In a world obsessed with external youth, it is a strange thing to see how sin ages the soul. Anti-wrinkle creams abound, promising to ease the effects of aging outwardly, but few people stop to take inventory of the aging that is happening within.
I have had aging on my heart and mind this week. While this could be due to the fact that I am beginning to have some stubborn wrinkles taking up permanent abode on my forehead, I think it has more to do with watching the joy and wonder in the lives of children.
The Eternal Appetite of Infancy
G.K. Chesterton forever changed the way I think of the Ancient One in the chapter “The Ethics of Elfland” from his classic book Orthodoxy.
“It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
The eternal appetite of infancy. It is possible to wonder afresh every morning looking at the same trees on the same walking route in the same neighborhood. But sin ages our hearts and hardens them.
In the Old Testament, God continually warned His sin-struck people about the weariness and soul-aging that results from sin. The book of Jeremiah is replete with examples of how God’s people were exhausting and deadening themselves through entrenched sin patterns.
Everyone deceives his neighbor and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 9: 5-6).
In the New Testament, Paul warns the Jewish Christians to not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13). Likewise, he talks to the learned yet sin-aged souls in Athens about the blinding effect of sin and the need to grope and feel our way toward Him because of our ignorance (Acts 17:26).
In our own experience, it is likely that we have both witnessed and lived the detrimental effects of sin. We know the weariness of chasing after sin in our own lives and we have seen people who have aged tremendously through addiction, hidden sin patterns and seasons of sinful sowing.
Growing Young through Repentance
If sin is an aging agent to the soul, then repentance is its revitalizing agent.
The more we walk towards our Redeemer by the two-step shuffle (repent and believe), the more life we find returning to our souls. Life becomes new and fresh again. We see old things and ordinary people through new eyes. The hopeless, helpless limp of lifelessness is replaced by a God-wrought hope that puts the pep back into our soul’s step.
The world has grown old
From its slavery to sin.
Chasing a moving target,
Weary without, withered within.
The globe has gone gray,
Exhausted from racing.
Souls became misshapen
By years of inward-facing.
Wrinkled and wretched,
Constipated with our own cares,
We’ve grown older than God
In our soul-aging, unawares.
Turning home in repentance,
Ancient souls grow young.
With every step Son-ward,
Self-shells are shed and flung.
Running to the Redeemer,
Whose soul is evergreen,
As souls regain their sheen.
May we experience the soul-revitalization that comes from repenting of sin and turning to our Redeemer!