LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. 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. (Ps 39:4-5)
Here’s an interesting wilderness
survival tip: if you tuck in your thumb, extend your arm, rotate your hand, and
measure how many palm widths fit between the sun and horizon—that’s how many
hours of daylight are left. I was fascinated when I first discovered this. I
tried it. It works. Daylight hours measured by handbreadths.
Much to my surprise, there’s a
startling connection here with Psalm 39. “You have made my days as
handbreadths.” What a quaint metaphor. (Was this
“survival tip” millenniums old?) But even more poignant: aren’t our lives just
like the setting sun? Appointed risings and appointed settings? Aren’t our
times in God’s hands (cf. Ps 31:15)?
There’s a measure of awe in those
thoughts. “LORD, please make me to
know my end.” It is really only when we look at the end of our days that we
understand how to best use today. It is healthy to ponder about death so that
we know how to best live. Our
time is fading. We are limited.
Vapor indeed. Frail indeed. Are
But then there is also a measure
of hope in those thoughts. Our
greatest hope begins when the sun goes down. For we will not sleep for long.
When this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death
is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O
Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor
15: 54-55) I am in His hands. I trust
in His timing. He sustains me. Let me fulfill my duties and then . . . meet Him.
Questions for Reflection:
How many more handbreadths do you
think you have left in your life? How would you want to live out these