If this isn’t a Psalm for reflection on one’s birthday, I don’t know what is!
Psalm 39: 4-8
O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is nothing as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool!
If I can claim your attention for just one minute on my birthday, I’d love to share a few things. Birthdays and special days are occasions that give us a chance to remember. We think back over the year and focus on regrets, successes, ways that we want to improve. We pray that the coming year will be better than the last and that we’ll be able to make better use of our time, our resources, our lives. But within that, do we stop and think that like this Psalm says, “my lifetime is nothing before you [God]“? Do we really know “the measure of (our) my days”, or that “all mankind stands as a mere breath”? In a world that encourages us to focus on ourselves, to have “your best life now”, and “be all we can be”, how would a dose of wisdom from this Psalm put silence to thoughts like that? The fact is, if we’re honest with ourselves, we won’t be here for long. Maybe with all the talk of health, prosperity, better living, and whatnot, we feel like things are just going to keep on going forever, so we better enjoy the ride. But they won’t! Lest you think I’m being unnecessarily downcast on my birthday, hear me out for a bit longer. It matters that we live with feet grounded in reality. The reality that is found in the truth of God’s word, which says that life here does matter, but not because this is all that there is. We will one day pass from this life into eternity. There will be no more birthdays or special occasions for reflection, contemplation, and planning on how we can do better next time around. Just like the tag line for our blog says, “Only one life, ’twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
We have the chance to live here, in the light of then. We can stop, and realize that the word of God is true when it says that “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). If today, you feel alive because you have breath in your lungs, have you stopped to think who put it there? If today, you enjoy a meal, will you stop and think about who created it? If today, you’re for a moment amazed at something genius some person wrote or said, will you attribute that power to think to the God who made the human mind with all it’s complexity?
If a birthday is anything, it’s a moment to stop and take stock of who you really are. You, and I are just a breath. We will not be here in a hundred years (maybe much less!). And what will remain? Will you have come to believe before it is too late that true life (physically and spiritually) comes only in knowing Jesus as your Saviour? Will you have passed from death into life? Will you realize that although we are nothing, and we are like grass that withers and fades away, God has made you for a purpose and has given you today to come to Him and enjoy the hope that comes from knowing that life does truly matter and finds it’s meaning in Him?
My prayer is this. That we may all know Him, and in knowing Him know ourselves. Then, each of can live life, numbering our days and remembering that one day we will pass from this life to the next, and that what will matter won’t be the wealth we acquired, our personal accomplishments, whether or not we were popular, well-like by others, or successful in the eyes of the world. What will matter is that we would come to know Jesus as our only hope. Then, if He grants us one more day, one more year, we would seek to have a heart of wisdom that truly numbers it’s days and can say with the Psalmist, “And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.” That will be peace and joy enough to go on with direction and purpose, and live in a way that truly matters and truly realizes that although we’re a breath in this life, He is our hope and we wait anxiously for the day that we’ll be with Him. I want to be ready for that. Do you?