According to the latest statistics from the Social Security Administration, I have 29.84 years left to live. That leaves me with approximately 10,899 more days, which sounds like quite a few until you consider that I’ve already lived 18,195 days. By statistical probability, my life is well more than half over, and I am rapidly approaching the 2/3 point (I’m at the 59.9% mark, according to the actuarial tables). I have also been a pastor for 22 years. It is likely that “career” also is more than half-way completed.
I’m not trying to be morose. But it is good to consider one’s life, to contemplate not only its effect and influence, but also its duration. “How much time do I have left to accomplish what God has given me to do?” That is part of what the Psalmist Moses desires when he asks of the Lord, “Teach us to number our days…” (Ps. 90:12).
As Matthew Henry noted,
We must live under a constant apprehension of the shortness and uncertainty of life and the near approach of death and eternity. We must so number our days as to compare our work with them, and mind it accordingly with a double diligence, as those that have no time to trifle.
But Moses’ request is more than just a desire to figure out statistical probabilities about the duration of his life. The reason he wants the Lord to teach him to number and consider his days is so, “That we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (v. 12b). More than wanting to figure out how much time he has left, Moses wanted to use whatever time he had left to live wisely with the Lord.
Are we living with understanding not only about the brevity of time (e.g., 1 Pt. 1:24), but also the fleeting nature of our opportunities in this brief life (Eph. 5:15-17). Are we laboring to build biblical and godly spirituality in our lives and in the lives of those we influence? Are we working for the progress of the gospel? Are we choosing to engage in activities that have lasting impact and shunning those things that are temporal? Are we building live and ministries that will result in reward from the Lord in eternity (1 Cor. 3:10ff)?
In summary, consider Charles Spurgeon’s admonition:
Men are led by reflections upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things; they become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be their bed, their passions cool in the presence of mortality, and they yield themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom;…It is most meet that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated by wisdom’s hand. A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this…