“So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom … Oh satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:12, 14)
Life can be interesting at times, can it not? It might be hearing a voice from the past … reading something you remembered from years ago. It might be just the simple act of someone else doing whatever, that strikes a familiar chord in us causing us to pause and reflect on ourselves.
Our life is like a book. As the days go by we are turning the pages … we are writing our story. What kind of story are we writing? Are we writing a story that others would want to read? Every book ends … and it is this truth that so often bothers us… even scares us. How our book ends will be determined by who we have chosen to serve and follow!
Looking out my office windows upstairs, I have a wonderful and clear view of not just the neighborhood, but of the trees, the large greenspace where children can play, and even of where the creek runs through.
Down the street from us lived an older couple that by all appearances were still very active. They spruced up their immaculate yard in different ways and over time made improvements inside their house as well.
And then … the “For Sale” sign appeared. Then the word “Sold.”
Over the next couple of weeks, they moved their furniture and most of their belongings. But it was clear they still had a number of boxes stacked in the garage. During the last several days I noticed the older man going through some of those things … what they contained is none of my business … but they were obviously meaningful to him, as he sat from time to time just looking through the contents.
It struck me one of those mornings that each of us accumulates a great deal of stuff over the years, and unless you are a minimalist to the nth degree … you have stuff as well. And if or when that time comes for you to move or scale back, you will face the unenviable task of doing the same as our neighbor.
What memories will be brought back? What happy and even sad times will you be reminded of once again? I am presently engaged in the entirely unpleasant and difficult time in my life where I am no longer preaching because of numerous health issues and the time has come to purge some of my many old friends … those books I’ve read from … treasured … and conversed with in my own way.
Does it sadden me? Of course, it does! I miss studying and the preparation for classes, sermons, bulletins, etc. I am holding on to some, setting aside others for my grandchildren … and giving some to those I love, and believe will use them.
I sometimes wonder where those almost eight decades have gone! I know that the Psalmist was right when he wrote of Moses, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)
Our little time here on this earth is just that and each of us needs to make a difference in the lives of others when we can. Moses tells us by inspiration that life is brief as he prayed, “Teach us.” And because life is difficult, he also prayed “Satisfy us.” And because Moses was a man just like us, there were times when his work seemed futile, so he prayed, “Establish the work of our hands.”
The clear and comforting message is that by God’s mercy and grace, a person’s life can have value, significance, and meaning! Even as the apostle Paul would write, “Therefore, my beloved brethren. Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Back to the older neighbor sitting in his garage looking through personal effects … and the older author sorting through his library books and class notes and sermons … I am reminded of the words and the visual that I have when reading the inspired words …
“And as it is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Bill Fairchild, Jr.