Thou Shalt Not Grow Old

(the new criminals)

Alas, they missed the memo…

“Where there is hope there can be faith, where there is faith miracles can occur”.  This is not a scriptural quote but words of encouragement offered by Hope in a Jar, an anti-aging skin cream.   Cosmetic proverbs and youth adages are more memorable now than scriptural quotes.   Modern day testimonies do not boast of the supernatural but rather strides in fighting the natural, “…women told us their skin looked 730 days younger!”, “anti-aging transformation –  younger looking skin from 1st contact!”.   Youthfulness is the new godliness with its own set of sought after miraculous outcomes.  It is a shame to go gray, worse to go bald – to sag and wrinkle denotes failure.  In all that our culture exalts ,the preservation of youth and the ‘religion’ of self importance is the intrinsic command, Thou Shalt Not Grow Old.   Assuredly our prevailing and persuasive culture rises up in defiance  to God’s wisdom and Living Word.

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old”  (Proverbs 20:29)

God is not anti-age, He is pro-eternal.  While His good creation holds wonderful things that bring health and healing, extending youth is not a priority.  In fact, the aged are esteemed before the Lord, they are to be honored,

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”  (Leviticus 19:32)

There is no miracle in the Bible where wrinkles disappear.  That would be so far beneath the awesome power and character of God.   The miraculous intervention of God for the aged is this:  God has indwelled elderly men and moved through them – making their frail bodies powerful vessels for His honor and glory in the world.  The Lord has confounded the world and its superficial glories with His Spirit in the lives of those surrendered to Him.    At age 80, an old shepherd of flocks, Moses was called by God,

“I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

The Lord did not call Moses in the strength of his youth as he resided in the palace of Pharaoh, the epicenter of world power.  God waited until Moses was emptied of all youthful strength and bravado, all worldly resources and influences – indeed, void of inner ability that would rob God of all victorious glory.  “When I am weak, then I am strong” declared the apostle Paul (II Corinthians 12:10).  When I am weak, and dependent on the Lord for His indwelling strength and power, then I am strong – stronger than any man who depends on the power of flesh.  

The world culture continually exalts our temporal and physical life through sexuality, materialism and youthfulness –   while squelching our spiritual life into dormancy.   Jesus proclaimed the opposite as truth for life,

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.”  (John 6:63)

Looking young is not wrong, but the quest for youth will yield what counts for nothing.  In striving against old age we may miss the greatest renewal of life available to mankind, not in anti-aging,  but found only in being born again.  When we come to Christ, in repentance and surrender, His Spirit gives our spirit life, springing forth a miraculous newness.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (II Corinthians 5:17)

Through sensual displays and celebrity ideals, this  world calls us to strive and hope for the temporal –  that which counts for nothing.  A glittering facade can blind us from the Light of the World, from Whom we receive the gift of eternal life.

Thou Shalt Grow Old, and our flesh turned back to dust.  Let us not settle for “looking 760 days younger” but turn to Jesus Christ, through whom our weakness becomes strength and our death – victory.  

Does God Laugh?

brush over several cans

What we can find through any Bible concordance is this –  God laughs at His enemies. This, of course, is not funny but rather enlarges the truth that any nation or people that rise up against an almighty God are so foolhardy in doing so that it is truly laughable.

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One…The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”  (Psalm 2:2-4)

The Word of God declares here, and elsewhere, that man’s efforts to thwart God’s plans, escape His laws and judgments, are futile and vain.  Meditating on this truth will draw us further into a reverent fear and awe of God.

Not explicit in the Bible however is this: Does God have a sense of humor?  Is there ever a chuckle in a holy and awesome God?  I myself have sensed the laughter of the Lord on few occasions, most recently last week in my kitchen, as I stirred a gallon paint with chopsticks….

After 30 years, our tiny old kitchen, 12’x 8’, finally got the rehab it cried for.  I had no idea that beautiful granite, custom cabinets, and new fixtures could give me such pleasure!  Backsplash, ceramic tiles and accents all enhanced a wonderful color scheme.  However at the last touch the creative flow truly ran amuck…

“…the kitchen came out great!”  I shared, “the only task left is choosing a color for the walls.”

My co-worker shared her design secret, “Look at the granite and choose a color from it that will ‘pop out’ on the walls!”

‘Pop out’ sounded good.  Looking closely at the granite counter I could see sparse dots of blue.  “That’s it! Blue it is!”  With that contrast of color, I imagined my kitchen could impress as a sky with a rising or setting sun…

“Are you sure that’s the color you want?” asked the contractor when ordering the paint.

“Yes, it is” I confirmed.  Obviously, I thought,  contractors know little about ‘popping colors’.

When I arrived home to view my ‘sun rising kitchen’ I saw, in less than a second, that it was the worst color combination known to mankind.  All the pleasure of the kitchen was lost – I could hardly cook.  Immediate change was needed – pale yellow and fast.

Pale yellow worked well until a leak caused some damage to the ceiling and wall.  After repair, repainting was required.  Well, I figured, if pale yellow worked so well, let’s go bolder!

Paint job #3, ‘bolder yellow’, proved a mistake.  It overpowered the whole room.  I will repaint the kitchen myself, I concluded, to make this right.  ‘Tangerine Mist’ was recommended by a reliable source and I believed it –   until I painted it. At the first strokes my heart sank but I went into denial, “…this will look good once the whole kitchen is painted”.  Ha-ha.   No more sun-setting color popping bold kitchen – back to palest yellow as soon as possible.

I opened the can, color #5 and stirred with chopsticks…. “Hmm.  Actually,” I thought, “this doesn’t look like pale yellow.  Why does this look florescent?  No, it can’t be,” I decided, back in denial, “it will look good once it gets on the walls….”  While brushing and rolling I convinced myself it would look better once it dries.   After one wall I stood and stared at a yellow color that seemed to shout, “Stop! Go no further!”   Now bewildered, “How can this be?  How could one room be painted five times?”   It was not at all funny until later that night – it was hilarious.

Was God amused?  What does He – who created humor –  laugh at?  While stirring and gazing into that paint can, claiming ‘no, this is not possible’, I sensed the chuckle of God.  It might have been a hearty laugh when I stood back, with brush in hand, lamenting, “Oh no.  This even makes Tangerine Mist look good.”

Indeed the Lord holds a serious singular focus – declared from Genesis to Revelation – to reconcile and restore man unto Himself for eternity.  He opens His heart to the one surrendered, sharing from the depths of His passions – His grief, His anger, His love and mercy.  He speaks to our heart and speaks through His Word, renewing our mind and refreshing our soul.   Could laughter be one of His healing balms?  In those unexpected moments when we are surprised by humor, it may well be God laughing and inviting us in – to lift our heart, to change our view and move us forward.