Her roles on the silver screen had made her an iconic sex symbol, and now, as she posed for the cameras these decades later, I recognized her as one of Hollywood’s most idolized stars.
Her persona had been developed in sultry movies of year’s past, and she still glowed, even now, with a practiced confidence and glamorous air. Her looks were still stunning — in fact, her beauty surpassed that of most 33-year-olds. But as I gazed at her red-carpet picture and read the accompanying caption, I decided the photographer must have gotten his information wrong — the words couldn’t be true! For the caption didn’t say she was 33, or even 53. She was now 73.
How could that be possible?
How on earth could her smile and skin and hair color look like that? How could she so out-match any woman 40 years her junior? Seventy-three year-olds have grey hair and wrinkles, don’t they? Gravity takes its toll on all body parts by 73, doesn’t it? Even with crazy amounts of exercise and mega vitamins and a perfectly-styled wig, no one looks like this.
Her smooth-skinned glow must be magic wrought by a highly-skilled plastic surgeon. She must spend enormous amounts of money and time to maintain her youthful sex-appeal.
I wrestle through various thoughts as I gaze on her enviable loveliness, but I land on this:
I hurt for her. I wonder if she believes Satan’s lie. He would tell her that this is all there is.
- He would tell her to spend her money on that which does not and cannot satisfy (Is. 55:2.)
- He would tell her that power and approval gleaned in the here and now are all that matter.
- He would whisper that she had better grab for every red-carpet rush of admiration she can claim in this life.
- He would say that her value and significance are based on her earned place in the pecking order of humanity.
I know, because I’ve also heard his lies. And you probably have, too.
You may not seek validation through beauty. The lies you hear may center around the need to prove your worth through expertise in your field (being the best teacher or CEO or parent) — for after all, if you don’t prove yourself worthy you are a failure and your life amounts to nothing. You’ll die and be forgotten. You must stay at the top of your class. You must achieve and prove your value.
And if this is really all there is, Satan is right, and we’d better work to be the most knowledgeable or the most beautiful or the most something.
We should seek to bask in the fickle glow of other’s worship. We should spend inordinate amounts of money and time on the person we’ve created ourselves to be (in order to impress other created beings who are simultaneously trying to impress us.)
We’d better not let up.
But, if there is more, we’d better listen to God’s words to us. His are words of compassion, meant to shake us back into the real Reality.
“Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live … Seek the LORD while he may be found; Call upon him while he is near.” (Is. 55:3,6)
And as we hear and seek Him, He tells us how to respond.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:1-2)
Or, Paul Tripp puts it this way:
This present life is not all there is. There is a forever on the other side of this life … What if this present life is not a destination but a preparation for a final destination? (Paul David Tripp, Forever, p. 14, Zondervan)
Today, I’m not headed to the plastic surgeon. But, will I make decisions as if this life is my final destination? Will I believe the lies that send me scurrying off in search of self-validation? Or, will I live as one who’s been given eyes to see that this life is preparation for the next? Will I seek the Lord? Will I move throughout my eyes-set-above, intentionally-lived day with spiritual ears alert, set on God’s life-giving truth to me instead of Satan’s lies?
For despite what we see and hear all around us, this is not all there is.