Do you ever play “Nerts”? I do. It’s one of the only card games I will play with my kids because it doesn’t involve any adding. I’m horrible at adding, and at math in general, which I used to feel bad about until I read about the life of C.S. Lewis and found out that he was really bad at math too, and look how much people like him. So anyway, as I was saying, Nerts is fun card game that involves building piles of cards in order. If you are stacking upon your personal card piles, you must stack them in descending order and you must alternate colors, i.e. If I had a black ten (of any suit), next I would lay down a red nine (of any suit), and so forth, and I could continue this descent of cards in that pattern. But, if I chose to lay down cards in the shared card piles in the middle of the table, I would need to start with an Ace of a certain suit and then stack cards of that suit and color in ascending order until I get to the King. Your main goal in the game is to get rid of all of your cards, upon which your cry “Nerts!” and you win the game. I explained all of this to you so that I could also elaborate on a spiritual truth that God revealed to me recently.
In her book, Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Horger Alsup says that, “We have an outward, earthly reality in which we’re perplexed, persecuted, and wasting away [descending!]…In contrast, we also have an inward, eternal reality that reflects our sanctification, God’s renewal and transformation [ascending!] of our depraved souls into children who mirror God’s glory. It is not natural for us to focus on what God is doing on the inside, but if we are to have any hope of enduring our earthly reality, then we need to “fix our eyes” on this internal reality.”
And here’s what I thought of: I thought of the game of Nerts! You know, the ascending thing in one pile and the descending thing in the other. Our lives, when we are Christ-followers are really like that. And if you think about it long enough, it’s super exciting. Because even though this earthly “tent” of my body is steadily billowing down—it takes a lot of work just to keep some air in the rain fly—my spiritual self—Christ in me—is just gearing up and getting better and brighter every day. Woo Hoo! That is encouraging news! I can work and fight and resist, but no matter how much I oppose the idea, my physical self is fading. On the other hand, if I work and obey and discipline myself to listen to God’s voice, my spirit will grow and become strong and victorious—and nothing will be able to hurt me. I am completely secure and safe in God’s hands. No amount of bruising and battering in my physical life can threaten my future because He has put the deposit of his precious Holy Spirit in me.
Still having trouble with them, there cards? Check it out:
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (Proverbs 4:18)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
…but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40:31)
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Earth+time = deterioration
Heaven+time = renewal
Now that’s math that even C.S. and I can understand.