As I grow older, I hear of the passing of those who have served as mentors in some way in my life. People who invested not only time taking me through the Word of God, but who also lived a testimony solid in every way. Some have been relatives; others strangers God brought across my path for the specific purpose of allowing me the influence of their testimony to impact my life. One thing I have come to understand - we all have "numbered" days on this earth. None of us is immune to the aging of our bodies! Try as we might to "hold back the clock", we all have to face the facts - life (breath in this physical body) ends at some point. When it is all said and done, what we leave behind is referred to as our legacy. Some will leave enduring legacies in the lives of many and know it. Others will be unaware of the tremendous legacy they leave - simply because they never really had that "out front" position in this life. I wonder what legacy we will each leave?
Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. (Psalm 90:12 CEB)
Our psalmist reminds us of a couple of important things today. First, we cannot number our days. No man or woman is "guaranteed" a certain number of days on this earth. We need to be conscious of what God wants us to do faithfully in this day we have been given for we never really know we are guaranteed another. Second, we learn to count our days as a blessing - an outcome of grace. In retrospect, we see the influence of grace. In the moment, we may not see more than the present challenge - but at some point, we look back, seeing the impressions of grace all along the way - kind of like footprints in wet sand.
I like how the Message translates this verse: Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! A teacher imparts knowledge. Knowledge taken in and applied becomes the instruction by which we "solve" life's problems, is it not? When the math teacher was trying to teach us the simple task of adding two plus two, she may have placed two pennies on one side of the desk and two on the other. In turn, she was illustrating the "truth" of how two plus two equals four. Most importantly to those being taught, they saw the evidence of "addition" - in the end, you had "more" because "more" was being added to the original. I think this may be what the psalmist had in mind when he asks God to teach us to live wisely. He may have just been asking God to show us what we have and what God is adding to our lives with each step we take with him. In turn, we have "evidence" of the "addition".
A wise heart is the end result of God's "addition". Let's not skip over the object being referred to in this passage - the heart. The heart is comprised of our mind, will and emotions. The most "unreliable" part of our make-up. Where the mind wanders, our emotions follow. Where our emotions take us often creates the biggest challenges for our will. Our psalmist is giving us some pretty awesome truth in this simple verse - if we have the ears to hear and the wisdom to listen!
It is in the "addition" of God's knowledge that we come to have a wise heart. To our feeble commitment to live obediently, to submit our emotions to his care and leading, he "adds" HIS "two cents". It is the "addition" of his ability which gives us the wisdom (applied knowledge) - allowing us to begin to bring reason to our emotions and true discernment to our minds. This is how our hearts move from being unwise to being wise - in the addition of God's grace.
As our psalmist speaks, he asks God to tell US how to number our days. In other words, he is asking God to remind us of what we have been given. To number our days, we are not looking back in regret, but seeing the path of grace marked out in the redemption from our past, and the steps which we take today and those which lay ahead serving to create a legacy of grace in our lives. The "numbering" of our days is a way of recalling blessing - seeing God's hand fully in control all along the way. Sure, we made some missteps along the way, but to each misstep, God added his grace - otherwise we'd not be taking these steps today!
It is the Thanksgiving season in the United States - a time of recalling blessings and dwelling on the greatness of God in our lives. Many have undertaking to making November a month of recalling blessings. In a way, they are "numbering" their days - acknowledging God's "additions" of grace in their lives. Some are thankful for family, friends, and relationships of all kinds. Others are recounting the deliverance from the grips of a crippling and life-threatening disease. Still others are stoked about the blessing of a new job, the faithful of provision all along the way. Regardless of the blessing, the heart moves from a place of taking these things for granted toward recounting them as the blessing of God in their lives as they begin to "number" their days through the eyes of God.
In the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many will again recount the many graces of God in their lives. In so doing, we are further acknowledging God's grace "additions" - focusing on the awesomeness of the greatest gift anyone could receive - the grace of God in the form of his Son given for our lives. I don't know the particular "additions" God has made in your life, but as we take a brief period of time to specifically focus on God's blessings during this holiday season, let us not forget to see the many times God's "two cents" really have added "value" and "worth" to our lives! Just sayin!