I hope that’s not a news flash; the fact that our days our numbered. This morning in Psalm 39, David gives us pause to consider just how fleeting human lives can be:
““LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.” (Psa 39:4 NLT)
In our modern era, we do anything we can to distract ourselves from the fact that our days are numbered. We worship youth and appearances. We keep ourselves so busy that we don’t have time to think about eternity, we’re just trying to make it through today.
But occasionally, life has a way of reminding us that we are finite. Perhaps it’s the death of a friend, the diagnosis of a doctor, or a tragic accident that takes someone way before their time. Try as we might, we can’t escape this fact: our days are numbered.
So my question today is, what do you do after realizing your days are numbered?
The Principle of the Path
I believe Andy Stanley coined this phrase, but the idea is that we need to look beyond our present to see the natural progression of our actions. In other words, if I continue to do what I’m doing, where will I end up? (Not rocket science, I know… but I’m constantly amazed at how few people are looking ahead to connect the dots between what they’re doing, and where that’s taking them)!
David employs this principle in verse 6:
“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.” (Psa 39:6 NLT)
We tend to think that busyness and the “tyranny of the urgent” are modern maladies. David shatters that idea by pointing out the fruits of a busy, hurried life. Sure, it can make us feel important, it can even be exhilarating to be constantly on the go. But where is it taking us?
Ironically, David’s son (King Solomon) arrives at the same conclusion.
Solomon was the wisest King Israel has ever known. At the height of Solomon’s reign, the Kingdom of Israel was never bigger… never more beautiful. People came from all around to marvel at the sights and at Solomon’s wisdom.
I imagine it was a time of “busy rushing.”
But notice what Solomon has to say about it:
“I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Eccl 1:14 NLT)
I think Solomon expresses what many of us feel at some point: what’s it all about? And like many of us, Solomon sets out to “seize the day,” or as the current trend says, “You only live once!”
- He pursues pleasure… and finds it wanting
- He pursues wealth… but finds it empty
Now, here’s the thing: we read Solomon (and David) after the fact. But we live our lives in the midst of “hurried busyness.”
To put it another way, we’re in the midst of pursuing pleasure (“Seize the day!”) because we haven’t pursued it long enough to find it wanting. We’re in the midst of piling up wealth, because we haven’t yet truly acknowledged that not only is it impossible to take our wealth with us, but we have no control over what happens to it when we’re gone.
Both in David’s and Solomon’s cases, the wealth and prestige they brought to their families ended up creating dissension and disaster. Families in turmoil… Kingdoms in ruin… God ignored.
In their stories, we can see the ends of “hurried busyness” and heaping up wealth. But in the midst of it all, we’re blind to the path we’re on.. unless we employ the principle of the path.
Solomon eventually gets it in the end, but by then, the damage has been done.
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Eccl 12:13–14 NLT)
As for me, I acknowledge that my days are numbered and that life is fleeting. However, I add a phrase to the end of that statement because of the hope that Christ gives me. My version goes like this:
My days are numbered, and life is fleeting… in this world.”
So, rather than pursue temporary things for a temporary life, I’m trying to pursue lasting things for an everlasting life. I’m trying to re-evaluate what my best use of time, money, and effort is in light of the eternal. And while I agree with Solomon that we should obey God’s commands, I can’t help but think there’s got to be a more positive way to say it.
If only I could come up with a motto to live by that would put me on a path worth following… a path of eternal significance…
“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37–40 NLT)