Something was rolling around in my head and I was looking for a good way to say it. I felt “brain-dead.” Here’s how it went:
• A High school friend on Facebook thought that her house might be haunted. The reason: every time she looked into the mirror some “old woman” jumped in front of her!
• I remember reading Psalm 90.10 when it was more fitting of my grandfather and then my father…
• Quote from my father: “It seems that like it takes forever to grow up. Once you have you turn around and you are old!”
• In the late summer long, long ago I remember hearing the song: “Those were the days my friend; we thought they’d never end. We thought they’d last forever and a day…”
Struggling with whatever was rolling around in my head, I decided to “take a walk” (ride down to the corner in my wheelchair). I enjoy coming down here to watch the birds and boats. Incidentally we live directly across Hampton Roads from the Naval Base. From here, one can usually view large cargo and Navy vessels. Usually, there are a lot more birds than ships.
Today, however, things are relatively dead. I did see a small flock of 5 pelicans (unusual) and a few seagulls. Not much boating activity either – one Jet Ski, one or two small pleasure boats, a couple of fishing boats and one large ship which appeared to be anchored far out– past the channel.
I noticed The war ship On the horizon when I was approaching the corner but ignored it for several minutes. Finally I looked again; it appeared as if it had not moved. I continued to look for birds – no eagles or ospreys hunting. Looking back towards the ship, I still detected little or no movement. This time, however, I fixed its position using a street light pole and stationary object on the distant shore. I continue checking for birds and enjoy the view of the water. Again, I investigated the ship. This time it had moved, but ever so slightly.
I continued watching the ship and “charted” its progress towards the Naval Station. Focusing my attention on the movement of the ship for several minutes, I observed that its headway was slow, steady, consistent and almost tedious. After about 30 minutes, its sluggish advancement was obviously notable – significant. The ship was pressing on to its destination.
At once I saw the parallel to my life: days, weeks, months and even years seem “oh so slow” at the time. Then all of a sudden, I realized the relentless passing of time. Psalm 90.10 is speaking poetically of the natural human lifespan when it describes it: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10, ESV)
As I said above, not long ago this seemed to suit my grandfather and then my father; now I’m staring face-to-face with the “four score and ten” of the King James Version. In other words, (to quote my father), “You turn around and your old.”
In this light, Moses writes: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (V. 12). The lesson is obvious. Our lives pass away very quickly, so we should go to God’s word for instruction in order that we might act wisely. Now, someone might be thinking that this is good place for young person – it is. But it is also interesting to note that this Psalm was likely written near the end of the wilderness wanderings of Israel. When Israel left Egypt, Moses was just over 80 years of age. The wandering in the desert lasted another 40!
And so here is aged Moses – well over 100 years old and probably closer to 120 years of age, asking God to instruct him on how he should live wisely. (Remember – Moses has likely written most of the first 5 books of the Bible by this time.) Yet Moses requests the Lord to continue working in him. It seems plain to me that we, like Moses, continually need God’s word and work in our lives. Apart from God’s word and spirit we wander away like lost sheep in the wilderness.
This lesson is for everyone, all people – young and old, you and me. We must always be attentive to the truth of God’s word and rely on the working of his spirit in us. We must order our lives accordingly.
Looking back over our lives, there are no doubt many situations we would like to relive. We have done things that we wish we hadn’t and not done things we should have. We have not always lived according to God’s word and have acted independent, selfish lives. Like the ship, our lives are slowly moving towards their end. And at the end of our journey, we must give account for our thoughts, motives and actions – all of them.
We all deserve to be punished for what we have done and not done. There is no way that we can throw our “ship” into reverse, backtrack and relive our broken lives. Even if we could, we would still stumble and sin. Like Moses (V.13, 17), we must cry out to God for pity and favor.
The pity and favor of God towards us is fully shown and given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus lived according to God’s word – he completely obeyed God’s law, fulfilled all its demands and prophecies concerning him. Then he died on the cross, not for his own sins, but for the sins of those who will call on his name. The steadfast love of the Lord is lavishly pouring out on us in Christ. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved – he and his household.”
We cannot back up and undo our sins, but in Jesus they are all forgiven! In Jesus we can rejoice and be glad for all of our days!