Lord, Teach Us to Number Our Days

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

Some may consider it a morbid thing to think regularly about death. However, the Scriptures constantly direct our minds to the reality of our mortality. Why? Because thinking about our departure from this world leads to thinking about our entrance into eternity. And thinking about our entrance into eternity leads to thinking about our present manner of life. What are we putting our focus, time, and energy toward? Are we passionately pursuing the “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2)? Or are we consumed with transient, perishing things that are below?

Every Christian reading (and writing!) this article understands that his or her exit from this world is certain—whether that happens at the moment of physical death or Christ’s second coming. But I think many of us would confess that our hearts do not usually function like this is true. As with many other things, we are forgetful of this reality. We operate in this world as if our transition into eternity is not actually going to happen, or, at best, we think it’s so far away that we need not be that concerned about it today. Instead of pursuing and building up the “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28), we pursue and build up our own little kingdoms. We prioritize our safety over Christ’s mission, our reputations over the proclamation of his gospel, our financial security over his command to live generously, our comfort over his will—on and on we could go.

In Luke 12:16-20, Jesus told a parable about a man whom I fear might resemble many of us. This wealthy entrepreneur found all his meaning in his earthly business and all his comfort and security in his earthly goods. He said to his soul one night, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God came to him that same night and said, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

I’m not sure about you guys, but I don’t want to be like this man. I don’t want to “forget” that I am going to see God face-to-face and have to give an account for how I lived my life. I want to be acutely aware of how brief my time in this world is and labor for the things that last! I want to believe the Word of God when it says man’s “days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone” (Psalm 103:15-16). I want to remember that I am merely “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James. 4:14). I want to “number [my] days that [I] may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Wisdom believes what is true and responds to that truth accordingly. May God give us all a heart of wisdom that 1) believes the day when we will enter his eternal presence is quickly approaching, and 2) respond to that belief by living for the things that won’t be taken away from us when we are taken away from this world.

  • Lyle Nelson

    As I write this, it has been six days since my 97-year-old mother was buried. But for the issues Matt raises, the time of death is really immaterial. The questions are the same if we die at age 97 or tomorrow. The pastor who preached the sermon for that funeral pointed to the casket, which was beside the pulpit, and said something like “One day each one of us will be in a box like that. Are we ready?” The text for the sermon for that funeral was from Proverbs 3:6: “”In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”, which was her confirmation verse at a tiny country Lutheran Church in 1933, some 84 years earlier.

    But that advice is the same today as it was 84 years ago and as it will be 84 years from now, and every day in-between. God never changes. It is, and always will be, important that we acknowledge His role in everything we do. And if we do that, He promises to make straight our paths, i.e. He will tell us what to do in each situation and decision that comes up., and our path in life will lead straight into heaven. But if we follow another path and another god, our path will lead straight to Hell. I know that sounds harsh, in a “fire and brimstone” kind of way, but it is the raw, unvarnished truth and we cannot avoid it.. And we don’t know, in fact the odds are that we wii not, have until age 97 to acknowledge God and to get on that straight path to heaven. The decision point may come before the day is over.

    Don’t wait; make the right decision now, before it’s too late.

  • On September 24, 2012, I had a massive stroke. I should have died, but I didn’t. There were no tunnels of light. The Virgin Mary did not hover over my bed. There were no visions of hell. The archangel did not appear before me that I had to repent of my ways. It was just blackness, me and God, and He let me sleep. There was a lot of discussion on what to do with me. The doctors still can’t figure out why I survived. Me either, except to say that God wasn’t finished with me yet.

    He didn’t condone the way I lived my life; far from it. But He did give me a second chance at life, to get it right this time. I’m not wasting it!