I’ve spent a lot of time staring into the mirror lately. I’m fully aware of how vain that must sound, but let me tell you, middle age is hard on a girl. Maybe it’s the result of having three babies in four years, or perhaps it has something to do with the twenty-seven total months of pregnancy that resulted in those babies, the three solid years of nursing said babies, or all the child-rearing, toddler-wrangling, middle-of-the-night-time-soothings and everyday-life-still-a-happenin’ that went on in the meantime, but DANG am I all worn out now.
With each passing year that pushes me deeper into my thirty-somethings, it is becoming increasingly more obvious that my body was better suited for youth. The boundless energy that I use to know has long since fizzled into a 9 o’clock bedtime (that’s for me, not the kiddos – God forbid). The natural brunette tresses that use to come, well… naturally, have started needing some assistance in staying natural. The near-flawless skin that characterized my twenty-somethings has methodically been collecting the small lines, creases and wrinkles that unfortunately seem to be characterizing my thirty-somethings.
As a result of all this wear and tear on my body, I’ve found myself spending more time looking closely in the mirror than I ever have before, inspecting my face to see what’s changed since the last time I gave a good look. I’ve invested in eye cream, a cleansing facial mask, a pore reducing toner, a sensitive skin treatment, and a night-time refining cream. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my husband when he questioned my hefty purchases, “These expenditures have become necessary”. I can no longer go on pretending that time hasn’t taken it’s toll on my body. And this week it became clear that I can no longer go on pretending that time hasn’t taken it’s toll on my soul.
Because, oh my, has it ever. As I worked my way through some difficult interpersonal terrain these last few weeks, God revealed to me several places in my heart that had fallen into disrepair. He seemed to be speaking right to me, “You so intentionally seek out the places where your skin has grown rough, calloused, and marred by imperfections, but I am more concerned with those places on your heart”.
Have you noticed that God has a funny way of intercepting our lives with His Word? Last week, I was reading about Abraham’s wife, Sarah. It turns out that just like me, time had taken it’s toll on her body and her soul. Sarah had longed her entire life to bear a child, but at ninety years of age, the Lord had yet to grant her request. This state of affairs caused all sorts of turmoil in Sarah’s soul, because somewhere way back in time, the Lord had made her a promise that echoed through the recesses of her heart. A promise that He would give Abraham more descendants than there were stars in the sky (Genesis 15:6). But twenty-five years later, a child had yet to be given. As Sarah’s body aged and grew decrepit, so did her hope in the God who had promised a child. And right about the time Sarah stopped believing that God would give her a child, the Lord decided to ask her if she still believed that He could give her a child…
Genesis 18:10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
Whenever God asks a question in Scripture, it is always for our benefit, not His, seeing as He already knows the answer to every question. God’s questions always provide us an opportunity to evaluate our own heart and then repent if necessary. God’s question to Sarah in verse 14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”, served as an invitation for her to take a close look in the mirror to evaluate the person she had become. And the truth is, that over the years, Sarah had grown bitter over her barrenness. After years of being left unattended, that bitterness had grown into disbelief. So although she was afraid to say it aloud to Him, the obvious answer to the question God had posed her – “Do you think that anything too hard for me, Sarah?” – was Yes. As year after year after year went by without a pregnancy she had nursed the lie that perhaps there was something too hard for the Lord until it had become full grown. She had looked at her circumstances and after waiting for His timing and praying for His will and wrestling with her own desires, she couldn’t understand why if he could do it, that he hadn’t done it. Over time, Sarah’s heart had grown rough, calloused and marred by imperfections.
While my struggles, heartaches, and insecurities are quite different from Sarah’s, and your struggles, heartaches and insecurities are different from mine, left unattended, they all lead to the same place. They eventually lead us to doubt the One who made the promise.
After the Lord left Sarah that day, she did one of the most difficult things a girl can do… she took a long look in the mirror, intentionally seeking out the imperfections, false beliefs, and accepted lies that marred her heart. As last week went from bad to worse for me, I sensed the Lord prompting me to do the same. So I did. Sometimes looking in the mirror is not just a vain attempt to perfect your appearance, but a necessary step in reorienting yourself to the truth.