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Aside from those who supposedly have multiple personalities, all of us are two people in one. My favorite passage in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 makes our dual nature clear and also what our focus should be in light of that nature. Look at verse 16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Although the terminology of “wasting away” isn’t exactly pleasant to contemplate, over time its truth becomes more and more obvious. That said, the next part about daily inward renewal should motivate us to make sure we are doing just that. Spending quiet times with God isn’t just a nice idea; it should be seen as an absolute necessity.

We have an outward part and an inward part, the latter being made in the image of God. I recently told someone that I still felt like I was 35, although my body reminded me that I am 80. Why do we feel like that as we age, still young in spite of our aches and pains and wrinkles? Our inner person, our soul or spirit, doesn’t age. It doesn’t even sleep nor need sleep—that’s why you dream all night. The real you, the inner person, doesn’t need sleep and has been created for eternity. Death, biblically defined, is simply the departure of the spirit from the physical house it lived in, the body.

James recognizes this distinction in James 2:26. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4: “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Peter continues with the tent analogy in 2 Peter 1:13-14 thusly: I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” Tents are temporary dwelling places and thus an apt analogy to describe life in a physical body.

During the early part of my hospital stay, as mentioned, I was both hallucinatory and delusional at times. However, when people started talking to me, I somehow escaped that condition and reentered reality. And trust me, many people talked to me. Since I was in a teaching hospital, medical students came in frequently to interview me. Given my condition, I was shocked that that would even be allowed. But I gave it my best effort and answered their questions and added some advice. I was also shocked that I was able to engage in a coherent way and make sense in those conversations and many others with medical personnel.

The fact that I was able to do that, repeatedly, attests to the truth that we are in fact dual beings. My inner person was able to engage when my outer person was extremely sick. Quite an interesting experience, and a surprising one to me, but it shouldn’t have been. I am two people in one, and the part of me made in the image of my Father isn’t nearly as dependent on the other part as might be assumed. That was a cool discovery. While one part of me was deathly ill, the other part was capable of rising above that illness and carrying on as normal. Interesting—and impressive! We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, as Psalm 139:14 says.

The biggest takeaway from this insight should be to help us make sure our main focus in life is clearly on the spiritual side of it. Spiritual trainwrecks are likely results when this is not the case. Usually, the older we become, the greater the challenges. I have seen too many older people lose their way spiritually by not being able to handle those challenges, but it doesn’t have to happen like that. Continuing to grow spiritually by nourishing our inner person is the antidote. Don’t let your focus shift to the temporary; keep it on the eternal. Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 4:18 in these words: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”