In the opening pages of my novel Fallen, God crafts the universe and creates a man and a woman in His own image. In this story of life, death, and the beginning, the imagined emotions, conversations, and descriptions of the first man and woman transport us to the Garden of Eden.
Rising from the dust, the man examines the mechanics of his body, and when God later leads the woman to him, the two admire God’s handiwork with innocent joy in all that transpires when boy meets girl.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and our souls know it well!
None of us today were crafted from the malleable clay of the earth, or from the flesh and bone of the first human being. Rather we were interwoven from a unique combination of our first parents’ delicate DNA passed down to us. For generations God has formed us within our mothers’ wombs.
There is no doubt that God is an artist. Simply look at the human body. Gaze upon a newborn, and be amazed.
And yet in comparison to what we will one day be, our bodies now are mere jars of clay, temporary tents. We are naked compared to what we will become when Christ completes the metamorphosis.
Our bodies were created for a temporal time and place, a world that ticks off sixty minutes an hour, twenty-four hours a day, and 365-1/4 days a year. A finite world. A world where sin and death reign. God knew our story before He even began His creation work, and so He designed our bodies for this sphere.
Our souls, on the other hand, are eternal. Once created by God, they live on. Our bodies are merely temporary containers for our immaterial selves. Theologically, death occurs when the soul/spirit leaves the body. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
To refine us, God often works upon our bodies – allowing pain and suffering. Our bodies house our souls and thus impact our inner growth. When He works upon our souls, our bodies are likewise impacted, responding with sleepless nights and/or joyous leaps. This gives testimony to God’s work in us.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
The Artist reveals Himself in His work. He isn’t done yet. Our bodies are as fragile as unfired pottery, easily shattered. Our spirits are embodied in weak flesh made of dust, and to dust they shall return. Therefore, while our souls are encased in this temporary shelter, we groan.
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked” (2 Corinthians 5:1-3).
We are restricted by our bodies, and we know it. These bodies slow us down, prohibiting us from accomplishing what our spirits long to do. As Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Our flesh needs sleep, falls apart, and grows weaker as we age. We fade. Our bodies die. We feel it every day.
Because our bodies are temporary, when aging or disease or tragedy damages or destroys them, we must let them go, rejoicing rather than weeping when we gaze upon the carnage, for the wreckage of our bodies brings us closer to Christ. His Spirit is within our frames, a downpayment, guaranteeing what is to come.
Like Paul, we can say, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-9).
This is the cry of my heart and my life. To mourn the decay of my body through this autoimmune disorder is shortsighted, demonstrating that my view is fixed on the temporal. Like you, I need eyes that fasten upon the eternal and a heart that chooses to keep my focus there.
George Frideric Handel penned Messiah, quoting Job’s confidence and Paul’s description of the coming resurrection of these frail bodies. He wrote, “I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. I know that my Redeemer liveth, for now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep.”
Christ went first. The eternal is promised and beckoning. Because this is true, the end of my body is not the end.
The Creator has made us a little lower than the angels, yet He crowned us with glory and honor and put everything under our feet. Our minds need not focus on earthly things, for “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
We can only imagine the glory that awaits us when His work on our frames is complete, and we are like Him!