Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:12–17, NIV
The trucks were gone, leaving behind a garage full of boxes—and me, standing in the middle of our possessions from six years of cross-cultural living overseas. Where did the time go? Time, my frenemy, had sprouted wings and flown away.
So much happened in those intervening years. Four graduations, two weddings, one precious grandchild, and the passing of both my parents. My son had deployed to Afghanistan and, praise God, safely returned. Countless other experiences of living immersed in two diverse cultures had radically changed me.
Reflection on that season made me keenly aware of the rapid passing of days and the brevity of life. The familiar words of Psalm 90:12 came to mind, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The ancient words of Moses convey the preciousness of our days on earth. His tone is urgent, and his desire is clear: to be a good steward of his time, guided by the wisdom of the Lord.
I love the way other places in Scripture describe our time on earth—as a mist (James 4:14), a mere breath (Psalm 39:5), swifter than a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6), like a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15). The writers understood that time is fleeting, and so is life.
The boxes in my garage were a tangible reminder of that truth. As I stood, surrounded by our belongings, I experienced grief and loss about the life I left behind and a great deal of uncertainty about what lay ahead. I was now on the far side of fifty, and I related to Moses’s urgent tone more than ever. How could I continue to make the most of my days? The answer lies in remembering His faithfulness.
The Father of Time had guided my steps during those six, short, life-transforming years. Whether in joy or affliction, His unfailing love and compassion were my constant companion, and He had established the work of my hands. I knew He would continue to do so in the present and the future.
Brothers and sisters, whatever season of life you are in, remember His faithfulness. He will guide you in making the most of your time. You will grow in wisdom as you rest in His unfailing love.
As they often do, the words of C.S. Lewis encourage me, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
I believe that is true, as we move forward in this earthly life and look forward to eternity.
Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a writer, teacher, and pastor’s research team member at Houston’s First Baptist Church. She is also a founding member of the HFBC Missionary Care Team. Shirley and her husband, Jeff, reside in Houston after several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific.