I'm getting older. Don't argue with me...I shaved this morning. I looked. As if that weren't enough...I have tried to do a few things...simple things...at least they used to be...but this earth-suit [body] of mine is a mess. Let me tell you how much of a mess. In the last twenty-five years it [my earth-suit] has had triple bypass, a stroke, two heart attacks, Dupuytren Contracture, [in both hands] not to mention the knee replacement that I said no to forty years ago. Add to that the recently found compressed disks [three of them] in my neck the doctors say started with an injury I received fifty years ago [that I don't remember] that will require repair if my present program of activity [chiropractor] doesn't help. We'll see within ninety days or so. [We'll discuss the validity of chiropractic medicine some other time. If it only makes me THINK the pain is less I'll take it right now.]
All I can say is.."Thank God for the hope we have of a resurrected earth-suit changed into a heaven-suit."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. In fact, none of the before mentioned physical problems have done anything to me except make me better looking. [Older but more handsome. :)]
Seriously, I'm NOT debilitated by any of it. I walk two miles a day with my wife, Mary, long before most of you get up. I play at least five, sometimes more games of racquetball every time I step onto the court which is with some regularity. Seventy thousand miles have been put on my motorcycle since I bought it new in 1998. [I leave in a bit for the Big Bend national Park in South Texas for several days.] That ain't bad.
Then I travel a couple of times a month in church meetings where I can give the young people [that's anyone forty and above] a run for their money in anything they choose...and win most of the time. Other meetings happen also. [Next Tuesday I'm the key-note speaker at the Leadership banquet at Baylor University.]
But lately I've looked in the mirror, tried some things that I used to do with ease and simplicity, and have found I have to do it a little slower with more mental thought thrown into the mix. [What did I come to the garage for?]
You've heard it said some people are ulcer givers while others are ulcer getters. I'm the former. I've never had one. My modus operandi is to come against. That means the way I think is..."I'll show my body whose the boss"...and I generally do. That's not right. That's not wrong. That's just me. It's the way I've worked it to live life.
I will admit that much of my growing older has entailed a willingness to admit my way of coping physically, while not right or wrong, is not the best. I'm learning to NOT go against...or to translate...I don't have to prove to myself that I can...physically. There is coming a time when I have to realize I...can't. It is at that point I will have to admit my body doesn't define who I am. I've known this as a biblical truth for years but have never had to face it being applied to my own body...until now. Had I been able to apply this truth years ago it would have saved my family some fears of my perhaps dropping dead on a racquetball court, but, they've been gracious enough to let me be myself...warts and all. I hope I've been reciprocal in that.
But I'm "growing" older physically and learning some things about myself that demand I change. I want to do it gracefully, however, I have to admit...it is nothing short of a real struggle.
So much for the physical. The journey to "growing" older gracefully really finds it's struggle on the inside of me. It is an inside job. Just as I had developed coping skills and systems for my physical condition, good or bad, I've found that inside me there has been a protective way of living developed that would keep me from my worst fears. My fear [which I denied even existed for years] took the form of protection from being hurt, diminished, abandoned, and many other things that were all true in my family of origin. Not many sweet memories of encouragement, spirituality, sensitivity to the unique struggles in a child, or the other good things that we all wish to give to our children. They were practically non-existent where I came from. So what do you do? You develop a system of thinking and acting that will protect you from any further pain as described above. It may have happened then..but no more. [Don't hear blame here. Parents generally cannot be anything other when alcoholism, abandonment and abuse were their roots when THEY were children except Grace intervene.]
[By the way, a Dad in heaven led to Christ by a brother-in-law, a mother who is ninety who has come to Christ, a sister who died at forty-six as a believer, a sister and her husband, that soul-winning brother-in-law, who gave over thirty years to the mission field in Chile, a brother who was Senior Pastor and founder of a major local church, and my own fifty years of ministry, all this after a childhood was over, would testify to His Grace wouldn't you agree?]
It is that journey that I will speak of next. The walls of that inner constructed sanctuary of protection coming down inside me. It is that journey that causes the physical to pale in significance. It is that journey where the real "flesh" had to die and the "new" man come alive. It is THAT baggage that has the power to destroy relationships. How did it come tumbling down? [At least begin the process.]
I got married.
I'll tell you about it next post the Lord willing and the creek don't rise. [Or this earth-suit don't give out :)]