While folding clothes today, I was dumbfounded at the condition of some of my dish towels. I received a set of beautifully embroidered dish towels, one for each day of the week, at my wedding shower. Who would have thought they would be in such bad condition after only 29 years? Actually, I’m surprised they have lasted this long in my kitchen!
One towel, especially, was showing its wear. There were a few stains from spills in the kitchen and a hole where the fabric had worn through, but the embroidery was still intact. That really surprised me. Caroline’s stitches and knots had stood the test of time and remained strong and beautiful, even though the fabric around them had not.
The condition of the towel reminded me, once again, of the disparity between the body and the soul of the believer. You see, when I look in the mirror I see the condition of this body, with many problems due to age and mistreatment. I see an excess of weight and wrinkles that came from worry and a lot of sleepless nights during years of study and then raising children. But what I see, the breakdown that has occurred over the years as a natural part of aging, is offset by something else.
In Galatians, the Apostle Paul talked about the difference between the flesh and the spirit. As fallen creatures we seek our own selfish desires and hopes, but when the renewal of the Spirit of God occurs, when we are born again through the power of Christ’s sacrifice, something amazingly wonderful happens. We begin a transformation of mind that causes us to seek God’s will in our lives. However, even with that miracle under our belts, we still tend toward the “old man,” seeking again that which benefits only ourselves.
Paul said it this way: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” (Romans 7:15, 22-23).
We want to do what is right, what pleases God, but there is something about our humanity that wears us down and seeks the wrong. This life of struggle leaves its marks upon us, evident to all around us that we struggle between flesh and spirit, between our will and God’s. As it is, this struggle brings despair and depression, but there is a bright side. Paul continues: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verses 24-25).
Even though my physical appearance bears the marks of a life that cannot continue past a certain age, the evidence of Christ’s sacrifice in my life, the redemption of my spirit by the Holy Spirit, paints a different picture. You see, whatever the world can do to me, whatever my own decisions do to me, God is greater. Whatever situation I find myself in, God is greater. Whatever choices I have made, God is greater.
Until the day when I meet Christ face to face, whether in death or in the air, I will struggle with temptation. This human body, this fabric through which God is creating a tapestry of life, shows signs of wear, but the stitches of grace and mercy that God is making in my spirit remain strong and vibrant. Others around me may see the stains and the holes caused by life, but God sees the stitches, the design He has made, and what God has done will remain.
When you look in the mirror, are you tempted to sadness for the passing of the years or the aging of your body? Don’t despair! You are not just a physical body that will age and pass on one day. No, you are much more than that. You are a spiritual being, and your spirit is eternal. What makes you who you are, that person inside, will live forever, whether with God or without God. If there is something to be concerned about, it is where that person God has called you to be will spend eternity. If you have not met Jesus Christ, if you have not asked Jesus for forgiveness and restoration, then the passing of this life will be a thing of sadness. However, when we give our lives to Christ by confessing our sins and sinfulness and receiving forgiveness by faith, through grace, we become children of God, allowing God to make a beautiful picture on this worn and tattered fabric. Take that step of faith today, and if you already have, take a moment to thank God for the picture He is making in your life.