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He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. (Psalm 103:4–5 the message)
Death is utterly swept away at the Great Restoration. And not only death, but every other form of sorrow, assault, illness, and harm we’ve ever known. You will be completely renewed—body, soul, and spirit. How do we even imagine this? Take it in small steps; think of some recovery you have experienced. A piercing headache can be debilitating; you know the sweet relief when it vanishes. Surely you have had some nasty flu, and you know what a joy it was to get your strength and appetite back. These little glimpses of our restoration are taking place all the time, hints of what is coming.
Stasi came into the kitchen this morning with her running shoes on. I looked up with a surprised expression on my face. “Where are you going?” I asked. “I’m going for my walk,” she said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Tears filled my eyes; I have not heard those words in a very long time. Walking has not been the most natural thing in the world for her. Oh, it once was. But it has been exactly one year since Stasi went for a walk.
Last fall she had an injury, tore her labral muscle in her right hip. That muscle provides the primary internal stability in the hip socket, and with it gone, deep arthritic erosion was revealed underneath. For the next nine months Stasi lived in chronic pain, bone-rubbing-on-bone pain, the kind only narcotics relieve. She walked with a cane when she walked at all; but most days she was confined to a chair. She lost her daily morning prayer walk, her precious time where she brings her heart back to the heart of God, prays for all those she cares so deeply about. Her prayer walk is her primary act of restoration in a stressful life. Hip surgery came in June; a summer of slow recovery followed.
So when she happily sashayed out the front door pain-free, I really could have fallen on the floor and wept for relief and joy. Such a simple thing, really, but in this hurting world physical restoration can feel like getting your life back. As the English poet George Herbert yearned,
Oh that I once past changing were
Fast in thy paradise, where no flower can wither.
Many people face far, far worse. I think of the woman I helped in the grocery store last week. She was only in her thirties, I’m guessing, but she was bent over in her wheelchair, tiny and frail. A veil of shame and disappointment had permanently shaped her countenance; you have seen that tragic mask, I’m sure. I helped her reach the egg salad on the shelf above, but my heart broke for her. This is her life? What do you say to the soldier horribly maimed by stepping on an IED? What restoration awaits the woman who, due to a series of complications after surgery, lost three of her limbs and must be turned in bed many times a day?
Thank God we have more than empathy to offer; we have the restoration of Jesus to point to as a solid, vivid demonstration of our coming renewal.
The broken body of Jesus was horribly torn apart by his torture and execution; I wince even to write of it. “He didn’t even look human—a ruined face, disfigured past recognition” (Isaiah 52:13 the message). But then, wonder of wonders, two mornings later he was completely renewed at his resurrection. Our Forerunner was physically restored and then some. Gone the thorn in his brow, gone the spear in his side, gone the nails in his hands. His body was beautiful and whole again. So great was his happiness he spent Easter in some very playful encounters with his friends.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . .
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Again—these promises are so beautiful our parched souls can hardly take them in, as the sunbaked earth can barely receive the thundershowers it so desperately needs. Just linger on this one promise for a moment—your loving Father will renew your youth. No one is old in his kingdom.
We are a golden retriever family; currently, we have two. Oban—our nine-year-old—is lying on the deck right now warming himself in the sunshine. He is, after all, sixty-three in dog years. With a raised eyebrow he is watching Maisie—our eighteen-month-old—who is into anything and everything in a matter of moments. Before I wrote this sentence she was chasing a bird; now she is digging a hole with earnest attention, fully convinced that if she digs hard enough she’ll get that gopher; she looks up for a moment, tongue out, nose and face covered with dirt, eyes bright and head cocked as if to say, Isn’t this fantastic?! A chipmunk races by, and she chases it with absolute joy, tail high like a flag; then it’s back to rummaging around in the bushes. Hey, look—here’s my ball!
When we hike she is always running past us, to the right and left, exploring. If we find water she is the first in; if it’s snow then she’ll slide down it on her back like a polar bear. Her joy is boundless; her enjoyment of everything is boundless. Because she is young. This will be our joy in the new earth, as we are made new.
Youth is what enables us to enjoy life. No, that’s not quite right; youthfulness is what enables us to find the wonder in everything. Vibrancy. Lighthearted, like you feel late into a long vacation. Hopeful, like a child on Christmas morning. The absence of all cynicism and resignation—not to mention all physical suffering.
I love that part in The Silver Chair when old age simply vanishes from frail King Caspian, because age is the unavoidable meltdown, stripping even the bravest and most beautiful of their former glory. Whatever physical affliction you have known, whatever your limitations have been, everything old age will eventually strip you of—it will all be washed away. Your renewed body will be like the body of Jesus. We will burst forth into the new creation like children let out for summer break, running, somersaulting, cartwheeling into the meadows of the new earth. Running like the children, “without getting tired . . . faster and faster till it was more like flying than running, and even the Eagle overhead was going no faster than they.”
Taken from All Things New by John Eldredge. Copyright © 2017 by John Eldredge. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.AllThingsNew.com.
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This article is part of our larger resource library of terms important to the Christian faith. From heaven and hell to baptism and communion, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about theological words and their meaning.
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Hell - 10 Things You Should Know
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Communion - 10 Important Things to Remember
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Predestination - Biblical Support and Facts
Armor of God - What is it and How to Use it