March 21st, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


She celebrated her 104th birthday this week. Elizabeth Sullivan of Fort Worth.

Well at 103 I didn’t think I’d make it, but I’m still perking along.”

And yes, she needs a doctor. Three of them, in fact. But not the kind with MD next to their names. She needs Dr. Pepper!

People try to give me coffee for breakfast. Well, I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper.”

The good lady began imbibing said soft drink about forty years ago. Three a day. Yup, THREE! Three Dr. Peppers every day.

And Ms. Sullivan had this to say about the other kind of doctors.

Every doctor that sees me says these Dr. Peppers will kill you, but they die and I don’t.”

And guess how she celebrated her 104th? With a birthday cake shaped like a Dr. Pepper can.

When you live to be 104 and still can talk to nice people, you deserve some Dr. Pepper, but I never expected this.”

Even the CEO of Dr. Pepper Snapple, Larry Young, joined the festivities by sending Sullivan a gift basket.

The centenarian-plus has been a fixture in the Fort Worth community for decades. Taught high school math. Tutored football players for free. And is still up and about.

Man, I’m feeling good. I’m glad I’m still here. I’m glad I’m not in a rest home. Glad I can read books and watch TV and have people come by and say hello.”

When asked if she had a secret for living so long—besides consuming aforementioned soda thrice a day—she replied that she really didn’t, other than: “You just keep livin’.

The Bible has a lot to say about long life. For instance:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord …
so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
Ephesians 6:1, 3

The common scholarly approach to this is to consider it a general truth with a number of exceptions (innocent children dying early deaths, disrespectful children living long, etc.). I take a different tack.

Of course, there are a number of causes for longevity: inherited genes, refraining from addictions, eating well, exercising appropriately, driving carefully, treating illnesses, etc.

And Ephesians 6:2–3 adds yet another condition to this list: obedience to/honoring of parents. There is no reason to suspect that this promise is false or that it comes to pass only infrequently or that it is only partially true. I would much rather affirm that, all other causes and conditions being the same, obeying one’s parents will increase one’s lifespan.

One might well add the numerous utterances in Proverbs that promise longevity by eschewing violence (1:19), avoiding naiveté (1:32; 10:21; 14:12; 21:16), obeying God (3:1–2; 4:10), being wise (3:16; 9:11; 13:14; 15:24), resisting adultery (5:5, 23; 7:27; 9:18), fearing God (10:27; 14:27; 19:23: 22:4), displaying righteousness (11:4, 19, 30; 16:17; 19:16: 21:21), refusing wickedness (12:7; 15:27; 22:22–23), speaking guardedly (13:3; 21:6), as well as honoring parents (20:20; 30:17). Rather than consign these to the category of sententious moralisms that are not necessarily true all the time, I would affirm that they are always true.

I do not venture to say by how many milliseconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or decades, but I would maintain that honoring parents does prolong life, by some amount. (The contrary is true as well: sin reduces lifespan.) So while I would not dare to speculate on the length of time these habits add to one’s life, I remain convinced that they will do so, all other factors remaining equal.

Live godly, live long!


  1. Ted and Kay Lyons March 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Great to see you a couple of weeks ago – look forward to listening to you at Northwest.
    Blessings to you!


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