Two incidents within one week. Both observing the same milestone. But one person looks at life ebbing away. The other looks at life lived even more abundantly.
At a birthday dinner for a friend celebrating 60, the talk naturally turned to retirement. With this group of friends, retirement is anything but “retiring”. Instead, it is more opportunities, another chapter to be written with vigor, new paths to follow in great anticipation.
Just a few days later, flipping through channels, I stopped at a movie and listened to one of the characters wailing about her upcoming 60th birthday; she felt she was shriveling up and her life was pretty much finished.
One saw death. The other sees life growing ever more abundant.
While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NLT)
(I suppose everyone over thirty groans and sighs sometimes because of a mortal body … )
This chapter is discussing the day when each one of us takes down her earthly tent and moves to an eternal body made by God to live in the eternal. In the NIV version, verse 5 reads:
So that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
One of my favorite phrases in the Bible! Swallowed up by life. What an exciting description of what will happen at the end of my earthly days! Hmmm. Maybe I want that on my headstone … or on that little memory card you’ll get at the funeral home … oh … I digress.
Back to the subject for today. I know this passage is talking specifically about death, taking down our tents here and moving on to what Jesus has prepared for us. But this phrase is so powerful that it often comes back to me when I think about my living now. The word used here for “swallowed” is the same one used in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
This is what I want to happen, even while I’m still on this earth. I want all that is mortal in me to be swallowed up by Life.
And God has promised this will happen for those who come to Him. It begins as soon as we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit. The life we live becomes the new life Christ gives us. It begins to happen Now.
My selfishness and limited ability to love swallowed up by His love
My brokenness swallowed up by His wholeness and healing
My weakness swallowed up by His strength
The acts of my sinful nature swallowed up by the fruits of the Spirit.
Lord Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth, the Life. Let my mortal be swallowed up by your Life.