"We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, as as responsible moral beings, we must deal with both.
"'He hath set eternity in their heart,' said the Preacher, and I think he here sets forth both the glory and misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge porportion. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. ...The marks of the divine image hae been so obsured by sin taht they are not easty to idneity, but is it not reasonable to believe that one mark may be man's inssatiable craving for immorality?
"'Thou wilt not leave us in the dust. Thou madest man, he knows not why; He thinks he was not made to die and Thou has made him; Thou are just.'
"So reasons Tennyson, and the depest instincts of the normal human heart agree with him. The ancient image of God whispers within every man of oeverlasting hope; somewhere he will continue to exist. Still he cannot rejoice; for the light that lighteth every man that cmeith into the world troubles his conscience, frightening him with proofs of guiltand evidences of coming death. So is he ground between the upper millstone of hope and the nether stone of fear.
"Just here, the sweet relvancy of the Chrsitan message appears. 'Jesus Christ...hath ablished death, and hath brought light and immortality to light through the gospel.' So wrote the greatest Christian of them all just efore he went out to meet his executioner. God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade su that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy. Out of eternity our Lord came into time to rescue (Us) whose moral folly has made us not only fools of the passing world but slaves of sin and death as well."
I paused when I read those words. Haven't we all felt that yearning for immortality, yet, at the same time, a knowledge of our mortality? I think that double-sided view comes keenest in those bittersweet moments when we celebrate the joy and pain of a passage in life. We rejoice, for example, that a beloved child has happily married, but, at the same time, we miss the days when that child was a toddler in our arms. We celeberate a wonderful wedding anniversary and rejoice over the happy and full years we've shared together. At the same time, if we are of a certain age, we may wonder if we have more years behind us than before us.
I've also been feeling this glimpse of mortality and immortality in returning to dance exercise after being away from specifically dance exercise for a long time. I've had the joy of doing some of the steps I learned in my youth, as well as an increase in strength and sense of well being. But, at the same time, I know the pang of realizing that no matter how hard I practice or how much better I become from this point, I will not wake up tomorrow and be the lithe young person that I once was. Nor, will I have the malleable, strong, ready-for-training body that I once had. For me, ballet and dance can only be a plesant form of exercise and not a serious pursuit. I will have to stick to what the middle- to senior-aged body can achieve. There have been some rare individuals who have achieved wonderful things in dance at advanced ages. However, even they cannot achieve what they could in their younger years. So, while I don't know exactly where my age-related limitations are, I do know that they are there.
The glory is, though, that, as it says in 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."
So, our bones may ache more than they used to, and we may never be invited to dance with the Bolshoi or to participate in the Olympics. Our face may have new wrinkles, and our hair may be less luxurious than in our youth. It may take us a moment longer to remember something than it used to. While we do the best we can to maintain health and beauty, the truth is that our outer glory is fading. It does not matter, for inwardly, we are being conformed to the image of Christ, being made more fit every day for our true home. That is a glorious blessing, a blessing which time and mortality can not take away from us.
Intimations of our mortality may cause a momentary sigh, but they actually bless us, for they remind us to look toward the horizon -- toward the eternal life we will have with the Lord. At the same time, if we are true disciples of Jesus, we have the comfor of knowing that we have the seed of eternal life already within our hearts. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24
What have we here on Earth that will also exist in eternity? Our relationship with the Lord, of course. Also, the people we have influenced to know God. These are treasures that do not fade away.