Monday, August 31, 2015
Number your days
“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom,” prayed the psalmist (Psalm 90:12, NASB).
How, exactly, do you go about numbering your days? Is it even possible, when you don’t know how long you will live? The psalmist had some thoughts on that, too: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10).
Soon and very soon. The average life expectancy for Americans is 78.8 years (81.2 for women, 76.4 for men), according to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The 10 leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.
In truth, the leading cause of death is mortality. It awaits us all, even 18-year-old dudes who think they will live forever. Sorry, dudes, but insurance actuarial tables beg to differ.
Suppose you live to 90. Sounds like forever — until you pass the halfway point of getting there. I’m well past that halfway point, so this topic holds significant interest for me. But even if you’re a kid with “forever” in front of you, “numbering your days” is a useful exercise if you want to use them to serve God.
How will you spend them? Consider well; God is observing your choices. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil,” the Apostle Paul advised (Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB). You can spend them loving God and following Him, or you can spend them on yourself.
In these days of medical advance, your life might contain many more than 90 years. Or far fewer.
Kyra Karr, age 30, a missionary, wife and mother of three young daughters, died in a traffic accident Aug. 13 in her home state of Georgia. She didn’t have the opportunity to return to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband, Reid, began serving after their appointment in 2009.
This young woman had been sharing the gospel with others since she was a teenager. She had “found her groove as a mom raising her kids in Italy,” according to a missionary colleague. She was ministering to children through the church, helping new missionaries learn the language and mobilizing Christians in Rome to help women victimized by sex trafficking.
“Kyra was the aroma of Christ in Rome. We sensed it. We breathed it. We were blessed by it,” said her pastor in Rome, Leonardo De Chirico. “Kyra was a glimpse of what it means to be absorbed in Christ.”
“I think her life would encourage anyone considering missions to go all out, to not waste time, to pursue it because we don’t have a promise of tomorrow,” said another missionary.
No one is promised tomorrow. Shakespeare grappled with that reality in his sonnets, which are essentially meditations on time, death and love. Which is stronger? “Love’s not Time’s fool,” he wrote in Sonnet 116. “Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
Perhaps Kyra’s Karr’s hours and weeks were brief. But she numbered her days well.
(Interested in spending your days serving God and His global mission? Explore the possibilities.)