The Odometer

It was illegal but still done.

You wanted to find a good used car at a reasonable price.

You asked the owner if those incredibly low miles were original.

“Yes, as far as I know”, was the reply.

If a car looked like a low-mileage vehicle, it was fairly easy to make the mileage match the appearance. The odometer could simply be turned back. Thousands of recorded miles would vanish in as much time as it took to say “crooked”.

The automobile – more worn than the unsuspecting buyer would ever know – had suddenly been given a new lease on life by a dishonest dealer.

It might be nice if the years of our lives were like the odometer on a used car.

They’re not.

Time can never be set back to something more preferable and enjoyable – more in keeping with the age we feel and want to be. Regardless of how we feel – or look – time only marches forward. To strive to appear younger than we really are – and billions are spent on that every year – makes us feel better about ourselves and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look more attractive. And since God gave us our bodies as precious gifts – and the temple of his Holy Spirit – we are responsible to God to take care of our health.

There are products which give us energy and soothe our aches and pains; others take away the gray hair and the wrinkles. But regardless of what we spend or do, the mistake would be in deceiving ourselves.

There’s no turning back the years.

My own odometer rolled over last week. I’m another year older.

When I see the doctor for my physical he won’t give me a pill or injection that will miraculously make me forty again. Medicine’s come a long way – it will never go that far. When I leave that office my aging body will go with me.

And speaking of self-deception, I must stop thinking of myself as middle-aged; people don’t live to be 130.

I got a nice birthday card from my dear Aunt Bunny. She still lives on beautiful Deer Isle, Maine, where my mother was born and my ancestors are buried. Aunt Bunny is 83. She penned a note in the card about the day I was born:

“I’ll always remember May 15th! I was grocery shopping with your mother. She left me to finish shopping, because she was in labor. Stan [a dear family friend in whose honor I bear my middle name] came back to get me. The years sure do go by fast, don’t they?”

Yes, Aunt Bunny they sure do.

And once they’re gone, they never come back.

My mother, who now remembers nothing about that day – or me – once told me that she was nervous the night Dr. Gibson came in to deliver me. He was upset about the outcome of the world heavyweight boxing championship and she feared he might be distracted.

Rocky Marciano, in a Chicago rematch, had just knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott in the first round. Not much of a fight and Dr. Gibson felt cheated. But I came out just fine.

Dwight Eisenhower was a mere four months into his presidency.

“The years sure do go by fast, don’t they?”

Yes, “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” Job tells us (Job 7:6).

When it comes to our time on this earth, the transcendent, recurring themes in the Bible are brevity and uncertainty. The metaphors are fleeting: a shadow, a mist, a tale that is told, the morning grass, clouds, spilt water on the ground, sailing ships and eagles in the sky, flowers of the field and a handbreadth.

Dust and clay.

“We all do fade as a leaf” (Isaiah 64:6, KJV).

God wants to make sure we get that – in all of its implications for how we choose to live our brief intervals between the massive eternities of the past and the future.

“Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.”

But wait!

As great a hymn as it is, the Apostle Paul refuses to let Isaac Watts have the final word.

There is, Paul asserts in his second letter to the Corinthians, the rest of the story.

And it makes all the difference in how we see our own mortality.

“That is why we never give up,” Paul writes. “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day” (II Corinthians 4:16, NLT).

You and I will age and “perish” (KJV) physically, every one of us, but the most important part of us – our very souls – are, through the power of Jesus Christ, basking in eternal youth.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down – when we die and leave these bodies – we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (II Corinthians 5:1, NLT).

Mortality and eternity have struggled.

Eternity’s won.

Forget the odometer.

Someday you are I will be in brand new showroom condition.


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Filed under Christian World View, Faith, Religion

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