“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom”
The day has finally arrived! I’ve iced cupcakes, wrapped presents, and filled goody bags for my daughter’s fifth birthday party. She has been asking me when this day would come every single morning for 9 months. I’d show her on the calendar how far she had to go and she would sigh and whine with frustration. Her birthday simply would never come. She would never ever be five years old. Everyone would always be older than her. Surely she would stay four years old indefinitely. I’ve held her as she sobbed out tears of disappointment only one week ago because her birthday was just too far away. Seven days was an impossibly long time to wait.
I, on the other hand, feel as if this day has come so quickly. How is it possible that my gorgeous, brilliant, quirky little one has been with me for five years? For these past few months, I’ve been telling her to wait, just wait, it will come and it will arrive sooner than she realizes, but those words felt empty and meaningless to her.
Impatience weighs heavy in this house. My older girl has been telling every stranger in town, “Hi, my name is Victoria. I’m almost seven.” Sometimes, she even pads her age a bit and tells them she’s almost ten or almost 12. And so I lean down and whisper to her that her birthday just happened; she’s still eight months away from even one more birthday, much less four or six!
“Mommy, I want to be in kindergarten. Mommy, I want to be in first grade. Mommy, I want to wear point shoes in ballet. Mommy, I want to be a teenager. Mommy, I want to be old enough for a house of my own so I can have a dog.” Even my baby toddles around after older sisters trying to do the same “big girl” things they do.
No matter how old they are, they always want to be older. I try to tell them truth—that one day they will pay bills, and go to work, and care for sick children, and will long for the preschool days when they worried only about show and tell and their snack choice for the day. Please enjoy this moment right now, I beg. Please don’t let it pass by you unnoticed and unvalued because you are too busy looking ahead to the next step.
And I have been there. I have trekked across a college campus and longed for graduation. Married and been asked by family when we’d have a baby. Had a baby and contemplated what it would be like to have older kids, and sleep, and no diapers, and no need for babysitters. Worked a job and longed for retirement. Always too busy thinking about later to actually enjoy now.
Solomon told us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven . . . He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11, NIV). No amount of rushing or anticipating or worrying will change God’s appointed seasons in our lives.
I love to visit Colonial Williamsburg and walk the gardens surrounding the palace and I long to stroll through the local botanical gardens and enjoy the color and scents and hovering butterflies in a place of beauty. But, if I travel there before they are ready, before the flowers have bloomed and while the bulbs still lie dormant beneath cold earth, I would see death, not life, brown dirt instead of the brilliant hues of tulips and daffodils. “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” and so we must cultivate, plant, and tend as God calls us to so that we can enjoy life in its proper season.
Of course, sometimes we feel as if the season we are in has lasted forever and that surely God will never release us to newness and fulfillment. We remain dissatisfied with the now He has given us as we dream about the future we imagine. And what happens, then, if the next season bears no resemblance to the goals and dreams in our heart? I know a couple who planned retirement with excitement and anticipation, but the reality wasn’t travel, relaxation and golf. No, it was stroke and poor health and a future not at all what they had envisioned. They can’t go back and enjoy the time before caregiving and doctor’s appointments. It is now a season past.
In Psalm 90, Moses challenges us to keep the proper perspective about our life’s circumstances. He says, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night . . . Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures . . . Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:4, 10, 12, NIV).
We all feel stuck sometimes and without hope that we’ll ever overcome our difficulties. My mom’s greatest advice was to remember that “this is only a season and won’t last forever.” There were struggles and stresses that consumed my thoughts in the day and kept me awake at night, now long since resolved and in the past. Sleepless nights with a newborn, a teething infant, terrible twos, potty training, juggling college and work, unemployment—all seasons that seemed interminable when I was in them, but now appear so brief as I scan back over my life history. Even our entire lives, the seventy or eighty years Moses thinks we have on this planet, constitute so little of the human history God has witnessed and walked through.
So then, we ask that God “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It is wisdom indeed to realize that the circumstances we are in are a passing season and hope can carry us through to victory. A new season will arrive at just the right moment and it will be beautiful in its proper time.
But, it is also wisdom to number our days, making each one count. Not letting a single calendar square go by without us valuing it for what it is–this is our life in the here and now and God is present in it. What would it look like if we lingered here in this place, finding the beauty God has created in this time rather than straining to see what lies ahead? It would be a life of glorious contentment and peace, restful and unrushed as we take the time to look, really look, at the beauty all around us in the reality of our now. Even in the difficult times, we learn to see the beauty in dirt turned over, weeds pulled, seeds planted—the work God is doing in our lives this moment, the beauty of Him active in our lives, cultivating our hearts in this season, knowing that in His own perfect timing He will bring forth growth, shoots of life, and a harvest plentiful. So much beauty all in His time.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King