Recently, I read a brief article regarding longevity. You know, the ability to stay the course for a long span of time. The featured evidence in the article? The Rolling Stones. That’s right, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards et. al. I found the article in the Bloomberg Businessweek. I know nothing of the magazine other than my nephew, Ricci, has a subscription.
Check this out…
In 2012, the Stones celebrated their 5oth anniversary. Other celebs not so fortunate (at least not yet):
Michael Jackson (or any other Jackson)
Even Tower Records came and went telling us the Stones have not only out lived and out-performed many, they have even out lived some technology.
When the Stones started out a 45rpm record (two songs for those too young to know about 45’s) would cost $1.00. In 2012 dollars that would be $7.60. Today the top iTune price for a single is $1.29. Stuff cost a lot in the good ol’ days!
The average age of a Rolling Stone is 68.75. The average age of a Supreme Court Justice is 66.11. While the Stones seem to get better and better, I’m not so sure about the other guys.
The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. My sons were little fellas then and my 21 year old daughter had not yet been born. Still, the Hall of Fame didn’t slow them down. Since 1989 the Stones have played live concerts in front of 25 million people. Do the math. That is over 10 million people a year.
The Stones most recent tour, A Bigger Bang Tour, pulled in $558 million dollars. The gross domestic product of the nation of Tonga is $439 million. One tour!
And just for the record (no pun intended) the Stones have 42 gold albums, 28 platinum albums, 12 multi-platinum albums, and a diamond album. Gold albums equal 500,000, platinums a 1,000,000, diamonds 10,000,000. Only Elvis, The Beatles, and Barbara Streisand have done better.
So what’s the point in all of this information? Well, besides just the sheer impressiveness of the Rolling Stones career, it tells us something about sustainability. Purpose, desire, attitude, and more can help a person or group overcome the odds, reach and maintain success, and achieve and sustain a vision. The Bible talks about this kind of truth. A person or a group literally can will something to come about. Determination and drive can propel us to great things. And they should…except for…
…except for salvation.
King Solomon learned this truth centuries ago. In his book, Ecclesiastes, he chronicled the pursuit of meaning through desire, profit, achievement, success, wealth, power, education, and fame all wrapped up in a package called longevity. Read it. It won’t take you very long. You will find that this “wisest man in all the world” discovered something quite sobering. He learned that no amount of short or long term success, not the pursuit nor the catch, could fill the hole in his heart. Somewhere deep down inside there would always be a severe sound screaming in his soul so long as he attempted to silence it with success.
In the end, God revealed to Solomon a wonderful truth: a person can only find real and lasting meaning in the source of his being…the Creator. Ecclesiastes 3:11 puts it this way: “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Did you get that? God has set eternity in our hearts. We long for it. We yearn for it…and God alone can give it, because God alone is eternal. Anything less will never fill that hole in the heart.
Now while I understand the specific nature of the Rolling Stones song, Satisfaction, I can also see how it reveals this biblical truth: I can’t get no satisfaction. Without the eternal God there will be no victory in the vacuum of our hearts.
Outside of his music, Mick Jagger has been quoted as saying, “The elusive nature of love… it can be such a fleeting thing. You see it there and it’s just fluttering and it’s gone.” Even love cannot sustain us.
He also said, “Lose your dreams and you might lose your mind.” Even our dreams, our hopes, our vision will not satisfy the longing in our lives.
Statements like these might also be why he said, “I’d rather be dead than singing “Satisfaction” when I’m forty-five.” Mick sounds a lot like Solomon: “Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Longevity is not the measure of success. If it were than one might just as well attend church for fifty years without ever really knowing the Lord.
In fact, success itself is not the true measure of success. If it were than the person dying with the most toys really would be the winner.
Longevity and success, while not irrelevant, simply are not enough. They were not enough for Solomon. They are not enough for Mick Jagger or the other Rolling Stones. And they are not enough for you or for me.
Sure, work hard. Do your best. Be your best. Never give up. Never get old. Stop being childish, but never stop being child-like. Give it your all from start to finish with as much energy as you can muster. Don’t settle for empty houses or empty accounts. Do all of this, but not when it comes to the hole in your heart or the severe screaming in your soul. For this kind of emptiness you need the Eternal.