Lifespan; June 28, 2021

Psalm 90:10 The length of our days is seventy years–
or eighty, if we have the strength.

I find it deliciously ironic that this is from a Psalm introduced as, “A prayer of Moses the man of God.” Moses didn’t lead the Israelites out of Egypt until he was 80, and he was active for a full 40 years after that! The thing is, we don’t know how long we will live, and it messes us up to worry about it. This Psalm in general, though it starts with a beautiful declaration of the sovereignty of the eternal Creator, is pretty dark and pessimistic. As a prayer, verse 12 seems to me to be quite good: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The thing is, since we don’t know how long we will live, this comes down to the wisdom of being aware of our mortality, and so making the best use of each day. That’s not to say we are to be driven to accomplish stuff, but rather that we should ask our Creator how we are supposed to use each day. Even Jesus took His disciples aside for rest from time to time. However, each of us exists for a reason, and fulfilling the purpose for which we were created is the only way to real peace and satisfaction. The one common purpose each human being has is to seek and find God during their time on earth, whether that be short or long. Secondary or tertiary to that, each of us has assorted unique tasks that God has in mind for us, and the more of those we fulfill, the more joy and satisfaction we have. A danger we all face is in thinking different people are to have the same task. Often our individual purposes are complementary, so we work together and find joy in doing so, but still, no two people have the identical function. Being forced to do someone else’s job is bondage, and trying to get other people to do your job is frustration! We are prone to try to mimic people we admire. That can be educational, teaching us things about self-control and the like, but it has real limits. We are to learn from whatever sources the Lord provides, but our path is ours alone, laid out by our loving Creator. Precisely because we don’t know how long it will be, we need to be faithful and obedient, rejoicing in and being grateful for each moment the Lord gives us on earth, whether that moment seems enjoyable or not.

This is very pointed for me, since I’ve already passed the lower limit mentioned by Moses. As a matter of fact, my paternal grandmother, on reaching 80, decided that was enough, and though she didn’t commit suicide, she died within the year. I don’t want to do that sort of thing! On the other hand her son, my father, didn’t wake up physically from heart surgery at 64. Many people said his life was “cut short,” but as another Japan missionary who visited him in the hospital the day before the surgery said, “I never saw a man with more reason to live, or more ready to die.” (That missionary, incidentally, died not long ago, well past 90.) In another couple of months I will have reached the age at which my mother graduated to heaven. There is nothing in my current health picture that would indicate I don’t have quite a few years left, but the point is how I use them, however many or few they might be. Yesterday I spoke on “Prayer of Commitment” from Romans 12:1, including Jesus’ remarks in Luke 9:23-24 about taking up our cross daily. My task each day is to seek my cross for that day, surrendering my life for my Lord so that I may gain it for eternity.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that my life is in Your hands, and I don’t need to be anxious about it. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice, just as You have told me to do. May I fulfill every one of Your purposes for me, 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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