I walked into the Bible study and there he was… my husband ready to teach the class… wearing the worst combination of clothes ever. I remembered too late that I had forgotten to lay out his outfit the night before, and he had left really early that morning. Too late to change it now. I had to look at that combo for an entire hour, imagining what the other gals must be thinking, convinced in my own mind I was being held responsible.
Wearing mismatched clothing is the least of our problems in this life. Other kinds of wearing can cause all sorts of issues, even dangerous ones. Our son Jacob, a tire expert ever since his summertime job years ago, took us to task the last time he was home. “Those tires are totally unsafe! They are worn down to that last mark. You need to replace them immediately!”
Of course our children also had a different understanding of “wearing” when they were younger. They could try to wear down our resolve to be firm with their endless “Please, please, please.” It was hard to remain firm. It was exhausting at times. But unless it was just an arbitrary decision, it was important to stand our ground and not give in.
Under the gas pedal of our car there is a worn spot in the carpet, the result of constant rubbing by feet and shoes. It’s caused by friction, a natural law of physics.
But there is sometimes a hole worn in my heart. The hole caused by the friction of conflict, accusations, unrest, unresolved arguments. This isn’t found in any physics book, but it’s just as real.
Wearing can also be a sign of responsibility. “Wearing the pants in the family” used to signal authority in a household. With the coming of slacks in women’s fashion, it’s no longer as easy to tell who’s in charge, and that responsibility is often shared or handed back and forth depending on the situation.
Shakespeare’s famous comment in Henry IV Part 2 takes that earthly responsibility to the highest level. The sleepless king cries out, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” to no one in particular. And then he envies those who don’t share his problems and responsibilities and can calmly drift off to sleep. Yet we too have our own sleepless nights when our concerns keep us awake, wearing us down.
Charles Dickens wrote about the sad plight of so many people burdened down by the cares of this world. He referred to the destitute old people in the workhouse infirmaries as “wearing out life.” Some things… some people… just wear out from long, hard usage.
But “wearing” can also mean endurance…. something that will last under use or pressure or the passage of time. I’m thinking of all of those polyester shirts and suits that could wear for years… and years… and years.
On the other hand when we are the enduring fabric… the force that is immovable… holding on to the truth we are certain of… Christ’s promise of forgiveness and grace… we can wear out any attack. We can endure through the pressure, outlast the strongest challenge... when we wear His name.
And when we recognize our opponent’s arguments are wearing thin, becoming weaker, losing their effectiveness… all we have to do is endure in the face of the retreating foe, no matter how long or loudly someone insists and persists.
After all, isn’t that what our Christ did in the wilderness? Coming at Satan with the solid truth, the infallible Word? “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). The devil wasn’t done working on Jesus’ resolve. He wasn’t finished trying to wear Him down.
And Satan is going to keep looking for that opportune time when it comes to challenging me too. All I have to do is keep enduring. Not an easy task by any means. And I don’t like the idea of being constantly worn down, worn out, or even “wearing out life.”
I prefer a more joyful view, one that has the assurance that the Lord is right by my side. The one the Apostle Paul gave Timothy in chapter four of his second letter. He talks about keeping our head when under attack, enduring hardships, and encouraging each other in the face of opposition.
Paul also talks about my attitude though, something I’m constantly working on when I do stand firm, when I do endure. I’m to use careful instruction, not a sledgehammer of being right. And when I don’t think I’m making headway, I’m also to calm down “with great patience.” Oh, not just ordinary patience, but a whole new standard of endurance.
But then Paul talks about the good fight he fought and the race he’s finished. Racing and fighting don’t come naturally to me. It exhausts me to think about it. Paul obviously had a lot more energy than I have, and he was much more confrontational than I am.
But I can still capture Paul’s passion for our Lord. I can still be firm in my convictions.
Satan does his best to wear me down… wear me out. But that’s when I need to ask the Lord to give me the strength to continue.
The day will come when I will better appreciate Teddy Roosevelt’s comment about certain people who are nearing their life’s end. I hope it will be true that I too have “warmed both hands over the fire of life.”
I don’t want to leave this earth with a half-hearted, worn out approach to my life. Instead I want to know that my fight is over, my race is ended, and that I gave my all to my Savior.
Because He gave His all to me.
And in the end I will be wearing something very special… that wonderful gift to me… and you… and everyone who calls on His name…