Teach us to Number our Days

by Dr. Ken Matto

(1 Ki 2:1-2 KJV) Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, {2} I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man;

This past Monday I visited the doctor with my father to discuss the results of the radiation therapy that he received for his lung cancer. As I sat there I listened to the doctor explain to us that the radiation had very good effect. He had a 3 cm tumor on his lung which is now reduced to 1 cm. As I thought about writing this, what would be the reaction if the doctor said that there was no effect and he had 6 months to live. As Christians, we know that our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives are all under the authority of the Lord and nothing happens outside of God’s jurisdiction. When we received the call from his doctor last Friday that she wanted to see him and a family member, I thought I knew what it meant. He is 84 and is going to be 85 on March 6th. He is unsaved and he has stated he is not afraid to die. I think that type of mindset is drawn from the fact that unbelievers do not realize what awaits them after their eyes close for the last time. Of course, my father is of the old school. In fact, when we had the blizzard on Feb. 17, that night he was out there shoveling snow and we are talking about 22-28 inches

As Christians, we know that when our eyes are closed for the last time, it means an instant translation to glory. But when the eyes close on our unsaved loved ones, we also know what their fate is. Suddenly the things they do, do not drive us crazy and does not seem important anymore. Isn’t it amazing how humbled we can become when we know that death is paying a visit to our home? We read the obituaries in the newspaper and we are untouched because we do not know these people. We pass by a cemetery and we don’t give it a thought. We may even experience the death of a distant relative or a friend and it may not affect us mightily but when death comes to our home, it causes an evaluation of our life. We sometimes think that what if it was me that the doctor was speaking about? Have I done what I could with what I had to be faithful to the Lord on earth? I tend to enjoy visits to old cemeteries, especially during the summer. Whenever I look at the tombstones, it never ceases to strike me strongly that for every tombstone there is a life which is attached to it. Every stone a story.  A walking-talking human being was once as physically alive as I am now, at one time whether it is 100 or 300 years ago.

They lived. They laughed. They cried. They had good days. They had bad days. They suffered. They had enjoyment. In other words, they were no different than you and I, except they didn’t talk on their cell phones while riding their buggies. Some lived to be a ripe old age and some died as infants because of disease or bad situations. When we look at their tombstones, it reminds us of our life too as we go on until the Lord calls us home. Even if we have done great things on earth for the Lord, our life on our tombstone is going to be represented by a hyphen. It is what we did between the dates is what counts. Each funeral should remind us of our mortality and cause us to evaluate our life as the seconds tick.

We may not think a second is a long time but on May 1st, I turn 50 and if the Lord still gives me breath, that means I will have lived 1,577,836,800 seconds. (Psa 90:12 KJV) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

by Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847)

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Ps. 90:12

How perishable is human life, yet no one lays it to heart. With the magnificence of eternity before us, let time, with all its fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness.

In a few years our heads will be laid in the cold grave, and the green turf will cover us. The children who come after us will tread upon our graves.

They will weep for us a few days.

They will talk of us a few months.

They will remember us a few years.

Then our memory shall disappear from the face of the earth, and not a tongue shall be found to recall it.

"If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!" Deut. 32:29

O God, help me to live for Your glory. As the years roll over me, may I withdraw my affections from time, and feel that in moving through the world, I am moving toward eternity.

I hope I did not bring any of you down, instead I wanted this to be more of a sober uplifting for all of us to evaluate our Christian walk. (2/28/03)