Forever Young

Something about a Christian never grows old. The dear Word of God says so. "...though our outward person is decaying yet the inward spirit is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16b). That which is renewed every day can never grow old.

What then of this process of renewal? Is it voluntary or involuntary, universal or selective? And how is it accomplished?

Again the blessed Text informs us. "Be not fashioned according to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is." Transformation by renewal of mind sounds like a choice to dig deep into God's Book to ascertain His will for us. We must choose the course that transforms our lives and renews our mind (inward person) day by day. And not just a few highly favored Christians are so blessed. Indeed, Paul enjoins the choice of constant renewal on every Christian and prays fervently that God will grant that we be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner person that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, being rooted and grounded in love and able to comprehend with all the saints the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with the fullness of God (Paraphrase of Eph. 3:16-19).

The picture then of the inner being growing and flourishing and maturing, nurtured by the very Spirit Himself, is in stark contrast to the outward person that is destined to undergo a process of decay and death. It is a strange and beautiful paradox that while the outward person is at full physical functioning for all to see, the spirit may be feeble but growing unseen. Then as we search the Scriptures daily to find God's will for us, and live lives transformed by what we find there, the inner person is renewed, refreshed and flourishes. As time goes by and the body grows weak and weary, the inner being grows stronger and stronger reaching for the fullness of God in Christ Jesus - which is a perfect illustration that the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

But if this bold premise be true - that Christians need never grow old inwardly - then why the lackluster spirit that so often characterizes so many of us as our bodies show signs of aging and slowing down? We act as if the whole operation shuts down simultaneously: body, soul and spirit. And that is the easy way to go: it explains lack of activity, lack of involvement and lack of responsibility for continued growth. And it is a sad fact that what doesn't grow does indeed die. But the Bread of Life and the Fountain of Living Water will keep the Christian's spirit forever young and vibrant - alive and well - until he gets home.

Can you see Caleb's flashing eyes as he asked for a mountain to subdue on his eighty-fifth birthday? What spirit! Physically, he might have been hard put to accomplish the feat (but he said he was as strong as ever); the important thing, it seems to me, is that he thought he could do it, and he wanted a chance to try. He was ready for the challenge with a spirit that burned brightly in spite of an aging body. During the forty-five years since God called him into active service, something had sustained Caleb inwardly. Faith, hope, energy, enthusiasm, all were present in abundance. Do you think it might have been that he had walked with God during those four and a half decades and had his spirit nourished daily by this loving association?

As Christians get nearer home, eyes of faith ought to see more clearly, steps ought to quicken and hearts grow lighter as we envision the place prepared for us: so wonderful that eyes have not seen nor ears heard the wonders of it. And the joy and excitement of anticipation ought to power every day with exultation. How can we allow ourselves to grow drabby and draggy with such promises in view?

This type of slowing down and giving up not only cheats ourselves, but what kind of advertisement are we to those who are not so far along life's way? What if they are asking themselves if a life of faith really pays off? Or if it can hold out to the end? An aging Christian can help or hinder with answers to those questions by the condition of his spirit. If it is vibrant, enthusiastic and growing in grace and knowledge - it's a big plus for influencing the ones who are following. If it's flagging and dragging, tired and just marking time, then it burdens young Christians, and they must wonder how a life lived for Christ can end up so joyless.

The adjectives that describe an aging body ought not - and need not - describe a Christian's inner being, no matter how many summers and winters he's seen. Enthusiasm that belongs to youth, hope that grows brighter with the years, and a deeper love for people as we sense Christ's great love for us, ought to characterize a spirit renewed daily by His grace. Old, tired, weary, feeble, worn out, ready to die, may describe the outward person accurately, but the glowing, growing, ever-renewed inner being of a child of God cannot be thusly described. He is poised for flight and will go home in the full strength of youth, praise God!

Aline Edson

Published in The Old Paths Archive (http://www.oldpaths.com)