July 1, 2015
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Wisdom is knowing our limitations. I remember a few years ago that I played basketball with some young men at Calvary Chapel Bartlett. After a few minutes I was completely exhausted. I had to step out of the game and let a younger man take my place. When I sat down next to another man my age, I told him, breathing heavy, sweat pouring down my face, and every muscle in my body aching, that I was exhausted. Staring straight forward and shaking his head, he said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
How true that was and is. There is wisdom in knowing limitations. We can thrive when we know them; we can kill ourselves when we don’t. There is a limited amount of time to accomplish what God wants to accomplish in and through us. It is as if the clock is ticking and we are on Jeopardy. If we wait long enough, the buzzer goes off and we lose the opportunity.
For some, the buzzer of life will sound sooner than they thought. I have read countless obituaries where a young man or a young woman had been driving too fast, flipped their car, and died on the spot. I am sure when they left the house that day, they said goodbye to their parents, and didn’t realize it would be their last goodbye.
The wisdom in numbering our days is realizing that no matter how long we have, it is a short time. Even if we live seventy or eighty years it’s a short time. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and went through surgery after surgery, I realized how fragile life was. A doctor could tell someone that they only have a month to live, but they could step off a curb the next day, get hit by a car, and die. The doctor was wrong. You only had one day to live.
Wisdom is learned by understanding the fragility of life. We have a short time. What are we going to do with what we have?
Paul said, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
What should we do with time that we have? We should focus on what is important. Being diagnosed with a life threatening illness puts things into perspective. When the doctor says, “Cancer” things change. At that point, life is not so much about stuff as about people. The spiritual world becomes more important; the physical goes away. Family and friends become much more important.
We’ve all been given the same diagnosis. We each have a disease that will eventually kill us. It’s called sin. There is a treatment for it, but eventually it will get us. On that day when we take our final breath we will not be concerned about how much money we made or about the accumulation of stuff.
For me, my thoughts went to what kind of husband I had been. What kind of dad? Did I impart enough wisdom to my boys? Did I show them enough discipline to develop their character? Did I point them to Jesus? What did I do to influence them for the kingdom of God?
As an exercise, today I will diagnose you with a deadly disease. I don’t know how many days you have left, but they are numbered. Write down what you’d like your legacy to be… and, with wisdom gained, live it while you still have the chance to do so.