Sunday, October 31, 2010

Treasures in jars of clay

NOTE: This is the final installment of a seven-part series on AGING WITH GRACE.
So we have this treasure in jars of clay. – 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)
Every day we’re urged to be one of the “beautiful people.” TV ads advise us to purchase expensive exercise equipment. Ever notice that the men and women demonstrating how easy it is to lose weight don’t have to? Look at the covers of women’s magazines as you stand in line at the checkout counter, and you’ll see the titles of the articles inside deal with basically the same topics: “Watch those pounds melt off” (yeah, right) or “Eat all the chocolate you want and still lose weight” (in your dreams) or “Beauty Makeovers” (why does it never happen to me?).
If having an attractive, sleek body is what being beautiful is all about, how, then, can you be beautiful in your senior years, when your body is slowly, as Paul put it two millennia ago, “wasting away”? When this “jar of clay” lets you down. When your energy wanes, and you can’t do as much as you used to. When reading glasses are a necessary part of your wardrobe. When you have to watch what you eat because certain foods will haunt you in the middle of the night. When every year you not only celebrate your birthday, but you mark the breakdown of one more part of you.

Or is beauty something deeper – an inner radiance that shows on your face and in your behavior and attitude? A zest for life that can’t be quenched.
People who possess this quality energize everyone they meet. I once knew a man who went deep sea fishing when he was in his 90s. He lived full tilt, gardening, canning, baking bread, selling homegrown blueberries and locally produced chocolate candy. I used to tease him that he thought the speed limit was his age. But he loved people and he loved life. His body was aging, but his spirit was beautiful. 
This,then, is the fifth secret to aging with grace: Enthusiasm – possessing a spirit of excitement that enables you to face each day, each thing you do, with eagerness, interest and energy.
While we have little, if any, control over the aging process, enthusiasm is something we can cultivate. The word itself comes from a Greek word that means to be “inspired” and “possessed by a god.” The Bible tells us to be enthusiastic all that we do: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Whatever you do, work at with all your heart” (Colossians 3:23).
The key to having enthusiasm is to give yourself daily to the one and only God. His Spirit living within you gives you eternal life, inspires you, and fills you with eagerness, excitement and energy. The Spirit of God is the treasure you carry in your jar of clay. 
Thank you, God, for those people I meet that brighten my day with their enthusiasm. Fill me with Your Spirit so that my excitement for living will energize and encourage those around me. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:6

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