I’ve been thinking a lot about aging lately. Gray hairs are starting to find their way into my auburn hair, and fine lines and creases are beginning to frame the features of my face. The youthful aspects of my body that I’ve always taken for granted seem to be losing their momentum. I’m trying to gain an eternal perspective about the physical changes that I’m about to experience as God allows me to live more years on this earth.
To acquire understanding, I looked at the average lifespan of a person. I know that people many times use the concept of “seasons” when describing life, so I divided the average life into four: spring, summer, autumn and winter. If a person lives 80 years, then each season will have a set of 20 years. I realize this is a little cut-and-dry, but I really needed to have something tangible to explore the aging process and to prepare myself for what’s to come.
Since I am thirty-four years old, I am nearing the end of summer. The youth I’ve always known is waning, and I will begin the beautiful season of fall. I’m not angry or scared about this new season. I’ve just always been horrible with change, and my mind and spirit desperately need awareness before my scenery transforms. I want to stay on the curving path of God’s design, so I will have victory in my autumn years and continue to live with confidence in Christ.
Jesus never lived into His last two seasons; He was crucified in the glory of His summer. He conquered death for us and returned to show His resurrected body to the world. He walked the earth in the ripeness of His summer, and the splendor of His eternal body revealed the scars of His earthly sacrifice. His physical brokenness became His everlasting beauty.
Brokenness is not a very nice word in a culture obsessed with perfection and beauty. If someone were to invent a body eraser to airbrush over blemishes and imperfections, that person would become a gazillionaire. We would use that eraser to shave off inches from our hips and stomachs, erase freckles and wrinkles and rub out stretch marks, cellulite and scars. We might even become skilled enough to shade in some muscle tone and firmness! We would definitely not highlight our brokenness, but that’s exactly what Jesus did.
Our brokenness is what releases God’s fullness in our lives. It is not until we finally admit that we are not perfect and our efforts at control don’t work, that we finally cling onto to God’s power instead of our own. When we die to ourselves, God lives abundantly in us. And God will break us to get us to understand that. Aging is definitely a form of brokenness. As we get older, we realize that time is no longer on our side. Our physical bodies are dying and we have very few years left to reach our predestined purposes. Aging helps us to look beyond ourselves and into the heart of God, where the spiritual and eternal things dwell.
I pray that in my new season, God will show me how fleeting my looks are and how short my life is compared to eternity. I want heaven-eyes, so I can keep my life aligned with God’s everlasting plan. I desire to lay hold of the aspects of my life that have eternal value, so my life can have purpose and meaning. I know that the physical elements of this life are important, but I want to use them to develop and fulfill eternal assignments.
With all that said, I will still hold onto the promise that I will die in this crippled, mortal shell and be transformed into my Eternal Summer self. In heaven I will have long auburn hair, a wrinkle free face and youthful muscles. I will be able to fly, run and dance into God’s glory that fills the gates of heaven. But I know that any brokenness I endured in this life for the Kingdom of God will be worn like a badge of honor. I will recite my stories of how I lived by faith for Christ, and I will highlight the brokenness that caused me to cling onto God because I believed in His promises.
And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
– 1 Corinthians 15.53-55 (NLT)
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