I started regularly video-taping a short message about upcoming events at our church to post online. Feedback was mostly positive except for one “friend” who suggested I purchase a tripod and film future messages from above so people would not see the sags and wrinkles around my chin and neck.
“What?” I thought. “What sags? What wrinkles?” Then I looked in the mirror. “Oh! Those! I have a lot of them!” Yep – I’m old and have the body to prove it: wrinkles, sags and all.
God made us each unique: Some are athletic, some are not. Some healthy, some not. Some skinny. Some not. But all of us are beautiful, inimitable, creations of God designed with a purpose. God provided our bodies to better serve that purpose.
In a letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul wrote: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 19-20)
As Temples, our bodies do not belong to ourselves as much as they belong to God. How well are you honoring God through the Temple you were given? So, this is not as much about our bodies and appearance as it is about our readiness to serve. How active are you in using the gifts God has given you in service of God? How well is the church helping you and others care for your temple, your body? How well is your church actively helping those who struggle with limitations and illness?
As you read this, please don’t think that I have become a super health advocate. I confess to a severe weakness for ice cream and anything that contains chocolate, nuts or caramel. Exercise does not excite me, I work long hours and don’t get enough sleep so I definitely need to take better care of my temple.
My recent heart problems offered a stark reminder that good health should never be taken for granted. Severe illness encourages selfish behavior. For me, thoughts of serving God were replaced by self-concerns: feed me, heal me, take care of me. Everything was about me.
But I was not called by God to a life focused on me. Something needed to change. Part of that change was a conscious decision to make better choices when it came to taking care of my temple, my body.
- Better choices when eating: Less salt and sugar, more water and less coffee, more fruit and vegetables and less meat. Nothing complicated but better choices day by day.
- Better choices about exercise. I’m learning to exercise more, walk more and sit less.
- Better choices about sleep – My poor sleeping habits can cause serious damage.
- Better choices dealing with stress – I brag about being a workaholic but there are consequences, mentally, socially, and to my temple. Reducing stress is critical.
Good Health is something I no longer assume. I learned to appreciate what God provides and try to make better choices each day. But what about the times when you and I are not blessed with good physical health? So many people struggle with handicaps and illnesses of every kind. However, rather than be defeated by poor health, many people have made and still make courageous choices that inspire us.
- The Apostle Paul had a Thorn in the flesh he struggled with as he helped others.
- Joni Eareckson Tada is a paraplegic but has become a famous painter, speaker and author.
- Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs and many times contemplated suicide but instead became a motivational speaker and You Tube inspirational sensation.
The Apostle Paul writes: “We have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
- We have a light shining in our hearts… speaks to the amazing power of God within us.
- We are like fragile clay jars… our bodies, our temples are flawed.
- But our jars contain great treasure…. God gives us amazing power within.
Here is the best part. Because we have a light shining in our hearts; because our jars contain a great treasure; we may be pressed by troubles but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; hunted down but never abandoned; knocked down but not destroyed.
Our suffering allows us to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be seen.
So, the lesson is more about making better choices with what God has given us and to know there is a power within us far greater than our fragile jars, our bodies, our temples.
Can we embrace our situation as it is and take the opportunity serve God as we are? Being willing to embrace is not giving up or giving in, it’s more like taking on a new challenge but more suited to our current situation. Learning to embrace is a reminder that you may be pressed by troubles but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, hunted down but never abandoned, knocked down but not destroyed.
A farmer pointed out a cluster of trees planted to fence in a pasture. What was amazing was how each tree adapted to the barbed wire that was hammered into their tender bark. Some fought. Others adapted. One tree was severely disfigured by the wire. Another tree showed no marks at all.
Like the trees, our bodies, our temples are like fragile clay jars but inside there is an amazing treasure, a light provided by God, shining in our hearts. Like the trees enduring barbed wire, there are troubles but we are not crushed. At times we are perplexed but we can choose to not be driven to despair. We may be knocked down but we will not be destroyed. That is the promise of God for each of us. Praise God!