Psalm 39:4 “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.”
I can’t say I was aware that this verse was in the Bible – it certainly wasn’t underlined – but the desire to know our lifespan is common. However, David approaches the question from a slightly different angle, that of reminding himself how insignificant he is. None of us know how long we will live, with the exception of people facing scheduled executions. Even people who have been pronounced terminal with some disease often live longer or shorter than the doctors expected. However, physical life itself is a terminal condition, and we do well to remember that. If we do not remember both that we are here for a limited time and that we are here for a purpose, then we will fritter away our time and lose a great deal, on many levels. We don’t like to accept that we are transients on this planet, but we do want to have a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment. That will not come fully until we accept that we are created beings; we are not here by chance any more than we willed ourselves into existence. To know our purpose, we have to know our Creator, and getting to know our Creator is actually our biggest task on this earth. We have many secondary tasks, and those differ with each individual, but the primary task for anyone ever born is to know God and respond to Him in love and obedience. Realizing that brings peace that can be had no other way, and it releases us from all sorts of pressures. God has indeed prepared tasks for each individual, (Ephesians 2:10) but He has also supplied the abilities and resources necessary for those tasks. If we will press in to know Him, then everything else will fall into place.
Recently finding someone dead, still seated at his dinner table, really brought this into sharp focus. He was 82, in declining health, and a firm Christian, so I’m sure it was a relief and even a joy for him, but dealing with everything he left (since he lived alone and had little family) has really driven home the insignificance of material things. I have already outlived my father and look well set to outlive my mother, but that’s hardly a good measure of the value of my life. My focus needs to be on getting closer to my Lord and being more accurately and instantly obedient to Him. There are things I would like to do and things I would like to accomplish, but all of those fade to insignificance when compared to knowing God. The thing is, one of the things I have been given to do is helping others know more of God, to draw close to Him as I desire to do. That is to be my second priority, after drawing closer myself. Everything else is to be evaluated as to how it relates to those two goals, those two purposes. It’s the second of those that makes me want to stick around on this earth. If my only thought were being close to God, then in heaven there’s nothing to keep me from Him. However, this life is the only chance I have to introduce others to the salvation I am experiencing, so I want to make full use of it. Along the way I have and will have various opportunities to tear down the devil’s works, (1 John 3:8) and I don’t want to miss any of those. With those priorities in place, I can live in peace and assurance for as long as the Lord keeps me here.
Father, thank You for all You are doing in, around, and through me. Help me recognize each specific task You have for me and do it with my whole heart, not being distracted by fluff, either good or bad, but keeping clear focus on You, Your kingdom and Your righteousness, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!