During our sabbatical, two attention-getting events happened related to the passing of time. First, I turned 70 back in December and, secondly, we had five friends/supporters die during the five months of our sabbatical. As of this week, a sixth dear friend, mentor and supporter has passed away.
In light of these realities, I’ve been struck by words from Psalm 90:10 & 12. “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures… for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We’ve all had the common experience that in the earlier parts of our life the years don’t seem to pass quickly. In fact many things seem to move agonizingly slow. But as we age we’re increasingly aware of the fast passage of years, aware of the truth of the Psalmist’s words – “…for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” When I turned 70 I found myself musing, “How did I get here so quickly? It seems like only yesterday I was graduating from college.”
Against this backdrop of the quick passage of life comes the exhortation, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It seems that being aware of the brevity of life and gaining wisdom for the living of life are tied together. What might be some expressions of this wisdom?
First, I believe this wisdom can be expressed in truly treasuring and valuing each day – receiving each 24 hour block of time as an amazing gift from God. When something comes to us on a regular basis, like our days, it’s so easy to take it for granted and not fully embrace all the good gifts that are in it. The exhortation isn’t to number our weeks or months or years, but to number, value, treasure, count as important our days – each one. The words in Psalm 118:24 say it well – “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Wisdom could also be expressed in being about those matters which are important in each day. People talk about having a “bucket list,” things they want to experience before they die. Perhaps we could think about having a “bucket list” for each day – that which lines up with the Lord’s heart for that particular day. A few of the things the Lord may want on our individual “bucket list” for any given day could include:
- Being interruptible – it’s interesting to me that several of the Lord Jesus’ most significant interactions with others in the gospel accounts took place in the context of an “interruption”. In the Lord’s daily “bucket list” people are more important than projects.
- Affirming a friend or family member – thanking them for what they do and what they mean to us – in tangible ways expressing our love for them. In Hebrews 3:13 we read – “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’.” Encouragement is to be on our daily “bucket list”.
- Resting in the Lord – a high priority the Lord has for each of us each day – resting physically, emotionally and spiritually. “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation;” (Psalm 62:1, 2). In the midst of years that are passing quickly, these and other daily “bucket list” items are expressions of living with the wisdom which comes from God.
More about Ralph
One Challenge was blessed to have mission pastor Ralph Anderson, and his wife Joyce, at OC International for over 20 years. They tended to our souls through the Word, prayer, counsel, and encouragement. In 2020, Ralph handed over this role to Gill, another great man of the Lord, who is walking alongside OC workers in their ministry journey together.