01 Dec Teach us to Number our Days
One of my good friends has in her living room a very large jar of marbles which are noticeable to anyone who enters her house. I remember when she got them I couldn’t help but ask, “Why the marbles?” To which she responded, “They each represent one week for each of my children’s lives up until they turn 18.”
I will admit that her answer took me by surprise and left me lost in thought. I looked closely at the marbles, each one representing to her something sacred – the time that she would spend with her kids before they became adults of their own.
What touched my heart was the very thing she was seeking to grasp through this exercise – life is a gift; her children’s lives are gifts, and her time with them as dependent children is limited.
At the heart of Psalm 90 this sacred truth of numbering our days is spoken as a prayer:
“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…
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom (vv.10-12).”
What does this look like – to number our days that we might grow in wisdom? Could it be as simple as acknowledging the sacred gift of life? The consciousness that our days on earth are numbered can serve us well when it unlocks a spirit of gratitude and intentionality for each day we have been given by God.
Appreciating the Expected
My seven year old daughter always seems to notice a specific cemetery we drive by every week in Washington D.C. Just last week as we drove by, she looked at the cemetery and said, “Mama, did you know that every day in the world someone is born and someone dies?” I said, “Yes, but it is closer to every second that someone is born and someone dies.” She was simply astounded by this fact and took some time to soak it in. I think we all were quiet for a moment as we considered just how big the world is and how fragile our lives are.
If you regularly read my blog, you know that my family faced more than one “close call” this year: Our entire family was in a severe car accident (but no one was injured), one of my daughters fell backwards off the top of a ten-foot high dock (and only had a few bumps and bruises to show for it), and my husband spent four days in the hospital during our summer vacation with viral meningitis (and thankfully totally recovered).
In our home at Thanksgiving this year, we had much to be thankful for, but I have to say that what I am most thankful for is the very thing it is easiest to take for granted – life. The expectation that I will wake up tomorrow is a strong one (I’m a healthy 38 year old) but not something I am taking lightly. The gift of my four little children crawling into my bed in the morning or throwing their arms around me with a “Good morning, Mama!” Is something I’ve grown to savor like gourmet chocolate. My husband’s smiling face as he enters our home after a long day of work is more precious to me than gold.
My two year old boy is growing each day in noticeable ways. He seems to have new words each day and makes little strides in his development often. But one thing hasn’t changed at all and that is his attachment to his Mama. After watching his three older sisters grow, I’ve learned this stage doesn’t last forever, so I’m soaking in it like the mid-day sunshine. And so I scoop him up and hold him close, rock him gently and sing him lullabies, savor his silky hair and electric giggles. And I marvel at his life – my life – our lives together. What a gift!
As we wrap up 2017 like a present under our Christmas trees, will we savor what is sacred? As this year ends, with its numbered days, won’t you join me in this prayer? Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.