4 “O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
Above is a prayer that, I’m guessing, few of us have prayed anytime recently. However, if we would grasp the depth of this portion of the word of God, we might pray it a bit more often. The prayer is simple. David asks God to help him to realize how short his earthly life is. He wants God to remind him that he is on this earth for what seems like no time at all. And in that prayer, David demonstrates for us a focus that we often miss.
As I have been preaching through the Gospel According to John, I have found myself repeatedly returning to the theme of eternity. John points us toward eternal life, and we find joy in the concept of heaven awaiting us. However, if we truly get a glimpse of what it means for us to think eternally, we will live and think differently.
How long is your life going to be? Perhaps you will live to be only 25. Perhaps you will live to be 100. What is either of those numbers in the light of eternity? When we compare our lives on earth to the forever that we will exist, the time on earth is a mere blip on the screen, a mere breath, a mere blink of an eye. God did not create us so that we could focus on a mere 70 year period of time; he created us for eternity with him.
What is the difference between thinking in a this-worldly way and thinking in an eternal way? When you think in a this-worldly way, you get very caught up in such things as being comfortable, having people like you, climbing the corporate ladder, or taking vacations. When you think in an eternal way, you become more focused on sharing Jesus with those who do not know him, on honoring God in such a way that he will reward you eternally, on the fact that our sufferings last for but a moment in this life.
I’m not saying that we should never enjoy this life. I’m not arguing against taking a vacation, planning for the future, or making friends. But what I am calling us to is to have an attitude that always remembers that this life is very brief. This life will pass. What will remain is eternity. Let us learn to pray as David did in Psalm 39. Let us learn to ask God to help us to see just how short our time here on earth will be. Let us learn to live with our hearts on forever as we honor God in the here and now.