"So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day." - 2 Corinthians 4:16
I once said something in a sermon about getting older. I was thirty-four at the time. After the service, a woman far more seasoned in life than I, said to me, "Honey, I got shoes older than you!"
Eleven years later, I'm less inclined to talk about aging, but I do know this: we are not so much afraid of getting old as of feeling old, or worse, looking old. Hence our billion dollar industries offering lotions and potions, diets and drugs, nips and tucks to hide or delay the inevitable. Some of those things are worthwhile, but the hard truth is we are less and less young every day.
The Apostle Paul had the gall to preach: "As our bodies wither on the outside, we become increasingly beautiful on the inside." I just hope he was older than thirty-four when he said it. Paul's point, I think, is this: growing old slowly erodes what makes us feel strong, independent and in control until we are utterly dependent on God and on the care of others.
Embracing our mortality and depending on God is not easy. It also accounts for 110% of the spiritual journey. It was that way for Jesus as he walked faithfully toward his death in his early thirties, and so it is for each of us.
God of the ages and of the aged, while my outer nature wastes away, may my inner life be renewed day by day, until I shine like the Son.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.