Immortality is a frequent topic in movies, books, and conversations. What would you do if you were immortal, if you were able to live on this earth forever? Would you want to?
In fifth grade, we read the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt as part of the curriculum. Do you remember reading it? In summary, the book is about the Tuck family, four people who accidentally drank from a spring that made them immortal (hence the title, Tuck Everlasting). It took them a while – decades – to realize what had happened. They stopped aging, and it was impossible for them to die even when everything and everyone around them did.
The idea of living forever is not a new concept. Eternal youth is sought after and seems to be a highly desirable – yet impossible – thing. Perhaps we think we would want to live forever – even in this fallen world – because death is often presented as being scary – even in the Church. Death is the unknown. As humans, we like to know exactly what to expect, and with death, we really don’t know. Maybe there are other reasons.
Why shouldn’t we want to be immortal? Mr. Tuck says it so well:
“Know what that is, all around us, Winnie?” said Tuck, his voice low. “Life. Moving, growing, changing, never the same two minutes together. This water, you look out at it every morning, and it looks the same, but it ain’t. All night long it’s been moving, coming in through the stream back there to the west, slipping out through the stream down east here, always quiet, always new, moving on…”
“Know what happens then?” said Tuck. “To the water? The sun sucks some of it up right out of the ocean and carries it back in clouds, and then it rains, and the rain falls into the stream, and the stream keeps moving on, taking it all back again. It’s a wheel, Winnie. Everything’s a wheel, turning and turning, never stopping. The frogs is part of it, and the bugs, and the fish, and the wood thrush, too. And people. But never the same ones. Always coming in new, always growing and changing, and always moving on. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way it is.”
“It goes on,” Tuck repeated, “to the ocean. But this rowboat now, it’s stuck. If we didn’t move it out ourself, it would stay here forever, trying to get loose, but stuck. That’s what us Tucks are, Winnie. Stuck so’s we can’t move on. We ain’t part of the wheel no more…Left behind. And everywhere around us, things is moving and growing and changing…dying’s part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing. But it’s passing us by, us Tucks…If I knowed how to climb back on the wheel, I’d do it in a minute. You can’t have living without dying. So, you can’t call it living, what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road.”Tuck Everlasting, pages 61-64
This book goes so well with the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. This family had something that so many think they want – immortality – and yet they were miserable because they realized that it wasn’t good. It wasn’t fulfilling. It was meaningless.
As followers of Jesus, we know that Heaven is our future home and that we will live there forever. Heaven is perfect, it’s everything this earth was supposed to be before Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-3). There is no death, no sin, no tears, no pain. Heaven is real and it will be glorious.
For those who follow Jesus, because we know what is to come, being stuck here on this fallen, broken earth should not be appealing at all. Death is not the end for any of us, but rather the beginning. Heaven is what gives our life on earth meaning and purpose.
“If heaven is real, it’s all that matters. If heaven isn’t real, nothing matters.”C.S. Lewis
The Tuck family isn’t able to die, which means that Heaven is unattainable…which makes life on earth meaningless.
If I were offered immortality, I think I’d pass. Would you?