Psalm 90:1-17: The eternal value of numbering our days.
| posted 8/06/2008
I happened to catch a song on the radio a few months ago called "100 Years," by a group named Five for Fighting. It was the tune that caught my attention at first, but the words were just as haunting. The premise of the song is that if you've only got 100 years to live, then 15 is a great age to be because you've got plenty of time—"time to buy, time to lose, time to choose." Twenty-two isn't bad either, as you're just crossing the threshold into grown-up pursuits. At 33 or so it feels like things are coming together—you have people in your life and work to do. But at 45 you're nearing the halfway mark, and time is slipping away. At 67 the sun is falling toward the horizon, and before you know it, you're 99, wondering where the time went and wishing you were 15 again, even for a moment.
When I heard that song, it brought to mind another song, a much older one. I don't mean from the sixties or seventies. I'm talking about one of the oldest songs in human history: Psalm 90. The Psalms, of course, were songs, and were to be sung by God's people in worship and reflection. Psalm 90, which is connected somehow to Moses, may be one of the oldest pieces of literature in the Bible.
Like the song "100 Years," Psalm 90 ponders the passing of time. The singer seems to be perplexed, troubled even, by the brevity of life. The way he figures it, we've got more like 70 years—threescore and 10—or maybe 80 if we're lucky. Whatever the number turns out to be, they pass quickly, he says, and before we know it, we've come to the end, and we wonder if our lives have counted for something, for anything. Has it all been trouble and sorrow, or will we have something to show for the years we've spent in this world?
That's a question we all ask from time to time. Not every day, probably, not even most days. But on certain days—when life slows down for a few moments, when the calendar flips from one year to another, when we blow out the candles on another birthday cake, when we hear of a celebrity who's passed away or of tens of thousands lost in a wave of disaster—we stop and think about the passing of time, about the meaning of our lives.
Rabbi Harold Kushner writes, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning … we want our lives to matter."
In our "40 Days of Purpose" campaign, we learned that one of people's greatest fears today is the fear of living a meaningless life, of coming to the end of their lives and having nothing to show for it. Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life, continues to be one of the bestselling books of all time. Millions upon millions of Americans want to live a life of significance.
That's what this new series is all about. For the next 5 weeks, we'll be discovering how to live "A Life That Counts." When all is said and done, we want our lives to add up to something—something that will last. As Christian people, we want our lives to count for God. If that's going to be the case, then we have to manage wisely the three primary resources God has entrusted to us: our time, our money, and our talents. We'll be looking at a variety of passages from Old and New Testaments, and trying to be as honest and practical and creative as we can be in exploring these areas of life.