Events of this past week in our state have punctuated the brevity of life and the unpredictability of when our lives here will end. My grandmother had a saying in Italian that translated into English said, “Life is glance out the window.” Grandma was not alone in her observation.
Scripture tells us that our lives are a vapor or mist that appear for a short time and then vanish (James 4:14). However, I do not believe that these words from the Bible or from Grandma were said to discourage or burden us with a sense of futility. It was given as an instruction of encouragement and wisdom to regard our lives as precious, to value each day and make it meaningful or positively productive, to treasure those in our lives with kind words and loving actions, and most importantly to make the decision that will affect the eternity of our short lives–that of accepting and following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In this past month, our personal life as a family has been affected by death from a variety of perspectives and relationships. I have taken advantage of these opportunities to stress with our young men the importance of evaluating the priorities in their lives and the place our Lord holds in their hearts. I’ve urged them to realize that we are not guaranteed a certain number of days. To realize that just because they are young and feel invincible, it does not mean that their lives will continue until a ripe old age of 80 plus years. Life can evaporate in an instant–and they need to be prepared for eternity.
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NIV
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’–before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark,…
“Remember Him–before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1-2a and 6-7 NIV
Yet our young men were not the only ones who needed to gain wisdom. I found myself pondering my own use of time. Just how have I numbered my days?
“Where have the last ten years gone?” I rhetorically questioned of Hubby. We had just been reminiscing with friends over the adventures from our 25th wedding anniversary. I was explaining to them how we had gone horseback riding, snorkeling, and sightseeing. On the way home, I dreamily wandered along the paths of that trip, thinking I could probably still indulge in those adventures because they were only a few years ago–and I could not have aged that much since then. That’s when it hit. I suddenly realized Hubby and I would be celebrating 35 years of marriage this year. I was stunned. The breath knocked from me.
Reality set in as we turned the corner to our street. What had we done of significance in these last 10 years? Routines–yes. Put up the Christmas tree. Take down the Christmas tree. Make dinners. Wash dishes and laundry. Clean the house. Go to Church. Infrequently visit with family and friends. But most of all, the main thing I recalled was WORK. My brain went numb.
Then Hubby reminded me that we had spent a good portion of that time with our young men. Watching them grow, counseling them, attending their sporting events, coaching them academically, helping direct their futures.
Still my spirit suffered the weight of insignificance and the lack of wisdom. Had I numbered my days? Or had I gone through the motions? Wisdom–had I gained it? Had I imparted it to our sons? Oh, yes, I had schooled them in the matters at hand and how to respond and act appropriately, but had I imparted enduring wisdom?
It is a realization that has me seeking the way to make each day count. To number my days with meaning. To fill my life spiritually and to spread that wisdom to others. To speak words of kindness, encouragement, compassion, and comfort. To love each member of my family without measure, without finding fault. To make the difference in life that God intended for me to do.
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” Psalm 39:4 NIV