Teach us to number (the brevity) our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom – Ps 90:12
The Bible on its course through the centuries speaks again to us today with its living and redeeming power and promises. Psalm 90 is the only psalm attributed to Moses, a man with whom the Lord spoke “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exd 33:11, Num 12:7-8). Moses had seen a generation squander 40 years in the wilderness, hence he was honest when he observed that life ‘quickly passes and we fly away’ (v10). Moses’ warning resonates with us today that learning to number our days means recognising the unnumbered days of God, our lives are frail and short, God is eternal. God is the Creator, we are created, our days are numbers and God’s days are without end.
The act of praying and asking God to teach us not only about the brevity of our lives invites us to diligently apply our hearts unto (godly) wisdom – divine perspective for a harvest of righteousness. Heart of wisdom is the strangely warmed-heart like that of John Wesley. Paul said “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor 3:18-19). As Christians, we are not people of this age, this present world, we are people of the age to come, the eternal world to come. The wise standard of this world is foolishness in God’s sight and it yields harvest of unrighteousness.
Why this prayer? Prayer is the fountain of wisdom. Wisdom is tied to prayer in the Scriptures. Prayer on brevity of life is a teacher to impart wisdom, hence, the need for revelation to contrast our shortness with God’s eternal nature. The reason for this prayer is that, it is easy to lose or forget our divine perspective as survivals of the pandemic for the ‘new normal,’ thinking we are in control with the wisdom of this world. Our first parents, Adam and Eve lost their divine perspective for Satan’s ‘new normal.’ They eat the forbidden fruit forgetting that not everything that are good are godly. Satan’s strategy for them to disregard God’s word and their rebellion to God was successful over them and Satan is not resting, even today. The same devil’s tactics, namely, the disregard of our first parents for God’s Words, their rebellion against God’s authority and commands is spreading like wild fire.
The Bible still speaks through our divine perspective not to doubt God’s word, not to deny God’s Word, not to disregard God’s judgement and not to defame God’s character for the ‘new normal’ temptations. So sad, Satan distorted God’s word saying “… every tree of the garden?” whereas, God had been very specific saying “… the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 3:1, 2:17). Eve also reduced God’s Word, misquoting the divine permission, “… we may eat of the trees of the garden” (Gen 3:2). She exaggerated, underrated, and misquoted the divine prohibition and the divine penalty. God said, “… for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” and she changed it to “… you shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen 2:17; 3:3).
Jesus remained obedient to the divine perspective for the ‘new normal’ temptations. Jesus used a divine perspective ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ for the ‘new normal’ temptation “Tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus did not misuse his miraculous power for selfish reasons nor used his devotion to God for political power (Matt 4:1-11). Jesus remained stronger and more prepared for his ministry because he rejected ‘new normal’ temptations to do his mission. Beloved, Christian maturity is seeing things in light and lens of the divine perspective, that is, God-consciousness.
The pandemic panic mode reminds us of fragility and swiftness of our life on earth. The phrase, ‘new normal’ suggests human viewpoints and interpretation on how to cope with the fear and the reality of Covid-19 that may remain with us for some time. The ‘new normal’ is a reminder that we are not in control hence the need for divine perspective. Life is generally about perspective, the way we see and approach things. We are in an age where we either see life from the perspective of “anything goes as long as it makes me happy,” or “there are boundaries you should not cross.” Divine perspective is about keeping boundaries we should not cross, that is keeping God’s character in the forefront of our thinking and aligning our prayer and ministry with God’s word.
From Genesis to Revelation, divine perspective is driven by the truth of God’s Word. Leading, preaching, loving and worshipping in the light of eternity. Divine perspective for new normal calls for lockdown to our pride; Divine perspective for new normal calls for lockdown to institutional racism; Divine perspective to new normal call for prayer quarantine for church leaders and workers. Divine perspective for the pandemic ‘new normal’ calls for soul winning; sin distancing, healing of homes and marriage. There is a thin line between social distancing/social divisions and huge gap between social distancing/spiritual disciplines. Social distancing points to spiritual discipline, a way to serve Jesus and others. At the heart of spiritual discipline is personal and corporate growth in faith in order to be more like Jesus in the pandemic ‘new normal.’ We do this according to Rom 12, not conforming to the pattern of this age, this present world, but allowing God to transform us through the renewing of our mind, offering our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God (vs 1).
Beloved, going by the prayer of Moses, if our need is to number our days by contrasting our brevity with the eternal nature of God, then our prayer to God today is that He would reveal to us the brevity of life, power, and position. The revelation of life brevity will help us to grow wise in the choices we make during our brief stay on earth bearing in mind eternal consequences. Are you prepared for what we will follow this brief earthly lives?
We will never learn that lessons in our own strength. Are we living in our own strength and interpretation of God’s word? We need to humble ourselves in repentance; lockdown our pride, fear, racism, and social division and indiscipline. Social divisions and imbalances contributes to an increase in poverty rate, rising numbers of homeless people, and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the society. We need grace to live as God’s people. Brevity is the lesson and blessing of life.
Divine perspective and responsibility needs to be handled with faith and not with fear, doubt or unbelief. We need to ask God to forgive us and help us see pandemic ‘new normal’ from His perspective. We need to acknowledge before God that He is in control of everything. We need to pray for our physical and mental healing. We need to pray for our spiritual health, our sense of meaning and purpose. We need to ask God to give us eternal view of life that keeps us steady in anticipation of His Second Coming. Beyond pandemic ‘new normal’ with pavement markers, sanitiser dispensers on the entry and exit, wearing of masks, signs of social distancing in the pews with no singing and for less than 45 minutes duration, God is reminding and calling us to missional brief earthly life that seeks to obey, love and serve God. Indeed, ‘a life lived without reference to God is as senseless as a runner in a relay race who; upon getting the baton, goes off to see his girlfriend.’ Beloved, living your ‘life outside the context of the worship of God is as ridiculous as an actor who is supposed to be Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar but who, upon getting on stage, decides to be Mark Anthony. Such a runner or actor not only spoils everything, but he also deserves to get the boot.’ God of love and justice does not have pleasure in the death of a sinner but that the sinner should come to repentance (Ezek 33:11). Beloved, you must not make the mistake of the rich man who did not learned to “number his days” (Lk 1:19-21). Learning to number our days means remembering that our lives, our world, nations, power, money and beauty are fleeting. Learning to number our days means prayerfully considering the wrath of God (Ps 90:3-11).