Our kitchen curtains need replacing. My wife estimates that they are around twenty years old. She made them when we lived in Bloomington. They were fashioned from material used in a “Cowboy” VBS. They are “Western”-themed, with images of wagon-wheels and grain sacks. One look at them hanging in their assigned location brings to mind the “chuck-wagon” days of old.
But these kitchen curtains don’t need to be replaced simply because they are old, wrinkled or stained. That’s one of the lies of this modern age to say that “New & Improved” is always better than “Old, Proven & Reliable.” Oft time the wrinkles and spots of old age bring with them tales of life fully lived and lessons well learned.
No, our curtains need replacing because the are, in fact, worn out. On their most recent trip through the washing and drying machines their abundant “thin spots” gave way resulting in numerous holes and tears. They can no longer function as curtains with all of those fresh openings letting in the light.
As I write this, I am getting older also. I’ve outlasted those curtains by two and a half times their age. This month I turn fifty. Yes, I said it. There’s no use hiding. Besides, like those curtains, my age is showing. I’ve given up on pulling the grey hairs. They’re coming in too quickly now. Each morning brings a fresh set of aches and pains reminding me of the prior day’s activities. And if you want to hear some tales of lessons well learned, just ask; but speak up! The hearing’s not quite what it used to be either.
As I reflect on aging, I’m reminded of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. In that letter, just after he writes about the God who brought Light from darkness placing that Light as a treasure with our “jars of clay;” Paul writes about the afflictions of aging using these words:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
I take heart in several details from that text. First, what we can see on the outside isn’t always, if ever, a true reflection of what’s going on within. Second, the afflictions of today (described as light and momentary) are transient. We fix our eyes upon the unseen, eternal and glorious.
So, what more can I say? When it seems as if the wagon wheels are falling off and the feed bags have holes in them all over the place, what’s really happening – spiritually – is that God is allowing the Light – that treasure which He has placed within you – to shine through. That’s not a bad thing, after all. Is it?
Praying with you over spots, wrinkles and grey hairs: Don’t lose heart!