So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
A common question adults ask of children is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Children often answer this question with a career choice such as a Doctor or Fireman, etc. If you move up the developmental and maturational ladder, by asking the same question to college kids it’s more than likely you’ll receive a similar answer in terns of hearing about a career choice.
As I ask myself that question now that I’m less than a decade away from retirement, my answer is completely different and has nothing to do with a career choice. I’d like to be known and remembered for two things. First I’d like to be known for my capacity to love, and second I’d like to be known for possessing a heart of wisdom.
I suspect you can’t possess the former without possessing the latter. The Bible clearly says that knowing what it means to number our days will led us to a heart of wisdom. So what does it mean to number our days and what wisdom might we gain from doing so?
There is a healthy way to number your days and an unhealthy way to number your days. I don’t know why, but I always find it much easier to discover the unhealthy ways. For example I’m currently on vacation in Florida. As the days move closer to our departure day, I’m not only counting the days, I’m feeling very sad as I do so. Rather than enjoy my final days in Florida, I could easy waste and ruin the time by focusing my attention on the fact I have so little time left and immerse myself in my feeling sad and/or miserable about a wonderful vacation drawing to a close.
A far better decision is to accept the sadness and at the same time realize I have two full days left to enjoy. It’s important to ask my wife and myself how can we make the best use of our time. We can discover what we’d like to do and experience, before our time in Florida comes to an end.
To gain a heart of wisdom we can’t live our lives (or our vacations) as if we have all the time in the world. Time is one of our most precious commodes. I wonder how differently we’d live if we’d ask ourselves each and every day what would we do, where would we go, and what would we say to people in our lives if we knew today was our last day to live.
I once asked that question to a man with a type A personality. He said “I’d go to work like I do every day, but I’d bring my child with me!” His answer is a great example of an unhealthy way to respond to numbering your days.
Prostate cancer or any other potentially life threatening illness, (as well as the process of aging) are vivid reminders that life is short. As we number our days we can ask ourselves some important questions:
1. What do I want to accomplish in my life?
2. What must I do to make those accomplishments a reality?
3. How and what would I be remembered for if I died today?
4. Is that how I want to be remembered? If not what do I need to do to change the way I’d be remembered?
5. Are there things I need to attend to that I've been putting off?
6. Are there things I need to say or do before it’s too late?
7. Are there things I regret that I can do something about?
8. If I stood before the throne of judgement would I hear Jesus say:
'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you
ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' (Matt 25:23)
As you read this I have no doubt some very important questions will come to your mind. As they do, write them down. Set some new goals, take the necessary actions to minimize if not eliminate the regrets you have. Use the gifts and talents you've been given to serve and love other people. Learn to number your days to gain a heart of wisdom.