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Teach us to number our days…

by | Nov 18, 2013 | Blog, Mission, Redemption, Theology, Worship

Today is the last stop on my farewell tour of the 30s. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about that this week.  Not sure why, but 40 feels like a bit of a milestone. I’m sure that’s self-imposed or culturally created.  Nothing in the Bible tells me that I should view 40 any differently than 39, and yet, it’s been largely inescapable over the last week. Tomorrow, I turn 40.

So, 40 years, here is the breakdown…

  • 2,080 weeks
  • 14,610 days (accounting for leap years)
  • 350,640 hours

I’ll give an account for how I stewarded each of these, and thankfully stand under God’s grace in Jesus as I do.

I’ve slept a lot of it. If I averaged seven hours of sleep a night (I’m guessing that college cram sessions and high school “sleep in Saturdays” would average out)—I’ve slept 102,270 hours. That’s almost 12 years of my life…wow.

I’ve had 858 weekends with my family (since being married). Most of those have included family breakfast and lots of eggs and pancakes…such blessings.

I love watching movies. Lord of the Rings—I’ve probably seen each of the movies four times. That’s at least 36 hours. Star Wars saga—who knows? Maybe 48 hours—Revenge of the Sith was really just out of guilt…but I digress. Marvel Movies (Iron Man to Avengers)—six movies averaging 2.5 hours and probably three times each—almost two days. A Christmas Story—I’ll submit that I’ve seen it at least 10 times—15 hours. Christmas Vacation—Let’s not even talk about it. That’s a little over a week of my life on just these movies.

I’ve eaten well over 40,000 meals. Don’t even want to know how many of them involved pizza. More should have involved green leafy vegetables sooner…

I started preaching in some capacity in 1994—should be better at it by now—but let’s argue that I averaged one per week and that my sermons averaged 40 minutes. That means I’ve preached 35 hours of my life. That’s 315,000 words on average.  I’ll answer for every one of them…so glad Jesus has my back on that too.

Psalm 90

When I think about my days and nights like this, it does start to seem overwhelming. But, in all of these moments, Psalm 90 has been true. This is one of the Psalms written by Moses, the reluctant leader (Exodus 3) who we get to watch grow over the course of the book of Exodus. And in this psalm, he seems to be dealing with the brevity of our lives; they are short. In relation to eternity, our lives are but a breath.

You return man to dust

          and say, “Return, O children of man!”

     For a thousand years in your sight

          are but as yesterday when it is past,

          or as a watch in the night.

     You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,

          like grass that is renewed in the morning:

     in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;

          in the evening it fades and withers.

(Psalm 90:3-6 ESV)

God returns us to dust. We are like flood waters, a dream, grass. Our lives are like the morning and evening that are so temporary and fleeting. (Have you ever watched how quickly the stars retreat when the sun rises? Our lives are like that.) Moses reminds us that our lives are just not that long in contrast to our great God who has existed since before the mountains were brought forth and formed the world. Our days are barely a blip on the radar screen of history.

Moses also observes that our days are typically 70 years—80 if we are strong—but even those days fly away and are gone. So, Moses does what I will do in a moment. He prays to this God who has been his dwelling place on every day of his life, in every generation of his people. And he asks some important things of Him.

Teach us to know that our days are numbered—that we have a limited time on the planet to do what God has called us to.  

  • Lord willing, I’ll have 40 more years…

◦       I’ll sleep another 11.5 years. Prayerfully, most of them will be next to my wife who has been patient with me for most of over 6,200 days. So grateful…

◦       I’ll have 221 Saturdays before TJ turns 18. 325 with Nathan. 468 with Corinne. 624 with Elea. I want to spend those wisely.

◦       I’ll get to preach another 2000 times. I want those to honor Jesus and bless those who hear.

◦       I’ll eat another 40,000 plus meals; maybe some will be pizza. A lot will have BBQ sauce involved. Most will have green leafy veggies; I’m not a ToysRUs Kid anymore…gotta grow up.

◦       I’ll watch The Hobbit for at least a day. Don’t judge.

  • My main prayer is that my life would be used well for God’s glory.  So, I want to learn to number my days and gain a heart of wisdom.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us so that we would learn to rejoice in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. I’m confident that the next 40 years will not be without pain and suffering. Those days that follow my death will be free from tears, pain, sin and shame, promising to include an eternal weight of glory…wow. But, those that precede it promise to be a mixed bag of suffering and rejoicing. My prayer is that God would make me glad, that even under the frown of Providence I might see His smile.

Show us Your work and power, so that we can walk with confidence on these days.  My prayer is that my life would continue to be used for God’s glory. I’m more than aware that if my life has brought God glory to this point it is only because of His work and power. I’ve learned over and over that apart from Him, I can do nothing. But, oh, God, remind me of your work and your power. I’ve got to believe that Moses was thinking about walking through the Red Sea when he wrote this—God, remind me of your power in delivering your people. May God remind me regularly of His power and work to redeem and transform anyone who trusts Him.

Teach us who establishes our work, so that as we pray, work, and live, we may do so with confidence and humility. Moses ends this psalm with a prayer for God to establish the work of His people. I wonder if Moses is asking for his work to outlive him, so that as Moses’ life ends, his influence and character and labor might live on. My heart is really not so much to be remembered as it is to be useful for King Jesus so that my labor lasts. I don’t want my labor to be in vain.

As I was reading, I noticed that Moses speaks a great deal about wrath in Psalm 90 (vv. 7–9). That’s no surprise. God’s wrath is real. And it’s deserved. For every moment I’ve wasted. For every day I’ve squandered. For every moment I’ve sought my own glory rather than His, tried to establish my own work, been angry rather than glad, forgotten His work and His power. For this reason, I’m more and more grateful for the wrath-absorbing death of Jesus in my place. For every moment Jesus stands in my place, absorbing God’s righteous wrath, so that I can be alive today rather than destroyed. Thank you Jesus for standing in my place—condemned.

So, Lord Jesus, may the next 21,038,400 minutes of my life honor you, not to repay your Gracious Gift, but to proclaim the excellencies of it.




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