If I Could Turn Back Time…Forever Young…I’m Not Gonna Grow Old… Seventeen Forever…Young and Beautiful
Recognize any of the above titles? These are just a few of the many songs that describe youth and longevity.
Pictured above is the Sheringham Point Lighthouse. It is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Built in 1912, following the fatal wreck of the SS Valencia six years earlier, it stands 64 feet tall and it is still used for navigation. But like many of its counterparts, there was a time when its light stopped shining. The lighthouse was originally equipped with a 3rd Order Fresnel lens illuminated by an oil lamp (later changed to an electric lamp). It was automated during the 1980s and was finally de-staffed in 1989.
Without the proper maintenance and upkeep, it wasn’t long before the Sheringham Light succumbed to the elements. Its original coat of paint along with its crystal clear lantern windows and shiny metal copula began to fade and deteriorate. Regarded as an “excess to its program,” the Canadian government began plans for its disposition. As a result, a group of locals formed the “Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society” in order to protect it and conserve it for future generations. In late 2015 and after a few years of fundraising and lobbying to keep it from being torn down, lost to neglect, or sold off, the society was notified that legal title to the lighthouse would be transferred to them for ongoing conservation. The restoration work began in the Fall of 2016 and by the time of its completion in 2018, the Sheringham Point Light had undergone an extreme makeover.
In addition to a great number of songs, there are also infomercials, publications, billboard ads, and even seminars about staying young and living longer. According to the latest report (July 2019), the beauty industry is worth $532 billion and the global fitness and health club industry generates more than $80 billion in revenue per year!
“Oh, I wish I was young again when everything was so wonderful.” -Betty Smith
There are countless products and regimens marketed to help delay or even reduce the effects of aging. However, regardless of the medical and technological advances available or yet to be discovered, we were NOT born to live forever, at least not in this mortal body. And as far as the fountain of youth is concerned, well let’s just say that the story/legend of such a place has been recounted across the world for thousands of years but it is yet to be found. Although I swear that one of my fellow co-workers who is close to retirement, he looks no older than 30, seems to have found it and is keeping it a secret!
“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” -Samuel Ullman
Let’s be honest, most of us have agreed with Cher at least a couple of times and wondered, “If [we] could turn back time.” But this most likely didn’t happen until we noticed that our bodies had shape-shifted and the mirror revealed furrows and sags that weren’t there the day before. No sooner than later, many of us find ourselves spending at least 20% of our salary on creams, serums, vitamins, gym memberships, and anything that can take us back to the yesteryears when we looked and felt younger.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” -Abraham Lincoln
Because we live in a society that is obsessed with self and with physical attractiveness, we are unconsciously driven to fear and avoid aging. We fight wrinkles, gray hair, hair loss, and extra pounds. We focus every effort on staying young and vigorous and sometimes regardless of the cost. But what does the Bible say about physical beauty, being young, and growing old? How should we deal with it? Here are a few verses to ponder.
Proverbs 31:30 (NLT)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last, but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
While qualities such as a good personality and physical attractiveness are worthy of admiration, they can be deceiving. That’s because hypocrisy and makeup are twins. They both do wonders as cover ups. However, those whose character is shaped by their genuine love for and obedience to God can and will stand out in a crowd without any need for outward glamour.
2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Adolescence and young adulthood come with more than just rights and opportunities. They are also accompanied by new freedoms and natural desires that if left unrestrained can cause long-term physical, emotional, and even spiritual damage. So, it would behoove us as mature Christians to encourage our children to focus on what truly matters while they are still developing physically and spiritually.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 (ESV)
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
Ahh, to be young again, independent, and carefree. Even when raised in a morally stable home, it’s easy to get entangled by the ear and eye candies of this world. Our youth need to be reminded of God’s omnipresence in their daily lives (conversations, actions, and thoughts) so that if/when they get over-the-hill they may look back with more gratitude than regret.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
But what about when we start losing skin elasticity, muscle tone, and melanin? What if we want to look good or at least presentable, is that bad? Well, not necessarily, as long as we remind ourselves of the same advice we give our young people; “True beauty lies within.” Nothing adorns a person’s life more attractively than a heart that has been transformed by the fruits of God’s Spirit. We would be less stressed and save money if we focused more on this timeless truth.
Job 12:12 ESV
Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
Each day is precious, no matter how many of them God grants us. One of the benefits of old age is the lifetime of knowledge and experience that comes along with it. It is a priceless privilege to seek and receive counsel from those who possess practical and spiritual acumen. The kind that comes, not from books or lectures, but from trial and error, perseverance, and longsuffering.
Psalm 103:14,15 (ESV)
[The righteous] still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
And yes, even when the years pin us down and rob us of our youth, we can still be useful and fruitful. We can effectively contribute to society in pragmatic ways as long as we can communicate. Yet the most meaningful and beneficial thing we can offer to others is a verbal declaration of God’s faithfulness. One that is supported by a living testimony.
Ezequiel 28:17 (ESV)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
But the day WILL come. If Jesus tarries and we are not transformed while still alive, we will eventually descend to the depths of the earth and return to (dust) where we came from. This means that no matter how much we buff and shine, pull and stretch, cover up and adorn, this physical body will deteriorate and cease to exist. However, those who strive in becoming more like Christ rather than looking like models on magazine covers or digital screens, are experiencing a daily makeover that is preparing their spiritual bodies to walk down the golden runway of heaven!
We may undergo makeovers like the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, and so many others, but we will inevitably have to succumb to mortality. And since we will never outlast lighthouses, the oldest (active) one is over 400 years old, I encourage you to focus more on your inner body and make sure you nourish, exercise and adorn it with the eternal and life-transforming Word of God. In its pages, you’ll find refreshing, renewal, and eternal life. So, read it, meditate on it and live it.
“…self-care will only take you so far. Eventually what you really need is some good soul care.” -Insanitybytes2
Prayer: Eternal God, Father, and Creator, it was your will that I come into the world. You brought me forth with a purpose and have kept me to this day in order for me to fulfill it. Thank you for the years you have given me. Strengthen me and let my life be a testimony of your grace so that I may continue to shine your light, especially to the younger generation that needs guidance through the rough seas of life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
Self Care vs. God Care by Insanitybytes2