing is not how long we live, but that we live as God intends us to live. King Solomon gave advice on how to live a full and meaningful life, “My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life. Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing can compare with her. She offers you life in her right hand, and riches and honour in her left.”
Life is more than mere survival. It is so important to know God and to consciously walk in his ways. The earlier in life we do this the better. Everyone who has come to know Jesus Christ late in life wishes they had known him sooner.
The apostle Paul was not afraid to die. He said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” From the moment he became a Christian, Jesus Christ became the centre of his life. He knew that even though he would be put to death for his faith, he would go to be with Jesus forever.