Renewal (Message to Nursing Home Residents later this afternoon)
Sometimes we are forced to agree with Samuel Butler, “Life is one long process of getting tired.” The apostle Paul has a bit of a different perspective in the book of 2 Corinthians, chapter four, verses 16-18: “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.”
We Need to Focus on God’s Internal Work
- Our culture focuses so much on the external. Watch an hour of TV, see how many commercials emphasize beautiful bodies, cosmetics, fashions, hair restoration, anti-aging techniques, etc. We’re obsessed with the physical!
- God doesn’t want us to go there; and, as we get older, the techniques work less and less anyway. He wants us to be internally changed, inwardly renewed, focused on the development of our spirit, heart, mind. When we become Christians, we are recreated, made new. Romans 12:2 reminds us that we need to avoid conforming to the world’s values, but be renewed in our minds. God’s word renews us, prayer renews us, thinking through those things that are “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” renews us.
We Need to Focus on God’s Eternal Work
- By nature, we are such worriers. We worry about our health – about how we look or what people will think of us – about where our money will come from - about success – we worry about family relationships – if it has any importance at all, we will worry about it. And that worry brings us down, affects our mindset, affects our health.
- Now we’re older. We can look back at things that we once worried about, and wonder why we worried. Our worry didn’t change the situation. God got us through. Time changes our perspective.
- Paul suffered through years of persecution and poor health, yet he called these “light and momentary”. He wasn’t diminishing the severity of the problems, rather, he was taking the long view, God’s view, knowing that his “now” problems would diminish in the light of eternity. If you are a believer, your “now” problems (as well as past) will diminish as you take God’s viewpoint – realizing that these problems will pass, and that they will be used by Him in the accomplishment of His will anyway.
We Need to Focus on God’s Invisible Work
- Our eyes have been called “the windows of our soul”. What we see greatly affects us. Think about the beauty of a flower, of Sherburne Refuge, of the Grand Canyon. Think about how you react to this room, your room, your environment. Think about how your inner person relates to a tragedy on TV – say, the recent airplane crash, or wartime pictures. We react to what we see.
- Our soul also has spiritual, invisible eyes. Our faith, our imaginations can visualize God at work. We can believe His promises to us, and sometimes catch Him in action. So often He works behind the scenes, so quietly, yet if we watch carefully, a pattern emerges, a pattern that shows His hand in our and others’ lives. In addition, there is a whole heavenly component that He shares in scripture – we need to apply our faith/imagination eyes to that as well. The invisible is at least as important – and often more important – than the visible.
- So, we need renewal. If we take the appropriate steps with our internal lives – if we focus on the eternal and invisible – we will experience that renewal, even as we are outwardly wasting away. We need not lose heart!