This month, I have another birthday coming up, which doesn’t bother me (most of the time). After all, age is relative, right? In our culture, depending on what you eat, how much you exercise, and the creams you put on your face, 60 can look 40. And vice versa: those that smoke, do drugs, and avoid water and exercise can look way over the hill (and down the other side), when they haven’t even hit 35.
I confess that I love to exercise: biking, kickboxing, dance, and even just walking. I feel better physically and emotionally. But I’ve noticed that sometimes the discipline of the act can teeter over into obsession. I worry about the five extra pounds I gained and whether my arms are getting flabby. I stress if I miss a day and try to compensate the next. Part of the struggle comes from my metabolism slowing down, part comes from my love of pie. But either way, I endeavor to stay fit.
Our society loves lean and glamorous. But sadly, it promotes youthful appearance over wisdom. Timeless beauty over brains. And somehow, I think we’ve managed to contemplate our work-out routine, supplements, and healthcare products more than we contemplate our spiritual condition. Because no matter how much you “slow down” the aging process, we all still die. And we need to know where we are going and why we are here.
We’ve replaced the eternal for the temporal, focusing more on that which fades than that which lasts.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” I Timothy 4:8
Philip Yancey says “we stop at the skin instead of going deeper, into the soul. The human person is worth preserving. And yet, in the end, the health club stands as a pagan temple. Its members strive to preserve only one part of the person: the body, the least enduring part of all” (Finding God in Unexpected Places).
Perhaps we haven’t uncovered the fountain of youth, but we’ve certainly tried to fill in the well of mortality, denying death exists or even effects us.
Therefore, the question shouldn’t be, “How do I look?” but “How am I doing?“
How is my heart and spirit?
Am I disciplining my mind as much as my body?
Do my thoughts rest in eternity or in the temporary and material?
Am I healthy so I can be more useful to the Kingdom of God? Or is it all for my own sense of self-worth and independence?
What should I be spending more time doing (and less time elsewhere)?
If your sense of comfort, identity, security, or pride are attached to how healthy, strong, or lean you are, perhaps you need to reassess your priorities.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” ( I Samuel 16:7 emphasis mine)