I glanced in the mirror the other day after a shower; that was a bad idea. All I saw was skin, bones, and a little bit of muscle. I have lost fifty pounds over the past four months. ALS has affected my muscle mass so that I resemble a prisoner of war. And sadly, the deterioration of my body means that, due to ALS, I cannot do many of the simple joys of life. No more eating tasty burgers or steak. No more walking outside on a spring or autumn day (I have been having dreams of running and walking). No more teaching. No more writing notes. No more guitar playing and singing. No more fluid conversations. No more shooting rifles or pistols. “No more” seems to be life’s theme these days.
The apostle Paul said to the first century Corinthians, “Don’t you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” I can’t help but think about King Solomon’s glorious temple and how the Lord inhabited it. Then, due to man’s sinfulness, the temple was destroyed around 587 BC by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah, the prophet, laments Jerusalem’s destruction, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations!”
So, I was standing there lamenting the destruction of my body, an earthly temple of the Holy Spirit. Before I could slip into depression, I thought about Zerubbabel (a prince, in the line of the Messiah) rebuilding the temple. I thought about Jesus (Messiah and King) speaking to the pharisees and telling them that He would rebuild the Temple in three days: “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21). I thought about Jesus’ resurrection. I thought about our future bodies which will be like Jesus’ resurrected body: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
In my recent talks I have been drawing attention to 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” We are all decaying, but those of us on a rapid decay schedule may think about it a bit more often. These days, the beauty of the inner man being renewed surpasses the lament of the outer man’s decay.
What now is important? Loving God and loving others. In the two great commandments we see what renews our inner man, what will last for eternity, and what is really important.
My suggestion is to avoid mirrors. But, if you don’t, then make sure you hold to this simple truth: “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him (2 Timothy 2:11).