“O Lord, make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:4-7 ESV
There is a beautiful historical cemetery close to where I live, and it’s one of my favorite places to relax, go walking, or spend time in reflection. I don’t just mean that I appreciate the landscape or the unique headstones or the massive oak trees. I mean that I’m captivated by the names, lifespans, and accomplishments of the people whose bodies rest below the ground I walk on.
I hope that doesn’t sound too morbid—I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. Or maybe I do, on second thought. I think we have become indifferent toward the reality that our souls are eternal but our time on Earth is not. We stop celebrating birthdays because they remind us we are aging. And we spend ludicrous amounts of money on products that promise to hide the fact that our bodies are wasting away year after year, when the undeniable truth is that they are.
Each second that God puts breath in our lungs is a gift, because at some point in the surprisingly near future we will inhale and exhale one last time, and then our souls will depart from this world. Human life is so fragile, and so fleeting (Psalm 144:4). What we do with that gift is important. Let’s stop wasting our time on worldly things. Let’s stop exerting all our energy and our focus on our own selfish agendas. None of those things really matter in the end, which is coming faster than we like to think. What does matter is what we do and say and accomplish in light of eternity.
Father, I want to have the mindset of the Psalmist. Humble me and show me that my life is a mere breath in the span of all eternity – let alone all of human history. Help me to cherish each day and each moment as a gift from You. I want to be thankful for my life, but I also want to realize that I am merely a steward of my body, my time, and my talents, and that my life really belongs to You. Work in me, that I might use those gifts to glorify and enjoy You above all else.
How does the reality of your human morality alter your perspective on your current habits and pursuits? What needs to change in order to make your short life on Earth more fruitful?