Friday, December 28, 2012

The Outward May Perish But the Inward Grows

     As we are coming to the close of an "old year", I could not help but reflect on the journey I have taken over the course of my lifetime.  Reading 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 this morning, brought encouragement to my heart today:  "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.  For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.  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."
     In reading this, I recalled the very difficult days when I cared for my mother during her ten year struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.  She came to live here in Florida where I could look after her.  It was a bittersweet time in my life to watch this bright, energetic woman slowly slip away from us.  However, God blessed our family when He gave her a roommate that prayed for her and read Scripture to her.  Having had the opportunity to care for her, I now cherish that memory.  Her outward body was failing but her spirit could hear and be renewed inwardly.
     I, myself suffer with Post Polio Syndrome as many of you are aware.  My physical body cannot do the same things it used to do without causing me discomfort.  But inwardly, I am being renewed.  We cannot look at external things which are only temporary but to inward things which are eternal.  That is a hard thing to do at times, but it is so encouraging to know that our Lord renews us each and every day on the inside where it counts!
     Some years ago, my dear friend and fellow blogger Pat Hunter ( also went through a difficult time with her own mother who was failing physically.  She sent me a reflection from a book called "Green Winter:  Celebrations of Old Age" by Elise Maclay.  It makes you think...especially about the infirmities of the elderly.
     "In line, in the supermarket, I stood next to a young woman with a baby.
       The baby drooled, His mother smiled and wiped his mouth with a tissue.
       The baby seized the tissue and threw it to the floor.
       His mother picked it up, laughing.
       He grabbed it again and threw it under our feet.
       Again and again.
       His mother laughed.
       The baby squirmed, disarranged his clothes, grew red in the face, babbled gibberish.
       His mother cuddled him and smiled.
       Would she be so gentle, so understanding, so kind,
       To an old father, trembling, murmuring,
       Wandering in his mind?
        Am I?  To my friends who falter and fail.
       Why do the infirmities of age revolt us?
        They seem unnatural.
        We're wrong; all living things move gently toward decay.
        Is a blasted oak revolting?
        Are we afraid?  Yes.  I draw inwardly away from my failing friends because I see myself in them.
        I don't drool, but tomorrow I may.  My hands shake and I don't always catch what people say.
        Help us to be as gentle with old people as we are with infants.
        Help us to look past the tic, the tremor, the gray failed flesh the way we look past the baby's
        helplessness to see a unique self reflecting your divinity."

     This is food for thought my friends.  As the old year outwardly is passing away, inwardly it is being renewed by a new year.  The same is true for us in Christ.  Our bodies may be growing older but inwardly we are to grow in Christ.  Our Lord loves us and sees the beautiful inward person we are for all eternity.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.  Please feel free to share your comments.

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