Life Expectancy; August 25, 2019


Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

It is fascinating that this Psalm is said to be “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” If that is indeed the case, it is downright ironic, because verse 10 famously claims a life expectancy of 70 to 80 years, yet Moses didn’t have his encounter with the burning bush until he was 80, and he lived another 40 years after that! It would all make sense if Moses wrote this before he had the commission from God to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. In any case, this verse is certainly a wise prayer. None of us knows how many days we have, as we are reminded quite frequently, but it is human nature to assume we won’t die soon, at any rate. A genuine “heart of wisdom” knows that our days are in God’s hands and lives each one in obedience to Him, however many of them we have.

Just this past week an acquaintance was leaving his house to go to his store, and said as much, and before he could get through the front door he collapsed with a heart attack and was gone, before reaching 60. I am reminded of a poem I wrote as a very young college student, that was greatly appreciated by my (much older) professor, that I called, Thoughts on a Bridge.

Time cracked his knuckles and waited for me,
Counting on his fingers the days and years I had left before me.
I did not heed him, standing there.
I simply leaned upon the rail,
And watched a lotus blossom, floating on the water.

I was certainly aware of mortality even then, and actually had a suicide attempt that very few people knew about. I didn’t have a heart of wisdom! When my father didn’t wake up after heart surgery at 64, my first thought was, “He won’t have to retire.” I live in Japan, which has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, yet we have people who drop dead early, like the man I mentioned. I am to be a good steward of the body God has given me and I am to use it in obedience to Him, whether He has work for me until 120, like Moses, or whether He wants to take me home today.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me live each day fully, with joyful anticipation of the infinite number of them I have ahead, however many of them are on this earth, so that Your plans for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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