"[B]ut though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (II Cor. 4:16)
Have you seen those birthday cards that lament the fact that unfortunately you may have reached the age where the warranty on your body has "expired?" We laugh, but sometimes that’s just the way it feels. But never mind; as Christians, there is at least one part of us with a lifetime guarantee—longer, in fact. The Oxford English Dictionary provides a definition for the word “renew” that says it all, I think: "To make new, or as new again; to restore to the same condition as when new, young, or fresh." Works for me!
According to King David, a wrong spirit can be renewed and made right, if you’re willing to repent (Psl. 51:10); Isaiah holds out the promise of renewed strength to those who will “wait upon the Lord” (Isa. 41:31); and Paul tells us, if we’ll refuse to let the world conform us, God will transform us by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:2). But on the eve of my seventy-second birthday, it’s this verse in 2 Corinthians that’s got my attention, maybe because I'm beginning to see just how fragile" the outward man” is. You who are still young, just wait; there will come a time when the strenuous activities you’re now able to clip off in a few hours will suddenly become all-day projects!
When this truth comes again to me, I like to picture in my mind the young girl who sang at the top of her lungs at youth activities, ran like a deer when she was late for class, got up early and stayed up late; and, in general, felt there was little in life beyond her reach. I picture her, because, after all, she's still there—that same happy, young girl who loved God with all her heart. Though the outward woman may be perishing, the real she is being renewed…day by day. I used to love to hear my first pastor, now in Glory, quote this sweet poem. And it means even more to me now.
Not Growing Old
They say that I am growing old!
I’ve heard them tell it times untold
In language plain and bold —
But, I’m not growing old.
This frail old shell in which I dwell
Is growing old, I know full well,
But I am not the shell.
What if my hair is turning gray?
Gray hairs are honorable, they say.
What if my eyesight’s growing dim?
I still can see to follow Him
Who sacrificed His life for me
Upon the Cross of Calvary.
What should I care if time’s old plow
Has left its furrows on my brow?
Another house, not made with hand,
Awaits me in the Glory Land.
What though I falter in my walk?
What though my tongue refuse to talk?
I still can tread the narrow way,
I still can watch and praise and pray.
My hearing may not be as keen
As in the past it may have been,
Still, I can hear my Savior say,
In whispers soft, “This is the way.”
The outward man, do what I can
To lengthen out this life’s short span,
Shall perish, and return to dust,
As everything in nature must.
But the inward man, the Scriptures say,
Is growing stronger every day.
Then how can I be growing old,
When safe within my Saviors fold?
Ere long my soul shall fly away
And leave this tenement of clay.
This robe of flesh, I’ll drop and rise,
To seize the everlasting prize,
I’ll meet you on the streets of gold,
And prove that I’m not growing old!
— John E. Roberts