Read Psalm 39
Sitting in a coffee shop, (The Copper Pot) and thinking on the brevity of life. The older I get, (about to celebrate another decade’s end), the truer these words feel. They, the words of this text, have always been true of course. But their impact on my spirit grows deeper as I watch the sand go through the hour glass.
I can look in the mirror now and see the ravages of time. Muscle tone is harder to keep. Pounds are easier to put on and harder to lose. Sleep is shorter. There is a growing thinness to a small circle on the middle-back of my head. The doctors have explanations for these things, these subtractions from an earlier vitality.
But I’m more interested in what God wants to teach me in this season of life.
And that’s when I ran across David’s echo of Moses’s wisdom from Psalm 90 (a previous post here). David sounds like he has been listening to the same Spirit. And of course, he has. And that’s why I need to receive these words for what they really are, the word of God, and the reminder that days are short for all of us. Wise people live differently in time than those who are foolish. Wise people pray prayers that are like verses 4 through 7.
4 “O Lord, make me know my end
. and what is the measure of my days;
. let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
. and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
. Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
. man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
. My hope is in you.
I need this. I need this slap in the face that this flesh I walk around in is fleeting. I need this reminder that it is “nothing” (v. 5), a mere “few handsbreadths”, a “shadow” (vs. 6), uncertain (vs. 6b), the whole of my life is a “breath” (vs. 5, 11). I need such a reminder because my soul leaks and I tend to think that I will always have tomorrow to redo what I didn’t do today.
It’s an illusion.
I need to take the measure of this day and use it now for the glory of God because every day, every moment is precious. Today is the day to love my wife, my children, my church family, my neighbors. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow.
There is one future event that is guaranteed. It is more certain than my next breath and yours too. It is certain, beyond all doubt that Jesus is coming back to receive His own to Himself. He is coming back to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). And because He is coming I want all my hope and dreams to be centered in He who is coming. So, here is another offering for The Poetry Project.
When I get to it
When this is done
When the stars are aligned
When my chores are finished
When my health is better
When my bills are paid
When my schooling is finished
When I’m established in my career
When the weather turns
When my strength is spent
In my old age
When I retire
When I have time to think
. as if we know how much time we have.
The follies of our when’s and ifs and somedays
. mount up from mole hills to mountain ranges
And we kid ourselves into thinking that they make sense
. that it is reasonable to not place You at the center of everything.
Give me a ruler, a tape measure, a scale,
. something to weigh out the days You allot
. so that I might use them well
And find all my joys in You.
Go to Psalm 40