“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18
It’s coming up on my birthday again. Once an event much anticipated and enjoyed, now an experience more akin to finding something unpleasant on one’s shoe. I don’t know if I should ignore it, and endure the tacky sensation with each step taken, or approach it head on. Face it and swallow the puckering unpleasantness of having it in full view – look the battered, gray balding man in the mirror straight in his eyes and stand up to his taunting, “what happened to you!” sneer.
I won’t be bullied – I’ll face him this year. I’ll even stick my tongue out at him. “You’re withering,” I’ll say, “but I am being renewed day by day.”
I may talk tough, but it does kind of scare me. The sand is definitely running out of this body. As a package of meat I’m well past my sell date – and already starting to turn brown. It would be easy to lose heart. Just listen to my mind thinking: life is a painful, unwelcome experience that ends too soon. A momentary affliction – unpleasant and without purpose. Just look at how my flesh is wasting away – there’s nothing I can do to stop it. All I have in this life is my body, and it’s in some kind of frantic hurry to leave me behind.
Ah yes. This is all true. In part. The mind thinks the intellect is king, and wants me to submit to him. But I know who the real King is. The mental carousel is a magical place of alluring lights and sugary music – it’s easy to get hypnotized. And wouldn’t it be ok, don’t I deserve on my birthday to go for a ride? Around and around, up and down, wearing a gaudy self-pity crown.
It requires an enormous effort on my part, an incredible focus and exertion of energy to look beyond the carnival tents and up to the mountain beyond. That little moment of maturity costs me at least a day in bed to recuperate. But I do get it sometimes. Close my eyes and see the unseen. Gather a grain of faith to salt the facts of life.
Faith won’t preserve the body. It’s not that kind of salt. The body will go. Slowly melt and sag its way back to the earth. I’ll try desperately to prop it up with scotch tape and stitches – but it’s going where it belongs. And we are going where we belong.
Eternal glory with God. A reward worth more than every pain ever suffered on the earth. It hurts, but only for a moment. God is pulling the band-aid off. He has to. That’s how He separates the temporal from the eternal in us, that’s how he prepares us to be with Him. Forever.
I wish there was another way – that somehow I could keep my hair and muscles of thirty years ago as long as I liked, eventually pushing a shiny button and getting on a glass elevator – when I am good and ready – for my ride to Heaven. I wish there was a way to have my birthday cake and eat it too. But I know that’s just a carny’s dream. I have to grow up and love the Way my Father has made for me. I want to do it. I’m gonna do it. But I can see that it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to get used to doing things His way. I’ll probably be exhausted much of the time. In fact, I think I feel a nap coming on me right now.
Love & Blessings,
Steve (the birthday boy)