I was video-taping messages about upcoming events at our church. One person wrote and suggested filming future messages from above so people would not see the sags and wrinkles around my chin and neck. “What sags? What wrinkles?” Then I looked in the mirror. “Oh! Those!

Young or old, God made us each unique: Some are athletic, some 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. 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)

Our bodies do not belong to ourselves; they belong to God. How well are you honoring God through the body you were given? This is not about our appearance but about our readiness to serve. How are you using the gifts and resources God gave you? How well is the church helping you 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 I have all the answers to good health. I confess to a severe weakness for ice cream and anything that contains chocolate, nuts or caramel. Exercise does not excite me. I don’t get enough sleep. I certainly should heed my own advice and take better care of my temple. Recent heart problems were a stark reminder that good health should never be taken for granted. When your health is bad, it becomes more difficult to think of anything besides your immediate health needs. Serving God can easily take second place to serving me: feed me, heal me, take care of me.

But we are not called by God to focus on ourselves. We are called to make a difference in the lives of others. The trouble starts when we don’t take care of the “Temple” God provides. I needed to change and start making better choices.

• Better choices on food: Less salt and sugar, more water less coffee, more fruit and vegetables less meat.
• Better choices about exercise. I’m learning to 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.

Good Health cannot be taken for granted. But what about the times when we are not blessed with good physical or mental 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.

• 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.

Paul writes: “We have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. Our 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. We get knocked down, but 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. Storms and earthquakes may damage but we are never 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 God-given 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 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. Natural disasters may damage us, but we are never destroyed. That is the promise of God. Praise God!