“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” – Psalm 90:12
NUMBERING OUR DAYS
It was the middle of April, and my wife and I were on our way from Texas to Virginia for her to graduate from Physical Therapy school. We were making a pit stop in Kentucky along the way to help break up the trip and to visit my family for a couple of days.
A few hours into our journey, my phone rang. It was my mother, no doubt checking to see how much longer she would have to wait to see her firstborn son and her favorite daughter-in-law.
But this phone call was different. The tone in my mother’s voice immediately alerted me that this was not about our present location or our ETA. It was something much more serious than that.
My mother was calling to let me know that our family would never be the same. She was calling to remind me of the brevity of life. She was calling to inform me that something was wrong with her father, my grandfather, and that they were heading to the ER immediately. By the time my wife and I arrived in Kentucky later that evening, the diagnosis had been determined. My grandfather had brain cancer.
In the months that followed, I visited with him every chance I could. Despite living 12 hours away, I was able to spend a considerable amount of quality time with him during a few short stints in Kentucky. Each time I said goodbye, I told him to keep fighting so that I could see him the next time I stopped in. And each time, he promised me that he would do just that, and that he would see me soon.
Each time I left, I expected to get to see him again. He had a successful surgery to remove the tumor in his brain. His chemo and radiation treatments were going well. He continued to fight and seemed to be progressing his way up the mountain that is the recovery during the fight against cancer.
Until one day, my phone rang. And the reminder of the brevity of life was one that I knew all too well. My grandfather had taken a turn for the worst. And suddenly, he was days away from taking his last breath.
As my grandfather’s life came to an end, memories of my time with him flooded my thoughts. I remembered the meaningful events, the good times, and all the funny stories that I could tell about him.
But as often as I thought about these memories, I couldn’t shake the weight of how quickly life can be taken away. I couldn’t stop thinking about how we so frequently take for granted the moments, the days, the years of life that we are given.
I couldn’t shake the thought that everyone will go to sleep tonight fully expecting to wake up in the morning.
But that’s not a guarantee. Next year isn’t promised. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Our next breath isn’t promised. In fact, none of them are even deserved.
Every year that we live, every day that we wake up, every breath that we take – they’re all a product of grace.
My grandfather was 75 years old. He was not a young man. But in a moment, it was all taken away. Even at his age, no one could have predicted how quickly his life would deteriorate.
Scripture reminds us repeatedly that our life is but a moment in time. Our days on earth are extremely short (Psalm 89:47), and are compared to a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15, Job 8:9), a wind that passes by (Psalm 78:39), grass that is here today and gone tomorrow (Job 14:2, Psalm 103:15), a mist that appears for a little while (James 4:14), and a mere breath (Psalm 39:5).
Death reminds us of our finitude. All of us will die. All of our lives will eventually come to an end.
Our lives are only a mist. We are here today and gone tomorrow.
And as devastating and terrible as death is, it serves as a reminder for us to number our days. To not take life for granted. To recognize that it is only by the grace of God that we woke up this morning.
Because it could all be taken away in an instant.