Derek Sisterhen

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Withering wonderfully

Have you ever heard the song “On My Bones” by Kendall Payne? You should check it out.

What this world has brought me
What this world has taught me
Senseless spinning, never tie instead of winning
Ice cream for licking, the clock’s always ticking
No one is free, someone must have a key
Oh this world has been hard on my bones

In the past few years, I’ve noticed a new dimension to life as Derek Sisterhen here on earth: lingering physical discomfort.

Now, you should know that I’m a pretty healthy individual.  I stay active and eat wisely.  But as I hit my late twenties, I started noticing how things like working in the yard, or going to the gym after a long weekend away, or even driving in the car for an extended period of time left my body feeling sore and stiff.  No longer do I bounce back like I once did.

There’s more to it than simply stretching before doing (pretty much) anything.  Time is beginning to work against me.  And it’s working against you, too.

The clock’s always ticking…

There is something subversive and ferocious in time’s quiet, steady march forward.  What we may gain in wisdom and experience is leveraged with deterioration of body.  We can’t keep up.  Perhaps this is why, after aging enough to attain such a level of insight, Oscar Wilde said, “Youth is wasted on the young.”  Once we’ve gained the wisdom to realize the fullness of youthful exuberance, soreness and fatigue begin to settle in like a fog.

Some will labor against time’s march, trying to buck the inevitable through hyper-fitness, surgical procedures, or chemistry.  That’s denial.  We all know we’re fighting a losing battle.  In the end, it’s the same for all of our bodies, our bones.

In the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon laments the meaninglessness of everything.  And he means everything. Solomon had the resources to wring his lifetime dry of experiences, desires, and indulgences.  He could do whatever he wanted with his time.  All of it depressed him and he decried it all as meaningless.

Yet, in the midst of his depression, he submits the following, a flicker of light in an otherwise dark recording:

[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The bones are meant to be beautiful for a time, but then they’re meant to creak, and wear, and break down.  Naturally, we can get fixated on the creaking, wearing, and breaking down – we feel that most each day.  But there’s that thread of hope inside us that whispers, “We’ll defeat this someday yet!  There’s more!”

That thread of hope

“We’ll defeat this someday yet!”  It makes you want to pump your fist in the air, doesn’t it?  Yeah, we will overcome!  Hurrah!  Wait, we will overcome, won’t we?

The answer is no, no we won’t overcome…not on our own.  My creaking, worn, broken down body is just going to keep withering and failing. No amount of positive, motivated thinking can reverse course here.  From the day we were born, our bags were packed and we were handed a one-way ticket.

But that thread of hope still winds its way through our hearts and souls.  Paul talks about it in Romans, and you can hear the echo of Solomon’s words:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, 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. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25)

Paul says that creation is “groaning”.  I can relate; I’m doing that more and more when I get out of bed in the morning.  But my groans are rooted in an awareness of things lost – like youthful energy and vitality – with each passing day.  Creation is groaning for things to come, straining and yearning for a new Time.

Withering wonderfully

We have a choice to make.  I have a choice to make.  Will I wither?  Or, will I wither wonderfully?

I can’t help but think of elsewhere in Romans where Paul says “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice – this is true and proper worship.”  Even in the living, I’m withering and falling away.  What I offer as a living sacrifice today is more energetic than what I’ll have to offer when I’m 60, and again when I’m 90 (Lord willing).  But that’s all I have to offer: This failing body with these aching bones that groan along with creation for the promised time of redemption.

And God knows it.  He’s rescuing us from it.

I know a lot of people who live very busy lives.  They are constantly moving.  They are routinely rountined.  “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” they may joke, but it actually describes their reality.  I’ve become far more sensitive to time – and managing it for the resource that it is – in recent years.

I’m not interested in wasting it and I bet you aren’t either.  In order to use it wisely, I must be focused on what God desires most of me.  It’s not that I run my son to soccer practice, nor that I work until 8:30 at night.  He desires my heart.

Do I wake up and surrender it?  Am I being led toward doing things that actually matter or am I tied up in motions that push one day into the next?  Am I dragging the fog of fatigue into my life?

Have I truly helped anyone lately?

A steward recognizes the blessing of time and his use of it determines whether the bones wither wonderfully.

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3 Comments
  • Raymond Bunger on January 16, 2015

    This article or blog post re-emphasises to me how much i have let my “temple” slip away and destruct. It is time to try a little renovation on that “temple” for a more enjoyable time between life and the afdterlife. Thanks for writing it. 2015 is going to be a really good year.

    • Derek on January 16, 2015

      Thanks for reading and the comment, Raymond. I can definitely relate with the condition of the temple thing. I’m aiming to get back into running this year. So many benefits!

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