Numbering our Days

Reading: Psalm 90.1-6,10,12-17
It is fascinating how we relate to our age as the years advance. Some one has put it this way. If youíre less than 10 years old, youíre so excited about ageing that you think in fractions. How old are you? "Iím four and a half going on five!" You get into your teens, now they canít hold you back. You jump to the next number. How old are you? You might be 12, but "Iím gonna be 16." Then you "become" 21. But then you "turn" 30 - like bad milk? Then youíre "pushing" 40. You "make it" to 60. You "hit" 70. Into the 90s you start going backwards - youíre "just" 92. Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again - "Iím 100 and a half!"

Years ago I heard about someone who announced to his family on his fiftieth birthday that, from then on, his age was to be counted backwards. They kept the joke up across the years until he died. The bit of family fun couldnít halt the reality of an ageing body!

Psalm 90 is headed "A prayer of Moses the man of God." Moses is recorded to have lived to 120 years - "yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone" (Deut. 34.7).

The Psalm contrasts Godís eternity - "from everlasting to everlasting" (v. 2) - with the fragile and temporary nature of human life - "like the new grass in the morning... by evening it is dry and withered" (vv. 5-6).

The Psalmist writes, "Lord, you have been our dwelling place through all generations" (v. 1). The Lordís people are linked together by his faithfulness, constant love and protection.

We reflect on Hebrews 11 and the long list of "heroes of the faith" - "by faith Abel... by faith Enoch... by faith Noah... by faith Abraham... by faith Moses..." That chapter ends, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect" (vv. 39-40).

Believing in Jesus, we live in the days of fulfilment. We stand in that same line of faith - "Lord, you have been our dwelling place through all generations."

But our physical life is limited. We are mortal. "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90.12). We need wisdom for life - our present life wonít go on forever. In similar vein, Paul wrote that we need to be "making the most of every opportunity (KJV redeeming the time), because the days are evil" (Eph. 5.16).

Someone has said that "God has a number of things for me to do in this life, and I am so far behind that I will never die!" Thatís a good joke, but seriously - most of us will die with many things not done. We need a "heart of wisdom". We need to "make the most of every opportunity". As the old Latin proverb put it, carpe diem - sieze the day!

But, above all, we need to live under the favour of God - knowing his compassion, his unfailing love, his deeds, his splendour... "May the favour of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands" (v. 17).

Prayer: Loving Lord, life is your gift, and we can live it in your company, knowing your love. There is so much for us to see and hear, to enjoy and do. Too often we are drawn away from you, drawn away from what is best by what is good, drawn away from what is most important by what is pressing. Teach us to number our days, to make the most of every opportunity. Above all, teach us that we are not alone, that we can walk each day with you. In Jesusí name, Amen.

Time runs on ahead

In childhood days
seems to pass
so slowly.
Teenage impatience
cannot wait.
But as the years
roll on,
speeds up.
It runs on ahead -
I canít keep up!
Instead of looking
at what I want to do,
I am filled
with the knowledge
of so many things
left undone.

I need a heart of wisdom
to number my days,
to seek first your kingdom,
to know you
and to do your will.

runs on ahead,
but the Son
from all eternity
has gone ahead
and beckons me.
My times
are in his hands.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin BlueCare Devotions, 22 October 2002.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

Back to Sermons