November 29, 2020
Written by: Sylvia Maltzmann
In the time I’ve been walking with Christ, I’ve wondered about one thing: if God is all-mighty, wise and kind, why do believers have to keep on existing as reborn spirits inside of bodies that are dying? Why do we have to struggle against our strong tendency to sin and suffer all the consequences of aging and accidents? Why doesn’t God just give us re-born bodies to go with our re-born spirits? Or whisk us away to Heaven to live with that reborn spirit?
I have pondered this for a long time, and I confess that it caused me a deep resentment against God. Why does He have to do everything the hard way? Why do I have to slog through mortal life with a body that is “outwardly perishing” but housing an immortal spirit? It hasn’t been fun to live with “treasures in jars of clay.” It seems like torture to me, especially with disabilities that have only gotten worse with time, leaving me with a body that doesn’t cooperate well with my daily needs. I couldn’t shake my resentment over this extra burden that I carry. And I never got an answer to the question, “Why me? Why these issues? Why can’t it be easier?” This lump of clay named Sylvia was talking back to the Potter.
But one day, while I was spending time with the Lord, I got an answer. I realized this resentment has gotten in the way of fully surrendering to God. But as I struggled to set it aside, I saw an answer so clearly!
Life in the flesh doesn’t spring up in an instant. Even in the first chapter of Genesis, things came in stages — first light, then the sun and moon, then preparing the dry land, then plants to sustain complex animal life…then animals…then humans. Six busy days of preparation, however long a day is to Almighty God. God could have zapped everything into existence with one word, but He did things in layers and stages. He developed and formed life. The acts of creation were acts of pure genius AND acts of great loving care.
And then I realized that a baby in the womb doesn’t form in the blink of an eye either. It needs a shelter, a secret place to gestate and grow. In the earliest moments of life, this creature can’t even be seen with the naked eye, indistinguishable from its “ark”…but then it grows. And even though this creature needs a lifeline through the umbilical cord, it grows to be so different from its surroundings that we can hardly believe it was once an invisible bump on the wall. When the baby outgrows the need for this cramped environment…there is a birth. Into a world this creature could never have imagined, through a process that is traumatic for both mother and child. Squeezing, pushing, stretching…and suddenly this alien, dry environment! And that first lung-full of air! Astonishing, frightening, but the child was built to breathe!
The baby doesn’t like the process of birth, doesn’t like leaving the familiar, doesn’t want this weird sensation of dryness…until the lungs taste the air. The baby can’t get enough of it — delicious oxygen. A pleasure never known before.
And then I realized that it was the same way with our spirits inside our bodies! Some have described the body “earth suit.” We need it in order to function on this planet, like a space suit, but for earth-space. Just as a baby needs those walls of flesh and that placenta to live and grow, we need these bodies to do the will of God on earth. After the birth, the womb shrinks and the placenta gets discarded. The new creature leaves it behind and never returns. The earth suit is so important that Jesus Himself came down from Heaven and squeezed Himself into one. He “…made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man” (Philippians 2:7). He took on an earth suit to fellowship with us and to die as one of us.
That’s how it will be with our earth suits! We need them as we once needed our confining wombs. We can’t move around on the earth without them. God equipped us with these bodies to do His will here and now. Because we live in a fallen world, our bodies are fallen too and disposable. We will exit them just as we exited the womb.
I’m not privy to all the reasons why my earth suit is God’s gift to me, or why this is the wisest and most loving way to equip me for my journey. But I now have a better grasp of the process that God is unfolding in my life. And I trust Him immensely more than I did before.
As we look toward honoring and celebrating Jesus’ birth into a human earth suit, let’s remember how we are made in His image, forever linked to our All-mighty, all-wise God. Just as He was faithful to send the promised Messiah at the right time to deliver us from our sins, He will also deliver us to the place He prepared for us…in our incorruptible heaven-suits. God bless you this season and always.
Father God, thank You for Your wisdom in forming human beings both out of the dust of the earth and in Your image. You thought of everything ahead of time — for Jesus to be with us so that, ultimately, we could be with You. I celebrate the coming of Messiah in an earth suit so that I might receive a heaven suit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.