When my three kids were young, older folks would wax nostalgic to me about the swiftness with which the baby and toddler years zoomed past. Back then, when I read the words of Psalm 90:12, I conflated their meaning with the sweetly nostalgic words of Ruth Hulburt Hamilton’s poem about savoring time with little ones:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait `til tomorrow
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
If you asked me then what I understood this Bible verse to mean, I probably would have said something like, “You only live once so stop and smell the roses.” While there is truth in those folksy sentiments, they do not truly capture the heart-cry of this prayer.
The very act of asking God to teach us about the brevity of our lives is how we learn to surrender our plans, dreams, and goals to God. It invites an eternal perspective on our temporal plans—a perspective that cultivates wisdom in our lives as we face each day’s challenges, no matter which stage of life we inhabit.
Michelle Van Loon is the author of Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith (NavPress). She’s written four books and has been a regular contributor to CT’s Her.meneutics blog. Connect with her at MichelleVanLoon.com, via Facebook, or on Twitter.