Numbering Our Days
Some of us will take down the old calendar, pitch it in the trash and say, "Good riddance!" Sometimes the best thing you can say about a block of time is that it's finally over. Others may choose to save the 2013 edition because of all the blessings and beauty of the past twelve months. "What a year!" we say, and wonder how life could be any sweeter.
Perhaps most of us are living somewhere in the middle, between the positive and the negative, scrambling to manage the ups and downs, the highs and lows of everyday life and each passing year.
In the good 'ol USA our life expectancy is now 78 years of age, (81-female, 76-male). If you and I had been born in Botswana, the news would not be so good, a life expectancy of only 47 years. If we were Canadian, we would get bonus years, an average of 81.
If you are turning 65 this year, you can take heart in knowing that 1 out of 4 will live to be 90 and 1 of 10 will surpass 95 years of age. Now that's pretty old, but of course no one gets to choose the quality of those years either. Growing old gracefully is a rare blessing indeed.
So, to take notice and take stock, I did the math - a life expectancy of 78 years translates to 28,470 days. I will turn 54 years old in a couple of weeks, so I have already lived 19,710 days (most of which I can't seem to remember), leaving me a remaining balance of 8,760 days if I make the national average. My father died at the age of 60. If I were to do the same, that means I only have 2,190 days remaining, and this one is almost half over. Wow.
It seems to me that the most dangerous thing about life is the temptation to put our lives on autopilot, stuck in a mindless routine, coasting through life, squandering our gifts, wasting our God-given opportunities, missing those golden moments, heedless of the passing of time. All the while the sand falls through the hourglass, ruthlessly and remorselessly falling, as our days on this earth dwindle down to dust.
As a new year dawns, maybe what we need is not a few well-meaning and quickly forgotten resolutions. Maybe we need a whole new approach to life, seeing each day as the incredible, fantastic gift that it is. No more "someday." Only today, only here and now, only this moment, fully alive and in step with the Creator, the One who has numbered our days.
One man who was battling a serious illness put a big jar of marbles in his home with one marble for each week of his expected lifespan. Every Saturday he took out one marble and was reminded of the passing of time. When he poured out the last marble, still alive and kicking, he reversed the process, putting a marble back in the jar each week with a whispered prayer of gratitude for the precious gift of a new day, a new week, a new year.
Just one wish for the coming year for all of us - may we be fully alive in 2014 - seize it, use it, celebrate it, all to the glory of God.
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." - Psalm 90:12