2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day… 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.
As I played football with my 15-year-old son yesterday, I realized the narrow window of time, when I was his equal, has closed. It seems like just yesterday when I held back to let him catch me. No more. As I gasped for breath to keep up, I realized that as he gets bigger, faster and stronger, I am in decline. The ache in my legs this morning, confirms this. I am in a state of decay. Even if I live to see my life expectancy, I am over half way there.
As I contemplated this painful, beautiful passage last night, I could not help but look back on my life and ask what it has amounted to so far. Have I lived for that which truly matters, or have I spent my life on temporal, meaningless pursuits? Paul insisted on this perspective. He said that though this life, including its pains and pleasures, seems to be my greatest reality, it is not. This life is wasting away. What is seen is temporary. It is only my spirit life that is eternal and only the unseen that will last forever.
Frankly, I have regrets. When I look back, I see time and energy, wasted on temporal, destructive pursuits. I have memories stained with my drug use and the pursuit of all things me. Sure, I have done some good things. I realized early on, that I never regretted a moment that I spent with my wife or children. Still, when I take a step back, I can see that I do not want the remaining decades of my life to continue as the first four.
Paul insisted that if I want to live for that which truly matters, I must live on purpose. If I want my life to mean something and if I want to look back with fewer regrets, then I must choose now. I need to make a conscious choice to live for the eternal. This is not natural. My focus, by nature, is consumed with that which I can see. I do not naturally desire to eat healthy for the unseen tomorrow. I desire the donut that I can see right now. I do not naturally want to give my time to the neighbor struggling with addiction. I want to sit on my couch, watching football.
Faith is the paradoxical focus of my life on the unseen that truly matters. This requires continual effort and conscious choice. It is not easy or automatic. It is a daily (or many times a day) effort, choosing to pursue the God in me, instead of me.
Though I may not like to admit it, this body is decaying. At the end, will my life have been wasted? Will my life consist of my pursuit of drugs, sex and food? Or, will I be able to look back and see that I loved God, loved my neighbor and shared God with those in need?