March 25, 2014

Growing Younger Everyday

When I was a kid, I played a game called Fast Food on my Atari. With the joystick, I moved a chomping mouth around the screen, attempting to scarf down french fries and soft drinks while avoiding the big, green pickles. As the game progressed, the food flew at my "mouth" at greater and greater speeds until finally I succumbed to one fast-flying pickle too many. 

Sometimes I feel like I am in a real-world game of Fast Food: the years are moving so fast that they're blurring on the screen, and I feel like I'm often just reacting to the present responsibilities whizzing by.  

I feel myself getting older. And I see it too: the creases beside my eyes are deeper, for one. My energy levels tank faster than they used to, and my knees actually ached from sitting too long on the airplane coming back from Africa. 
Sometimes I look forward to growing older. Older means, God-willing, getting to watch my children come into their own. Older means reading glasses, which I kind of like. Older means experience and wisdom, at least I hope. Older means, God-willing, more years of marriage under our belts. Older means a better understanding of myself, at least that's what I'm counting on.

But sometimes I look in the mirror and cringe, because I don't want to get older. It feels so very permanent for a non-Botoxer: once your face cracks, you can't go back. But getting older is more than wrinkles, of course. I've watched my grandparents lose friends and family to death. I've watched my mom lose her parents. I've seen failing health and cancer scares. I've seen how the wisdom of old-age is often hard-won. 

Getting older just seems so permanent. And inevitable. 

But is it? In the physical sense, most definitely. Our bodies remind us which each passing year that we're a part of a broken world and that we're headed, like all before us, to the grave. 

But in the spiritual sense, if we are in Christ, we're actually getting younger. With each passing year, while our bodies decay, our souls are moving closer and closer to the beginning of life--eternal life. True, unadulterated life in Christ will only begin when our bodies give out. Each day that we live, each day that we look at deepening wrinkles in the mirror, we're one day closer to our birth into a kingdom that will never end, one day closer to being made new. So what, I ask, is really permanent? 

Our world directs our attention to the body and either mourns its decay or tries to stop decay's advance. As Christians, we can celebrate our own aging as a march-step to new life (and a new body!) This truth also directs us to highly value the inward man, the part of us that will live forever in Christ, and to present our hearts for renewal in Christ each day.

Pauls gives us words to face aging with:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

It seems to me that our aging bodies, while increasingly frail and broken, can actually serve as an encouragement, a truth-telling about the brokenness of the world and our need for a resurrecting Savior, and a reminder of the new birth to come.

I never want to Botox that away!