By SHARON K. GILBERT
June 18, 2008
BRITNEY SPEARS will likely not ‘get’ my point, but it’s my prayer that she may — one day — understand. Trust me, I’m not being harsh; I’m simply stating a fact. I know because I’ve been there.
Some of you who’ve been listening for a while to PID Radio, or those who’ve read some of my earlier, introspective articles will remember that I spent my twenty-something years singing for my supper in the central Indiana area. As the ‘front singer’ for a string of top-forty, dance bands, I had to keep my weight as low as possible: Cher thin. Trust me, my Scots-Irish-German body does not naturally ‘do’ Cher thin. Constantly worrying about physical appearance and starving myself to maintain a false image certainly led to health issues I now face, and it may well have stunted my spiritual growth for years. If anything, I wilted rather than blossomed. God must truly love me to have put up with my self-possessed thought life back then.
That was three decades ago, so why would I bring all this up today? Because the Lord reminded me of it just this afternoon.
It was in the parking lot of our local Wal-Mart, while loading the back of our car with half-price annuals, that I noticed an elderly couple following several steps behind two animated teenage boys. At first, I assumed the foursome to be nothing more than strangers whose footsteps gathered forces for a brief interlude while crossing the traffic lane. It was only when the lead teen turned back to comment to the couple on an item he carried, followed by nodding and laughter by the husband and wife (an intimate exchange that spoke volumes of shared lives and shared joys), that I realized this must be a family outing. Their smiles told of honest, open hearts and kindnesses beyond measure.
The older man, possibly ‘Grandpa’ wore the weight of years upon his stooped shoulders, and his belt size threatened to bypass his height. He wore a dusty ball cap, short-sleeved shirt, and off-the rack blue jeans that looked as if they’d seen many seasons.
The tall woman wore a long skirt and button-up sleeveless shirt, and she walked with a slight halt, as if fighting minor pains in aging joints. But it was her eyes that caused me to catch my breath — really. Her eyes shone in the bright day’s sun with a gleam that can only come from a life decorated by constant joy. Her figure may once have been hourglass, her visage once smooth and fair, her hair once void of the troublesome grays that now overwhelmed the browns, but years had reshaped the slender lines of youth in favor of the pleasant plumpness that comforts all those who love her. This regal woman had a beauty all her own, and she shone like a diamond!
The teens basked in the glow of the elders — perhaps learning lessons they would later employ in raising their own children. And then it hit me: God looks upon the heart with absolutely no regard for physical appearances. However, the world cares only about transient, unobtainable silhouettes, demanding that young women strive for size zero and brain zero. ‘Role models’ such as Britney attest to this. If the poor girl gains a pound, it’s all over the tabloids. Bleach blonde ‘ideals’ pervade magazine covers, convincing teens and tweens that perfection is within their grasp through exercise and dieting (with anorexia/bulimia becoming more and more the ‘diet’ of choice).
God, however, tells us to seek perfection in Christ. This doesn’t mean we have to follow a set of rules without error. It means that God is working His molding process in our lives — in our spirits — to achieve that perfection that He already sees in us.
Those who believe in Christ as Savior are covered by the blood of His sacrifice, and as such are covered in His perfection. I once heard it this way: receiving Christ is like receiving a new operating system. That is salvation. But over the course of our spiritual walk on this earth, God slowly purges old files and replaces them with new ones. We are being transformed — not physically — but on the inside, where it counts.
True Beauty comes from a heart dedicated to serving the Lord — from a life dedicated to Him. How are you serving Him today? The Bible is our spiritual mirror; have you looked there today?
If not, dust off the cover, open it up, and take a good, long look. You’ll be so very glad you did.