Happy Birthday to Me

Birthday Cupcake with CandleMiddle age struck three years ago, and I muffled through the passing as quietly as possible. Since then, I prefer not to even talk about my age most of the time. (Okay, not at all, actually.)

Approaching my last day in this life doesn’t really bother me. The steady decline of my physical state between now and then bothers me. My body already shows signs of it happening, and I hate feeling helpless knowing it’s going to happen no matter how much I resist. Exercise. Healthy eating. Adequate rest. Anti-wrinkle cream. And still the signs of aging multiply.

The forehead crease between my eyebrows bothers me the most of all the signs of aging, probably because of its prominence. Without major intervention via Botox or going under the knife, the crease will likely continue to stop conversations. “What’s up with that crease in your forehead?” (Seriously happened.)

When I focus on my physical aging, a gaze that happens in August more than any other month, the mental and spiritual aspects of my self seem get wrapped up in the obsession too. And this all-inclusiveness of the aging process bothers me more than the forehead crease.

Anti-Aging Scripture

One portion of Scripture brings me not only amazing peace within my struggle over my physical aging but also tremendous encouragement and even guidance.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

What’s that about “eternal glory”? Just this…

“…because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.” (2 Corinthians 4:14)

As I celebrate (which basically means pretending it doesn’t happen) my third year past what many consider life’s halfway point, I am drawn to focus on the part of me that isn’t “wasting away” but is “being renewed day by day” (means I’m actually not aging, right?)… the part that gets to experience this “eternal glory.” I’m definitely up for that!

This change in focus certainly gives the physical decline (and I may be exaggerating its severity only slightly) less attention, which then allows my attentions to find their way toward God’s desires. And that renewed focus — the one bent toward eternity — completely changes my perspective by helping me to…

  1. Refuse to give up and become a couch potato.
  2. Focus on renewal instead of on that which will continue to fade.
  3. Look past the physical of this life and toward the reality of eternity.
  4. Maintain a forward focus instead of a downhill one.
  5. Seek eternal joy in place of temporary happiness.

And while I now feel motivated to continue making progress because of the truth of the Scripture given above, what follows in the next chapter of Corinthians ices the cake (and I don’t even eat cake, not even for my birthday). We’ll look at that portion of Scripture — at the new body we’re promised — in next week’s post.

DISCUSSION: Where does your focus lie?

Living a Long Life

Is Age Really Just a Number?3-28-13 long life 1

This topic idea has been festering for a while. I say festering because I hate aging. Hate seems like a strong word, but I really struggle with the idea that I am aging and can do nothing ultimately to stop it. My last birthday may have amplified this struggle just a bit too.

Festering because I wondered if I can legitimately address this issue having lived just 40 years (gee, I hate admitting that), hopefully not even half my earthly life yet. I get told over and over again how young I am, but I’ve notice that the people saying this are, well, older than me.

The amount of days I truly feel young lessens with every passing year. I hear that age is a state of mind, but that just concerns me more since what my mind says about my age and what my body says are very different.

Because of my struggle with aging, the question of “How can I live a long life?” comes up from time to time.

How to Live a Long Life

I read a lot of books and magazines, and many of them at least touch on the topic of extending your life and looking and feeling younger. They include topics ranging from exercise and diet to managing stress and staying connected.

The Bible is also a part of my regular reading, and it also has a lot to say about living a long life. But not only does it just get at the physical side of life, it also gets how our character impacts the length of our days.

Consider the following Biblical instruction on how to live a long life.

  1. Fear God. (Proverbs 10:27)
  2. Get wisdom. (Proverbs 9:11)
  3. Obey God. (Deuteronomy 5:33)
  4. Honor your parents. (Ephesians 6:2-3)
  5. Avoid wickedness. (Ecclesiastes 7:17 & Psalm 55:23)
  6. Pursue God. (Psalm 91:9-16)

As I consider this instruction, I am acutely aware that it doesn’t always work. I mean, someone can follow this advice and still not live a long life in earthly terms. And I realize this is because God’s will doesn’t always happen on earth as it does in Heaven (think abortions and murder as extreme examples).

So, doing what the Bible says we need to do to live a long life does not guarantee increased years on this earth.

Yet, I know that my gift of a long life extends beyond the physical and into the eternal. Psalm 91:16 says that along with salvation comes the gift of a long life. It’s that gift that motivates me to live as long as a life this side of heaven as possible, living out His will on earth as it is done in Heaven.

3-28-13 long life 2Not Getting Any Older!

Even as I struggle with the aging of my body and still seek to live out God’s will on this earth, I find great comfort in knowing that what I see is not really reality.

Yes, my body is getting older, dying actually. That’s true for all of us. But the part of me that will live forever gets renewed every day. So, in a very real way, more real than the aging process I see in the mirror and feel in my joints, I AM NOT GETTING OLDER.

I find tremendous comfort in knowing that while my physical body ages and I can’t do anything about it, God renews my spirit daily (2 Corinthians 4: 16). And that spirit is what will live with Him in eternity.

As if that weren’t enough, I also will one day get a NEW BODY that won’t decay (1 Corinthians 15:53). Even though I can’t put my order in on exactly what age I want to be in that new body (29 would be nice), knowing I am getting a body that God intends to live for eternity is very exciting to me.

Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader