Saturday, February 9, 2019

the best is yet to be

artwork by Krista Hamrick


This beautiful artwork by Krista Hamrick inspired me to do a study based on Psalm 90:10:

AMPC: The days of our years are threescore years and ten (seventy years)—or even, if by reason of strength, fourscore years (eighty years); yet is their pride [in additional years] only labor and sorrow, for it is soon gone, and we fly away.

CEB: We live at best to be seventy years old, maybe eighty, if we’re strong. But their duration brings hard work and trouble because they go by so quickly. And then we fly off.

ESV: The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

EXB: Our lifetime is [L The days of our years are] seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. But ·the years are full of [L their pride are] ·hard work [toil] and ·pain [trouble; Eccl. 1:2]. They pass quickly, and then we ·are gone [L fly away].

GW: Each of us lives for 70 years— or even 80 if we are in good health. But the best of them bring trouble and misery. Indeed, they are soon gone, and we fly away.

GNT: Seventy years is all we have— eighty years, if we are strong; yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow; life is soon over, and we are gone.

TLB: Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty. But even the best of these years are often empty and filled with pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone.

NET: The days of our lives add up to seventy years, or eighty, if one is especially strong. But even one’s best years are marred by trouble and oppression. Yes, they pass quickly and we fly away.

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe writes: “Life expectancy in the United States is up to 75 years. That's good news; 25 years ago it was only 70 years. Perhaps it will keep going up, but in comparison to eternity, the human life span is short. That's why we read, "The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (v. 10). That sounds like a rather doleful statement, but it's true. The setting of Psalm 90 is found in the events recorded in Numbers 14. God had brought the Jews directly to Kadesh-Barnea. He said, "Now go in and possess the land." And they would not do it. They doubted God's promise and questioned His wisdom. They did not believe He would enable them to conquer the land. As a consequence, God said, "All right, everybody 20 years and older is going to die within the next 40 years." And that's what happened--the world's longest funeral march. For the next 40 years the nation wandered in the wilderness, while that older generation died. Then God took the younger generation on a whole new crusade, and they conquered the Promised Land. The older people knew they were going to die before they got to the Promised Land. But Christians today know that when we die we'll go to the place Jesus is preparing for us. It's important to make our lives count while we are on earth. Yes, our lives have their difficulties, and if the Lord doesn't return soon, our lives will end in death. But death will lead to eternity. And we can live a life of the eternal today. The Bible says, "He who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 2:17). Let's touch the eternal today by abiding in the Almighty and doing His will.”

Every year at about this time, I think a little more seriously about a topic that interests everyone, but concerns only those who have reached certain age plateaus. The topic is “getting older.” The reason I think about it at this time of year is that I celebrate another year of life during February. The interesting thing about this aging process is that each of us faces the same inescapable prospect, yet we all handle it differently. It all depends on our perspective. Our lifetime passes quickly, as the writer of Psalm 90 pointed out so bluntly (v.10). Because that is true, we need the kind of attitude poet Robert Browning displayed when he wrote, “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.” Life is cumulative, Browning was saying, and each of our days is a foundation for tomorrow. For us to use those days properly, we need to develop a positive outlook on the passage of time. In Psalm 90, we learn that a correct view of life includes a search for wisdom (v.12), a dependence on God’s mercy (v.14), and a request for God’s favor (v.17). As we maintain this perspective, we will enjoy the passage of time.

In the only psalm attributed to Moses, he wrote, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (90:10). Those aren’t words we want to hear. We want to remain forever young, but Scripture reminds us that the years pass and death will one day arrive. That leaves us to wrestle with two essential questions: Am I ready to “fly away” at life’s end, having trusted Christ as my Savior? And am I using my fleeting days to please the One who loves me eternally?

Scientists predict that the average lifespan
in the United States may reach 100 by the end of the 21st century. They say the genetics that control aging could be altered to extend life beyond the 70 to 80 years referred to in Psalm 90:10. Life’s final chapter, however, will still read, “It is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Moses, who wrote those words, likened our existence to grass that flourishes in the morning and is cut down and withers in the evening (vv.5-6). Although he lived to be 120 (Deuteronomy 34:7), life’s brevity was never far from his mind. That’s why he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

Famous furniture designer, D. J. De Pree, took those words literally. He calculated the number of days from the date of his birth until he would turn 70. At the end of each day he’d reduce his total by one. To see that figure decline reminded him to make each day count for the Lord. He lived to be 99 years old, before his death in 1990. Reflect for a moment what time of day it would be today if Moses' normal life span of "70 years" were squeezed into a single 24-hour day. For example, if you are 59, the time is approximately 8:30pm. The closer we get to 70, it would be near midnight! There is actually a watch called the "Tikker" which not only tells time but calculates your estimated life span, and displays a running countdown of your remaining time! It is advertised as the watch "that counts down your life, just so you can make every second count!" That's not a bad tagline, Biblically speaking!

Pastor Lloyd Stilley writes: “There is a scene in the Civil War motion picture Gods and Generals that is telling. The movie follows the rise and fall of Civil War hero General Thomas Jackson, and does not try to hide his Christianity. Throughout the picture, Jackson's dependence on God is shown, but never more strikingly that in the early morning hours of July 21st, 1861. prior to the First Battle of Bull Run. As the glimmers of dawn break forth, Jackson calls out to God, asking for His will to be done. Almost immediately, things do not go well for the out-numbered Confederates. Union forces quickly overpowered them. The Confederate line broke. All out retreat ensued. Several Confederate brigades ran to the next line of reinforcement, which was held by Jackson's brigade. Morale was all but gone as retreating soldiers swarmed Jackson's position, with the Union army on their heels. But then someone yelled over the din of battle to the men, telling them to look at Jackson. At that moment, General Jackson was sitting erect in his saddle with cannon fire exploding all around him. His left hand was wounded by a musket ball. Nevertheless, he did not flinch. Word spread among the men: "Look at Jackson, standing like a stone wall," they said. Stonewall Jackson, as he would be known from that day, paced his horse back and forth across the hazardous front line, shouting orders to "charge" as the musket balls pierced the air. His stunning bravery stirred the men to valor, and they turned to face advancing Union forces with new resolve. At the end of the day, General Jackson returned to the battlefield to survey the losses: 111 Confederates dead, 373 missing. Weary and sad, Jackson knelt beside a dead soldier. And it was then that one of his captains asked him, "General, how is it you can keep so serene, and stay so utterly insensible, with a storm of shells and bullets about your head?" Jackson replied, "Captain Smith, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself with that, but to be always ready, whenever it may overtake me. [If this was] the way all men...lived, then all men would be equally brave." Stonewall Jackson was declaring his belief that God ruled over the details of his life, even the flight of bullets and shrapnel. His bravery was based on his belief that, as A.W. Pink wrote, "God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the throne of the universe, directing all things and working all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11)." Basically, what General Jackson told his captain is, "I am invincible until God is through with me."

To say God is sovereign is to say that He is unrivaled in majesty, unlimited in power and knowledge, and unaffected by anything outside Himself. He is outside of time and completely free to do whatever He wills to do anywhere, at any time, in every single detail without interference. He reigns, period. That is what it means to say God is sovereign. And that's what Stonewall Jackson believed when bullets and bombs filled the air. Now run that around the block in your thoughts. When someone we love deeply lies in a hospital bed and we don't know what's going to happen, God is in control. When the economy—national or personal—is on a slide, God is in control. When we're lonely and the phone doesn't ring and we wonder if we're ever going to connect with someone, God is in control. Nothing will enter your life that God does not either decree or permit. And this God, who sustains every atom of this universe, who raises up nations and brings them down, who remains un-thwarted in the accomplishing of all His purposes . . . this King over all loves you! He wants you to seek Him, to rely on Him, to wait for Him, to walk with Him.

Moses, the author of Psalm 90, wasn’t anticipating a refreshing shower when he pulled back his tent flap to face another day in the hot, barren wilderness. His to-do list usually had one thing on it: walk until God says stop. Moses began each day with something many of us are missing: an unwavering assurance of God’s unfailing love. His confidence in God’s love and care was all he needed to face each day in the wilderness. We have the same promise that Moses had. Nothing we do or say will alter the passionate love God pours out on us. In our waking moments, before our minds become cluttered with concerns, before our feet hit the floor, we can pray, “Lord, satisfy me today with your unfailing love.” When God’s love becomes our greatest source of satisfaction, joy will carry us through our daily stresses, and God will put a song in our hearts . . . "to the end of our lives.”

The average life span of a mayfly is a brief twenty-four hours.
A rare number of them reach ancient status, living up to fourteen days, but some live only two hours. This tiny winged insect is born, reaches maturity, mates, and dies in just one of our days! It would seem foolish to us for the mayfly to waste even one moment in light of such a short life span. To an eternal God our life is but a brief flash, yet we often flit along like the mayfly, acting as if we have unlimited days in front of us. Our time on earth is brief, and each moment has potential. It is only when we view time through God’s eyes that we can truly understand how precious a gift is every hour that we exist. Do you make the most of your numbered days, or is time an empty commodity? Ask God today how you can make the most of the time that you have been given. Seize each moment, for life will quickly pass away.

Have you ever been so burdened by stress
that you wished you could just get on a plane and fly away? Most of us at one time or other have had troubles so overwhelming, situations so burdensome and heavy, that we, like the psalmist, have wished we could fly away like a bird and be at rest. We may imagine a getaway to a quiet beach or the mountains, a place free from stress and problems and endless responsibilities. We dream of a turnaround in a pressing situation so that we won’t have that to worry about anymore. But God offers a kind of rest that is different from what our own minds would conceive. God offers us rest in the midst of our distress. It is the only true rest—an inner rest that comes from abandoning ourselves to the Lord and entrusting to him whatever troubles or problems are overwhelming us. Instead of flying away, run straight into the arms of God, and rest in his care and love for you today.

Heavenly Father, help me to see time as a valuable asset that you have entrusted to me. When you gave me life, you intended that I live life abundantly and that I experience joy, fulfillment, and purpose. Help me not to squander time on meaningless endeavors but to understand that my days are numbered and that each one counts. And although an entire lifetime is just a moment to you, let my days be filled to overflowing with the glory of your presence. Thank you for your promise of unfailing love. Impress on my heart a deeper awareness of your love and care for me. Give me eyes to see all the ways you express that to me throughout this day. Forgive me for seeking satisfaction in material possessions, family, friends, and work. I pray that you will become my greatest source of satisfaction and joy. Enable me to find my rest in you, to discover a place of deeper abandonment and security in your everlasting love. You are my only rock. You are my only rest. I praise you for your amazing sovereignty. You wove me together in my mother’s womb, saw me before I was born, and have already recorded every day of my life. You charted the path ahead of me and laid out every moment before a single day had passed. I don’t have to fear because you are with me, before me, behind me, surrounding me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Joni Eareckson Tada's prayer - "God, I turn today over in my hands and ask you to help me to pay attention to what you have for me in it, not for the future but for right now."

Missionary C. T. Studd writes:
“Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!”

Look Up—meditate on Psalm 90:10 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In—as you meditate on Psalm 90:10 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 90:10 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


28 comments:

  1. Only one earth life so it will pass, only what's done for Jesus will last!
    I'm with you on this one, I just celebrated a milestone birthday last month too.
    You're most welcome to join me for a cuppa,
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for stopping by! Many blessings to you ❤️

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  2. My sweet husband's birthday is in February, too! We just celebrated his special day. Thank you for this post, my friend. I hope all is well with you and your family. Sending love and hugs your way today!

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    1. Cheryl, somgood to hear from you! Many birthday blessings to your husband! Thanks for stopping by ❤️

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  3. I forgot to say "Happy Birthday" to you! I hope it is/was a very happy one, and may the year ahead be abundantly blessed for you!

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    1. Thank you, Cheryl...many blessings to you too ❤️

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  4. I love Joni's contribution here.
    And I'll add some thoughts I heard from John Piper. HE compares the endless years of eternity with the blink of an eye that our 3 score and 10 comprise. Really, it's not comparison.

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    1. WOW! Michele, I LOVE that John Piper quote. It will go right beside my other favorite quote from him, "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him." What wonderful encouragement to rest in the Everlasting Arms of our Great Shepherd of the Sheep, and His finished work on the cross. Many blessings to you sweet friend!

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  5. Happy birthday, Beth. I hope it's a good year for you! This post is especially relevant as I think about how rapidly my parents' are declining in health. They are in their mid-80s and have had good lives, but those lives are not moving toward the end like they had hoped or planned. Which makes the thoughts you shared about God's sovereignty even more comforting and encouraging. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging comments, Lois. I walked with my parents through their declining health also. Through it all, I experienced the "peace that passes all our understanding" knowing that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was walking with me through the valley, and He was with me on the other side, and every day since. O what a wonderful Savior we serve. Many blessings to you!

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  6. I do believe we can be forever young in Him because He renews our youth, Psalm 103. Not everyone even makes it to seventy, sometimes I think worrying about it subtracts from life.

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    1. Rebecca, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We can rest in knowing that God knows the number of our days, He sees the end from the beginning, we can trust Him. Many blessings to you!

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  7. So very interesting, Beth. You certainly don't see this topic discussed that often. :-) But, yes, life here is short in comparison to eternity and as 1 Peter tells us, we are really just exiles away from home and sojourners passing through.

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    1. Karen, I so agree with you! Thank you so much for stopping by...many blessings to you ❤️

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  8. Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam

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    1. Kirsty, thanks so much for stopping by! Many blessings to you!

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  9. I love that you're writing again, Beth. You've been missed ...

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I do feel a special connection with all my sisters-in-Christ here on our blog posts. Many blessings to you, friend.

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  10. I also do more reflecting on age in February since I celebrate my birthday also. I love your words about Moses. He was passionate about God everyday of his life. I pray that I can be more like Moses in my everyday too.

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    1. Mary, thanks so much for sharing! Many February birthday blessings to you, friend ❤️

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  11. "God offers us rest in the midst of our distress. It is the only true rest—an inner rest that comes from abandoning ourselves to the Lord and entrusting to him whatever troubles or problems are overwhelming us." Amen! Great post, Beth. Blessings to you! I'm your neighbor at #Let'sHaveCoffee

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    1. Gayl, so good to hear from you! It is a joy or share our posts with each other at #Let’sHaveCoffee. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  12. Your way of describing the whole thing in this paragraph
    is truly good, every one be able to without difficulty be aware of it,
    Thanks a lot.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  13. What wise and beautiful words you write. Yes, I need to appreciate this getting older thing. I want to capture the beauty of it.

    I admit this week I have wanted to fly away.

    Maree

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    1. Mare, I appreciate you taking time to stop by and share your heart. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  14. So beautiful! The Bible Art... the study... the prayer!

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    1. Karrilee, thank you so much for stopping by. The Bible art truly does inspire me, too. Many blessings to you!

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