So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4: 16

 

The mirror is a cruel companion. So is this body that carries me around on its good days and that I seem to haul about on the others. That’s why the convergence of the two of them, body and mirror, can be so terribly jarring to mind and discouraging to my ego. This reality of aging and of the frail natures of our human shells is a part of what Paul is discussing here. None of us live forever in this world and with these bodies. Life on this earth will end, and that is, in fact, a part of God’s mercy, for He knows full well the darkness that resides in our hearts and the lost nature of the world wherein we dwell. This is not the place and we are not by nature the beings that should live forever and beyond. We enter into God’s mercy and grace at its fullest expression when we leave this life and commence an eternity of experiencing the redemption of Christ.

 

This struggle or tension between a life that we cherish but that is degrading every day and the promise of eternity is one that every follower of Christ needs to encounter. We should not wish to retain all of the vestiges of ourselves as we have been, for there is never enough of Christ present within us, and there is always far too much of the flesh on display. In some very tangible ways, the loss of ability and even of capability that happens with time and with wear and tear on our bodies and minds is good, valuable, and to be embraced. For, as our human strength is depleted, our reliance upon Christ’s strength is granted an opportunity to flourish. When this body falters and this mind starts to slow down like an unwound grandfather clock, the truth and the wisdom that God imparts to His people should be the fuel that empowers us into vitality for the day ahead.

 

Yet, this acceptance of the gift of wisdom that Christ offers to us is something that we engage or deny. There are no guarantees of being wise that come along in conjunction with age and by virtue of the passing of time. We have all known and been frustrated by people that land in the category of “old fool”, and I know that, for myself, I do not desire to be known as such by others and certainly not judged in this manner by Christ in my day of final reckoning. The process of aging that begins with our first breath of life on this earth is one that we can embrace and even welcome if it is accompanied by the presence of God’s Word, Christ’s Spirit, and the encouragement and accountability of His body of faith. Through the presence of Christ in our lives, we are truly renewed and vitalized into people who can demonstrate the grace, love, and mercy of our Savior and Lord in the world and to its people in ways that breathe life and hope to others who are challenged by the futility of aging without Christ on the other side of this life.

 

 

 

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So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4: 16

 

The erosion and the deterioration of the body is one of the realities that all people face. The longer we live, the more it is apparent. We can do things to either slow or to accelerate the advance of time in our bodies, but in the end, time wins. This is true for followers of Christ just as much as it is true for people who follow other gods or no god at all. We can despair over this loss of youth and its strength and beauty, but despair gains us nothing. We can fight against it, too, but, likewise, the battle with Father Time is not going to be eternally productive. Now there is a third alternative to surrender or to full-on war fare, that option is the one in which we accept the physical aspects of aging and embrace the way that Christ works in us as we travel through life with our hearts and minds yielded to Him.

 

This sort of surrender is not particularly easy for most people. We are wired to be fighters and to be independent workers in those encounters with our world and with life. Yet God says that He wants us to surrender to Him and to yield our control over everything to His will. There are to be no holdouts and no exceptions to this total surrender to the Lord. So, when we actually enter into acceptance of the supremacy of God and give our lives over to Him in full, Christ’s transformative work in our hearts, minds, and spirits is accelerated. He takes over and renews all of the internal real estate that we deed over to His hand of grace, mercy, and love.

 

Although some people get this idea at an early age, most of us do not. There seems to be something significant in the way that as our bodies age and start to break down that our hearts become more open to what Christ desires to do within them. It is as if the strength and capacity of youth function as a hindrance to acceptance of the absolute lordship of Christ over all of life. So, age and infirmity with their ever-growing list of broken body parts is not at all a bad thing so long as we keep turning to Christ for our strength, wisdom, and encouragement. As our hands grow weary, His reach out more boldly from us. As our eyes continue to fail, Christ’s vision becomes ever clearer to His people; for, in the quiet of diminished hearing, God’s Word of life can be heard with ever-greater clarity.