Aqueducts are a fascinating study, especially the ancient aqueducts that dot the landscape all over the former Roman Empire. You find their remains everywhere— in mountains, on beaches, down valleys, on top of hills, in flat plains, in rolling hills, near towns, and out in the country. They are ubiquitous. The two pictures you see above are mine, taken at the remains of the enormous aqueduct behind the famous theater in Aspendos in Turkey.
My pastor told a true story the other day in church which was about aqueducts. There was an aqueduct that had been carrying water for 1800 years, from Roman times until the present. Then at some point in the 19th century the locals decided to ‘retire’ the aqueduct, and put pipes in the ground for the transportation of water. The water supply ceased to flow across the aqueduct. What happened? Well the aqueduct which had served a vital function for almost two millenia dried out, dried up, and began to crumble. The result was not the preservation or mere retirement of the aqueduct (for the people had planned to preserve it for historical purposes) but rather the demise of the aqueduct. It feel apart, and crumbled into dust bit by bit. When something ceases to function as it was intended to function, it rusts, or falls into ruin.
And this brings me to human beings. I was reading the wellness report from Duke on my fellow Methodist ministers, and it was not pretty. It suggested that within just a few years of retirement many ministers either died or fell seriously ill. They lost their raison d’etre, and in some case lost their desire to go on living. My point is several fold: 1) retirement is a modern invention. It’s not a Biblical concept. Rest is a Biblical concept, retirement is not (see my book the Rest of Life). Retirement is an idea dreamed up in the wake of the industrial revolution. 2) when people lose their purpose and function in life, they often fall apart, and even die, like the aqueduct. Human beings are ‘purpose-driven’ creatures. They are not like cats who would just as soon sleep, and eat and play, and do nothing useful all day. Think on these things.