We were recently at a Trade Days flea market, and Kevin stopped in front of a booth selling all different types of gloves. He had been looking for a good pair of work gloves to replace some that had served him well for years, but finally just played out. He tried several on, and eventually landed on a real contender, easing the snug leather over his hands, enjoying the smooth feel.
I thought about his old gloves. They had looked just like these when he first got them. No blemishes or stains. No stretching or wrinkles. No punctures or tears. But after years of being pressed into service, and called to many an abusive situation, they had been pushed to the limit. When they finally could do their job no more, he pulled his hands out of them for the last time and talked about how good they’d been.
You know, we go into a transaction like this, the purchase of something from which we know we’ll ask a lot, with the understanding that it will, over time, start to change and break down. We do what we can to take care of it, of course, maybe oiling the leather to keep it supple, or storing it where it’s dry and out of the weather. But still, we know we’ll expose it to some pretty harsh stuff, so when it changes, yet still hangs in there, we admire it all the more. This thing we own has gumption. It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.’ (To younger readers: that’s a reference to an old Timex watch commercial. An actual analog watch. Google it.)
However, this is what I find interesting: We don’t seem to view our own bodies with this same type of respect.
Our souls are knitted inside a smooth and flawless skin. No blemishes or stains. No stretching or wrinkles…punctures or tears. They are exposed to all the elements, frozen or burned. They get scraped up and broken. Gravity pulls against them for years and years until suddenly they succumb to the force and begin to stretch and sag. Half of us push babies out of them and into the world, stretching things in a different way. Just from being in the world as it is today, our bodies lay victim to chemicals and toxins, and endure some by our very own hand. They spend years and years in tireless service, protecting our souls and carrying all the inner things that makes us, us, and yet, when they begin to show signs of it, we don’t want to accept it. We get upset that they don’t look the way they used to, as if we, ourselves, are different people because of it. Instead of looking at them with admiration for how well they’ve served us, and seeing lines and wrinkles and scars as signs of overcoming and a life well-lived, we get caught up in thinking they ARE us.
Our body is an amazing ‘glove’ of skin. It is entrusted to us to give our souls a place to live, and as a tool for our Jesus to use as He takes up residence in our hearts. They are made to be used well, and we ARE to take good care of them, treating them with respect and keeping them in the best condition possible so they’ll endure and be able to do what we were placed on this earth to do. But they are not us. One day they will give out and our souls will quietly slip out of them, just like hands from a well-worn glove.
While I might be tempted today to look in the mirror and grimace over a saggy this, or a wrinkled that, I’m going to choose to be thankful that my body is well. That it’s hung in with me for almost 50 years, even though I’ve been hard on it and haven’t always taken the best care of it. And one day, when I quietly step out of it and into the sublime fit of a brand new one, I’d like to glance back at it in admiration and say that it not only served me well, but maybe had a little gumption, to boot.
“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 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13 ESV
Well said! Inner beauty is the only beauty that really counts and lasts a lifetime!!