The death of our son five years ago gave us pause over the brevity of life. The distance between our first and last breathes seems so far when you stretch them out. In the rear view mirror, however, those years appear as mere specks in time. Of the many mysteries of aging and time the one that seems most common in our species is the question mark about where it went, the time, as if it had been misplaced or lost in a dream. More that anything, the puzzles of time affirm an eternal truth: the distance between our first and last breaths is another breath. It is a significant biblical theme, the brevity of life. We must learn it's lessons.
The common life span is depicted in many ways in Scripture. Solomon saw endless days of vanity and meaninglessness in life apart from God. But, most references to time in the Bible are annotations and pictures of it's transience. Some of them include these references----
We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be
gathered up again.
2 Samuel 14:14, ESV
For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the
earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.
1 Chronicles 19:15, ESV
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to their end without hope.
Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.
Job 7:6-7, ESV
My days are swifter than a runner; they flee away; they see no good. They go by like
skiffs of reed, like an eagle swooping on the prey.
Job 9:25-26, ESV
Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.
Job 14:1, ESV
He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.
Psalm 78:39, ESV
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
Psalm 90:9, ESV
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Psalm 144:4, ESV
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind
passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
Psalm 103:15-16, ESV
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:14, ESV
Thanks, Sonny, for the encouragement! But, it is the truth, and you know it. How many times have you wondered recently where the time has gone. As our family grieved the past couple of months over the deaths of our dear cousins Thresa Owens Gilstrap, Hoyt Thompson, Carolyn Thompson, and our uncle Dr. David Owings, we've all been down that road. Life is a breath. What is more it is a precious gift from God that we should not abuse or take for granted.
That is perhaps why King David wrote, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, ESV). Of course the idea isn't all that complex. it's just being aware of our time, the brevity of life, the velocity that defines it, and making the best use of it. True wisdom involves giving a nod to the ever-beating clock and knowing the fleeting nature of our days.
Want to pause for a moment for a short, numerical look at the times of your life. I
post this web site link at least once a year so that my two readers can reflect on
their times in another way. It only takes a couple of minutes. Click right here for a
look at the number of your days in a little different format than the candles on
your birthday cake or snide jokes about another years passing.
Here's another short angle on the brevity of life. I believe God is always working in our lives. Jesus said, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working" (John 5:17, NIV). So, there is no waste. There is vanity, frivolity, nonsense, foolishness, and other departures from God's intent for us. So, the wise use of this time is the deal. And, being aware of it, and it's brevity, is one step along the short path.
Happy Friday. Be a blessing to someone today.