By Robert Halsey Pine
“So, teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90 NRSV).
We have all considered just how short our lives are on this earth – but usually not until we become old or have some life-threatening situation. This prayer of Moses puts us in our place. In the great scheme of things, we are each a grain of sand on the ocean floor. So, we need all the help we can get. Our days and years fly by. Moses asks God to “teach us to count our days.” And why? So, “we may gain a wise heart.”
As I neared retirement, I received a document from Social Security in the mail. It listed my Social Security earnings year by year and what my benefit would be based on this history and an assumed projection. The thing that really hit me when I looked at this information was how short my work life had really been. I was shocked at my earning levels in past years. I had forgotten about those years when I started my work life and my income was very small. The sum total of all years worked just didn’t give me the benefit that I was expecting. My sense of how long I’d been working and making money just didn’t match the real history.
That’s how it is with this worldly part of our life with God. It seems a lot longer than it really is, and by the time we understand, it’s late in the game and hard to play catch-up. So, Moses knew what he was praying for when he asked God for help in counting days. He knew the right path to spiritual wisdom.
Every day we live is like a stone used to build a temple to God. A bad stone can greatly undermine the integrity of the temple. How are our temples doing? What’s the stonework look like? Just like the stones in the temple, there are only so many days that build a life. Our spiritual good day, bad day ratio can vary. We’d better echo Moses’ prayer. We need help counting our days. Faulty temples pain God. He wants us to have a wise heart and to continually come closer to Him.
Dear God, teach me to look at each day as an important building stone in my life temple. Teach me to fashion each day’s stone so that it strengthens my life temple, glorifies You and becomes a source of spiritual wisdom for me. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.