Shine!

My body and I have been at war from the very beginning.
I think that is true of every person.

The battle looks different for each of us.
But we all wrestle with some sense of failure with what our body looks like. Or how it performs. Or what is has in overabundance. Or what it lacks.

Sometimes this wrestling is because of unrealistic expectations.
We look at people in advertisements and sigh because we don’t look like them.
Of course, they don’t look like them either. It is make-up or lighting or Spanx or photo-shop or all of the above. Our brains know that. But our hearts don’t.

Sometimes the wrestling is because we have allowed food to be an idol. We overindulge one organ – our tongue and taste buds – at the expense of all of our other organs. Or we overindulge our stomachs in an attempt to fill a void in our souls. And then we hate ourselves for both our outward appearance and our inward lack of self-control.

And sometimes this wrestling is physiological. Because we live in a fallen, sinful world our bodies were born broken. And they become more broken as we go through this life. We wish we were more athletic. Or more graceful. Or less tall. Or more tall. With a bigger this-body-part and a smaller this-body-part. Or we wrestle with chronic illness. Maybe one that is visible. Or maybe one that no one can see.

We all wrestle with our bodies in some way, to some degree.
And we all have different ways of coping with it, don’t we?

Some of us make exercise and food an idol in the name of good health.
And some of us give up on eating well or exercising because we tell ourselves we don’t care – or we aren’t going to change anything anyway, so why try?

Some of us wallow in our frailties. We make sure everyone knows about our chronic condition and therefore excuse ourselves from living – or at least from doing that things we don’t want to do.
And others of us don’t know how to say, “I can’t do that” and we push past what we can endure.

Some of us obsess over the outward appearance of things, layering on outer trappings – clothing, make-up, hair dye, jewelry – to disguise our flaws.
And some of us give up and don’t even try to make the outside look pleasing to any eye, including our own.

So many traps.
So many pitfalls.
So much pain.
I get it.
Like I said, I have been at war with this body of mine from the very beginning.

But I was reading about Solomon’s temple that he built for the Lord.
And I realized that the way God had him build it is a fabulous metaphor for life – and particularly for our bodies.

The whole thing was made of stone. That was the foundation and the walls.
Massive stones, hewn out of a quarry and fit to size, then dragged to the building site and fitted together.

Overlaying the stones was cedar wood. Panel after panel of wood for each room, walls, ceiling and floor.

But then came the gold. Every bit of wood – even the floor – was overlaid with gold. I cannot even imagine walking on a floor made of gold!

The attention to detail in his temple was astonishing, too. Intricate carvings in the walls. Gorgeous flowers made of gold. Curtains with designs woven through them. Everything crafted to bring maximum glory to the God the temple was made to honor.

Solomon’s temple was destroyed thousands of years ago.

But Paul told the church at Corinth that WE are the temple of God now. If you are a follower of Jesus, YOU are God’s temple. And what struck me this week is that we are designed much like Solomon’s temple.

The foundation for your temple and mine is solid Rock. THE Rock. The Cornerstone. The Living God indwells those of us who are believers. Giving us all we need to stand firm. Filling us with His power. Enabling us to live for Him.

Layered on that rock are the wooden walls – in this case, our earthly frames. Skeletons, organs, skin, hair and nails.

But then comes the gold. And this is where we stumble so very, very often.

We think the “gold”, the things that makes us beautiful, desirable, worthy of love and attention are the outward layers, the things that the eyes see.
Clothing, makeup, jewelry.
Certain measurements and certain curves.
Or muscles in all the right places.
The right haircut and color.

And while there is nothing wrong with looking nice or being physically fit, these things are not the real gold.
They are the things that come and go.
Time, age, and circumstances all alter them.
Physical ailments and the treatments for them make them change.

But the things that make you sparkle, the things that make you shine, the real gold?
They are the things of eternity.

Are you kind? To everyone. Not just the people who look like you and agree with you?
Are you forgiving? Of everyone. Not just those who you decide deserve it?
Are you generous? Generous with your wallet, sure. But also with your love? Loving the unlovely, the ones who can’t do anything for you? Are you generous with your compassion? Putting yourself in the other guys’ shoes, his perspective? With your time? Laying aside your agenda to help someone else?

Are you thankful? Recognizing your many, many blessings instead of focusing on what you lack?
Are you available? Willing to let God use you however HE chooses, on HIS timetable, with HIS agenda?
Are you merciful? Showing others the mercy you have received, not treating them as their sin deserves because God has been merciful to you?

Those things – and many more – are the real gold.
The other stuff? The things we focus on so much?
Those things are fool’s gold.
They are not eternal.
And they will not last.

Please hear me.
Taking care of your body is a good, good thing.
Eating well.
Getting enough exercise.
Getting enough rest.
Clothing yourself in a way that looks good on you – and isn’t a stumbling block to others.
Highlighting the outer beauty that God has given to each of us.

These are good things.
But they are not THE thing.

You are His temple.
And the wood behind the gold – your body, your frame – that is important.
But the gold that layers it – your conduct, your heart for others, your heart for Him, your obedience, your attitude – that is what makes you shine.

There is fool’s gold that I have longed for my whole life.
But I will never be athletic.
And I will never be a teeny-tiny woman.
I will never be particularly graceful.

But I can shine.
And so can you.
Regardless of your list of “I will never be…”, you can shine with true gold.
Eternal gold.
So get glowing!
The world needs to see His glory in you.

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