by Claudia Mitchell
I recently caught a glimpse of myself on one of those high definition big screen televisions. It threw me into what my grandmother would call “a tizzy.” It was then that I decided to run to the nearest department store and buy something to hide, mask, condition, moisturize, highlight, exfoliate, wrap, cover, fill, line, lift, repair, firm or otherwise restore immediately! As I approached the cosmetic counter the beautiful, no wrinkles, manicured, twenty-something lady flashed her veneered white teeth at me and asked, “May I help you?” I did not scream, but I felt like it.
I recently read an article that said after age thirty we lose tens of thousands of brain cells everyday. I am wasting away at an alarming rate! I ventured out to spend thirty dollars of my grocery money and bought a product that promised to “remove dark circles and under eye puffiness” overnight. The next morning I was out thirty dollars and still had the puffy eyes with dark circles staring back at me from the bathroom mirror.
That day my quiet time was on 2 Corinthians 4:16. Paul begins the passage with the word “Therefore”. Whenever Paul begins with that word you know something profound is coming. He used “therefore” 12 times in this letter alone, a letter that wasn’t written to us but was most certainly written for us. Paul continues to write, “Do not lose heart.” But then the “therefore” whammy – “Though outwardly we are wasting away.” Relevant Magazine says that many of us are losing heart. The May/June 2009 issue reports that more than 67 million Americans have taken antidepressants. Hundreds of thousands of prescriptions are written annually for depression. Preschoolers are the fastest growing market for antidepressants. Paul says, “Don’t lose heart friends, don’t lose heart”. Paul understands the wasting away feeling. He experienced great suffering, persecution, and opposition in his ministry.
What is it in your life that gives you that “wasting away” feeling? Sometimes in children’s ministry, week after week of serving, staffing, setting up and tearing down can lead to that very wasting away feeling Paul speaks about. It can sneak up and attack without warning. The high definition big screen contributed to my “wasting away” thinking and I was stuck in that thinking. After reading this scripture, I began to see everything in a different perspective. It reminds me of a moment with my friend Cindy. We were drinking coffee and looking out the picture window of my log cabin. I wanted to hide my eyes as we looked at my yard; I saw a Mountain Dew can, a turned upside down red wagon, weeds, a sock on the tire swing, some unknown piece of an animal body part the dog had deposited on the porch, all viewed through fingerprints on the window! Embarrassed, I glanced at Cindy as she said in almost a whisper, “How beautiful your yard looks! It’s like a state park. Look! Do you see the indigo bunting?” We’re we looking at the same yard? So often I focus on the fingerprints that mess up the window and miss the beauty right before my eyes.
Paul continued to encourage those of us who get stuck in the outwardly stuff, to think differently. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:12-16)
Paul is talking about how what we see outwardly is temporary. It is what is inside that will last forever. Yahoo!! As each one of those little brain cells dies, something inside us is fresh and new, spilling out with hope and energy. No matter what seems to be “outwardly wasting away,” be it sickness, pain, worry, a failed marriage, a lost child, or even wrinkles and a few extra pounds. What is inside Christ followers is being transformed. We are being transformed! How spectacular! When we understand that we are being renewed day by day and fix our eyes, not on the fingerprints but on the beauty of God’s artistry, it changes us. We become people who can say with Paul, “So whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life”. (Philippians 3:10) When this new life bubbles up it changes the world. Every place we walk will spring up with new life. Every thing we touch will be fresh and new. Every word we speak will bring hope to a dry and thirsty world.
Personally, I am going to try to slow down the “wasting away” of the outside stuff just a little bit. I will cover the gray, slap on some moisturizer, and watch the carbs as I grab my highlighter and mark this scripture truth from Paul to keep my focus on highlights of the eternal kind!
Claudia Mitchell has served in Children’s Ministry for years and is currently serving as the Women’s Minister at her church. She is co-author of One Girl Can Change the World by Standard Publishing and is one of three women in ministry presenting at the 2010 CPC conference with the Women in Ministry workshop.