“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:11-20 NKJV
It’s funny how the older you get, birthdays seems to remind you more and more of how short our lives really are. Psalms 39 struck a chord with me today as I have been thinking about how short our lives are and how we choose to spend that time.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them. Psalms 39:5-6
I, like many others, had to look up the definition of handbreadths. It literally means just inches, like the depth of 4 fingers together. If we totaled our days on Earth and set them before the Lord, they would look like nothing to Him. He is infinite. As the text reads, our days would look like vapor. Barely even noticeable.
When we are kids, we typically want nothing more than to grow up to be an adult. How freeing and awesome must it be to grow up? Now, as an adult, I envy the kid. They have their whole lives in front of them with little responsibilities. We always seem to desire what we do not have. We reach adulthood and we “busy ourselves in vain.” We try to build up wealth, possessions or success.
Personally, I am a “go-getter”. I want to achieve success in life and in the things I work on. However, I have a balance in me that constantly pulls me back to reality. I believe that balance comes from the Lord. He helps me reflect on my heart and my motivations. What am I working for? What is my heart seeking? I do not want to heap up reaches for the sake of gathering riches. But, rather than completely throwing out the idea of working hard, I have found that the heart is what needs examined. The Lord can reveal to us our motivations and our desires. We can ask Him to align our desires with His.
I believe the next two verses offer us guidance on this path.
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Do not make me the reproach of the foolish. Psalms 39-7-8
Where does my hope and inspiration come from? Is it the success? Possibly wealth or possessions? No. My hope is in the Lord. Knowing that my life is but a vapor humbles me before Him. I only have so long to live. I awake each morning with a hope that I can make a positive influence on the things that I touch. My hope is in the Lord, who delivers us from our transgressions. I am not perfect – far from it! But, we have a perfect God who loves us.