The Brevity of Life
Life passes us by a lot more quickly than we imagine. I vividly remember the birth of my first child—and then it seemed that he was a teenager only a few weeks later. When we were children, just the time between December 1 and December 25 stretched out for years; now the years race by ever more quickly. Suddenly, we wake up older or we hear of the death of someone who was our age, and we realize that life really is very brief. We flourish for a time, but not forever.
As we age, our physical and mental abilities fade, old friends pass away, familiar customs which have been routine disintegrate, and our long-held ambitions lose their potential or appeal. These realities, though, shouldn’t drive us into despair but rather stimulate us. Like grass, we have a limited number of days, but there is opportunity in every one of them! As the Bible scholar Derek Kidner writes, “Death has not yet reached out to us: let it rattle its chains at us and stir us into action.” With the minutes that remain in our lives, we can lift up our eyes and look at the “fields”—at those who live and work around us and who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, who are not enjoying the steadfast and everlasting love of the Lord. As Jesus said, those fields are already “white for harvest” (John 4:35).
The Bible doesn’t encourage us to wait until we graduate or get married or settle down or sort ourselves out or retire before we start to serve Christ. Rather, it calls us to do so today. The wise person knows that we have limited time and that the best way to spend it is on the Lord’s errands.
So whether you are at the start of life, or feel you are in the prime of life, or are looking back at life, before the strength in your hands fails you and your teeth, eyes, and ears grow weak, will you choose to live all out for Jesus Christ? If you wait until tomorrow, tomorrow may be too late. As C.T. Studd once put it, there is…
Only one life,
’Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done
For Christ will last.
Therefore, look at your days in this life as the “grass” that they are. Spend them in awe of the God who will love you eternally—and spend them not building your own empire of sand but on the work of the only kingdom that endures forever. And pray that as you do so, the Lord will “establish the work of [your] hands” (Psalm 90:17), both today and throughout the year that tomorrow will bring.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
From Everlasting to Everlasting
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
1Lord, you have been our dwelling place1
in all generations.
2Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”2
4For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
7For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span3 is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17Let the favor4 of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
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