And doesn’t it make sense, then, that even now we should start getting ready for that great time by using our bodies as living sacrifices of worship and instruments of righteousness for the glory of God?John Piper
This is the second of three in a series I’ve called “Body Image.” It should be the third, but this issue has become so pressing to me that it had to be next. You see, it’s about the future’s body image. This image is a very literal image, and one that you’ll be most pleased with. So will I. The image I have in mind is what is sometimes known as a redeemed body, or a glorified body.
Please allow me to groan outwardly for a few minutes before we climb back up to the peak of joyfulness about the truth of our situation. You see, “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23). Oh, I certainly am groaning, along with all creation, to be liberated from the bondage of decay.
You may have read that my decay has been a bit hastened by a motorcycle accident. Here’s something I posted in social media about my plight some time ago. Having another look at it as helped me see things in a new light.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is that I now see heaven as my home and my preferred place of dwelling. This is new. Since July 2017 I have learned to rejoice, yes, and Praise God. The weariness and drudgery of recovery has taught me to lean forward.
The body I took pride in keeping strong is broken. My best knee barely bends and the other is fused. As I learn to walk again, recovering balance and muscle mass, I drag around about twenty pounds of metal that is fastened to my leg with posts, screws and wire. I am never comfortable. Ever. Many times each day that discomfort crosses over into pain, especially at night when my better leg feels as if it’s being ripped again.
My chest and arms ache with fatigue from bearing some of the weight my legs once bore. All the time. My ankles hurt so much when I first stand in the morning I’d much rather stay in bed. Wires pull on my thigh continually and sometimes they feel like they will tear through. My hands hurt from the crutches and carpal tunnel has developed, weakening my right hand’s fingers so that cutting my nails is nearly impossible.
My left elbow has developed bursitis causing an unsightly knob of fluid to grow and leaves me aching there. Sitting in my wheelchair too long makes my right foot black from lack of circulation.
My stomach has been brutalised by repeated courses of antibiotics forcing me to deal with urgent issues that are hard to deal with because clothing is hard to get past my frame.
Meanwhile previous issues still plague me. My tinnitus still rings its chorus of dissonance of three or four tones of ringing and crickets-chirping. Blepharitis dries my eyes out to the point of pain and at night I can hardly open my eyes.
But all this is so temporary. This body will not be my home forever. For the first time I believe (and not just say I believe) that I will be fitted with a resurrected body.
‘… but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies’
Perhaps there will be scars, like the scars of Jesus who went before us. They may be a reminder of what has taken place on Earth to prepare me for the kingdom, conforming me to his image (Romans 8:29).”
Much of what I said over a year ago is still true. That painful metal frame is gone, along with the bursitis, but there are new problems due to my leg not healing properly during the reconstruction. I still use crutches and my levels of bodily fatigue are as high as ever. This was exacerbated by trying to go back to work full time. During this time, the simple act of filling out a very thorough questionnaire for an orthopaedic consultant has triggered a psychological downer for me. This has brought me to a new dilemma.
I’ve experienced a new level of mourning for my limbs. Mourning for my walking. Mourning for the odd miscellaneous tasks that I either can’t do or can’t do with ease. So now as I struggle with doing life, I ask myself, how can I glorify God if I’m getting depressed? How can I “do all things for the Glory of God” if everything I do is not its best because I just don’t have the mental or physical resources to perform? How can I love others as I’m supposed to, especially since my job really can’t be done well without doing just that? Everything I do seems to be filtered by the limitations of this broken body and its exhausted brain.
As I have pondered these questions, I only came up with one answer, and that came from what God has shown me before; I have to trust that God will be glorified somehow by my surrendering these very questions to him. That’s still a work in progress. However, I learned something more important, and I suspect that has something to do with these struggles.
You see, a year ago, I longed to move onto my new Home and looked forward to that glorified body. No more pain! What a deal! Only since then I have come to realize that there lies a misguided motivation. Don’t get me wrong – of course we long for relief. That’s only natural. But how much more do I now want this new body so that I can glorify God! That’s the key – such a marvelous revelation! I should hope for the glorified body, not to end pain and deficiencies, but so that I can be equipped to worship and glorify a God who will be seen for the first time with the eyes of a body that can survive the presence of His radiance. My new person will delight, unhindered for the first time, in the God who is my joy.
Some people don’t have physical challenges as bad as mine. Some people have much worse. But some day there will be great equality with great bodies that will do just what they have been meant to do all along – that is glorify God in a most fulfilling way.
Jesus, see that mountain over there?
Remember my days in the mountains?
I want to worship you up there. Can you be there when I get there?
I certainly will. I would be delighted. Come, let’s walk together.