Living well when life feels short

Jul 28, 2023

Reading time: 3 Minutes

Happy grandparent giving piggyback ride to grandson

God’s Word shares a lot about the rapid passage of time. There is a season for all things and sometimes we don’t feel quite finished with the season we’re in before the next one arrives.

Cutting to the chase in his short letter to Jewish Christians, James the brother of Jesus wrote, “you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Even as a young child, I had a discerning awareness of how quickly each school year and the summers that divided them passed. When I moved from my little neighborhood elementary building to junior high, I quietly wrestled with the sadness of leaving something behind as I rode the bus and joined hundreds of other students from the city.

Though a little better prepared, those years acted just as hastily and I again experienced a sense of loss as I moved to high school with over 800 in my class – mind you not in the school but in my class. As if living in a coming-of-age movie, I had an early intuitive knowledge that the world we live in moves at a swift pace and the futility of trying to grasp or slow the sweep of time.

Not knowing the Scripture but feeling a sense that I needed to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16), I married and had children early by today’s standards. I emphasize today, remembering the mother of Jesus was a teenager and it wasn’t merely an acceptable practice for that time, it was acceptable to our eternal God as well.

Ready for a challenge, I started college on my 21st birthday, had a second child and plowed head on wildly chasing the wind of life. If I had known what FOMO was, I would have to admit I had a serious case.

I wonder if part of what Moses was feeling as he carried the incredible burden of leading a people who were uniquely chosen by God (Deut. 14:2), was how quickly the years were stacking up – even when the desert days may have seemed long. After acknowledging the wanderings of the Israelites due to sin, he poignantly writes “we spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:9b KJV). It’s a tale we continue to share and learn from to this age.

Known as a prayer of Moses, Psalm 90 shares his reflections of our everlasting God, present before the mountains were born, compared to men of dust who are like the new grass springing up in the morning then faded and withered by evening. Contemplating this, Moses writes, “So teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:12 CSB).

How well he seemed to know each new day is short and that we desperately need to know what and Who is important and make that the indwelt focus and purpose of our lives. Before moving on to write wise counsel about dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty—both verbs of endurance—Moses cried out to God, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love.”

So, I too write: satisfy us, O Lord. Cause our hearts to be filled with wisdom to know how to live each day so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days. Let Your favor be upon us; establish for us the work of our hands—keep us from chasing things without eternal significance. Establish the brief work of our hands!


As seen in the Christian Post.

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