To Number My Days – Essay

I recently saw a graphic a friend shared on Facebook. Here it is:

When I look at it, I think about Judy and I remember how she was when I first knew her.

We got to know each other in school. By “in school,” I mean middle school (we called it “Junior High”) and High School. We were young, knew it all and positive we were invincible. We were egotisticaly convinced, as most of us are in those years, we would live forever and never, ever become “old fogies” like our parents and grandparents! (Looking back on my younger self with my current wisdom, I think, “What a jerk I was sometimes!“)

Well, it’s been over 30 years since. In the intervening years, my classmates and I went our separate ways into college, marriage, children, careers and businesses. But in the last few years, through social networking sites like  Facebook, we’ve found one another, and we’re back in touch.

A strange thing happened in the meantime. I don’t remember it happening. I remember getting married, having and raising kids, being employed, owning businesses, seeing our daughter get married and start raising her own family, and all the other joys and challenges of my life up to now. But I never stopped to consider, except on birthdays, I was getting old. And my friends, too, as that graphic Judy shared so obviously pointed out to me. When in the heck did that happen?!?!?!?

We became what we as youthful Baby Boomers dreaded, the older generation. Not only are we over 30 (as in “Never trust anyone over 30.”), my classmates and I are heading for 60 faster than any of us care to think about or discuss. We, who used to so disdain our elders, are the old ones being disdained by the youth now. When in the heck did that happen?!?!?!? (One of my coworkers, who is our daughter’s age, when told of this revelation declared emphatically, “You’re not old!” Thanks, Rachael!)

In considering this revelation, only one conclusion came to my mind. I knew it, but in the rush and bustle of day to day living, I forgot. It’s an ancient truth, first penned by King David of Israel, when he said in,

Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Our days are numbered. Our time is limited. As young people, we deny it in the invincibility that too often is youth. We continue to do so until life forces its truth upon us, often in painful and harsh ways. That happened for me when the first of my school friends died when we were in college, a victim of a tragic accident on icy roads.

We are finite. We don’t have forever to work with, to see our dreams come true. Despite the motivational saying and the song from the hit musical Annie, there isn’t always a tomorrow. We eventually run out of them. We cannot count on them always being there.

So, what are we going to do with the today we’re given? Old or young, rich or poor, we all have to face that question. Best selling author of  7 books, TEAM LIFE founder and award-winning blogger Chris Brady visits this thought with his favorite quote,

“Our greatest fear shouldn’t be that we won’t succeed, but rather, that we’ll succeed at something that doesn’t matter!” (attributed to D. L. Moody)

These things that matter are of lasting value. Yes, we build fortunes and businesses to will to our heirs. But this is still temporal, since they could squander it, if we do not also teach them financial wisdom. We also teach our children and grandchildren the values and morals we hold most dear. And we work to see a faith life grow into them, to keep them in hard times and give them an eternal perspective.

Let’s do as King David asked God to teach us, and number our days rightly. And then, let’s use them for things in our life that matter. If we look at life that way, and work with forever in mind, then getting older gets to be not so bad, after all.