Your Days Are Numbered
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God… A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:1-2, 4, 12 (NIV)
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, my family gathered with a dozen others outside the mouth of a cave in Northern Spain. Our guide unlocked the gate and led us on a 20-minute walk, deeper and deeper into the earth.
Finally, we stood in total darkness at the heart of the cavern until our guide turned on his flashlight and panned it slowly across the rock wall to reveal a horse, painted in purple with a black mane and standing in a red field.
This image, the cave’s earliest, is thought to be as many as 63,000 years old. By far the oldest human-made thing I have ever been in the presence of.
It was beautiful…and daunting.
To hold my own life up against that timeline. To reckon my days against that horse’s. It makes my time here seem very small. And makes the God who stretches from everlasting to everlasting seem very large.
It makes the psalmist number his days. To count each one as precious, knowing how few we have been given by the one who was before horse paintings, and before horses, before caves that lead into the earth, and before the earth itself.
To remember just how brief it all is, he says, gives us a heart of wisdom.
God teach us to number our days.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.