Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. (Psalm 39:4)
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
In a few days, my 68-year-old mom will be flying back to Puerto Rico after spending a month here in NYC with me. It’s one thing to know that I will miss her terribly because of distance, but it’s quite another to consider not having her at all one day. My good memories in the making this past month have all been tinged with the melancholy of knowing that life is fleeting; that every happy moment is frozen within minutes and hours, which then melt into oblivion far too quickly.
Here, on this side of heaven, after the fall of mankind, and the entrance of sin into the world, every rose sprouted thorns and every beautiful thing that is encapsulated within the limits of time now has a beginning and a definite, eventual end. Every sunny day is eclipsed by the cloak of a dark, starry night that moves the hand of the clock one notch closer to eternity.
Life, death, time, fear and Godly wisdom. They are all infinitely connected.
In Psalm 39:4, David contemplated the years of his life and prayed that God would make him see and understand the brevity of his existence in the scope of eternity so that he might live accordingly. This pondering drew from him a request that was made from a place of reverence. ‘How can I best know you in the time I have left?’ This thinking upon life and death shifted his perspective away from the horizontal cares of the world and focused his attention vertically, on God and His kingdom.
I often think about how quickly life slips through my fingers and ask myself where I stand: time spent or time wasted? I find myself lacking more often than not and focusing on everything I could lose on this earth only to realize at times that what is diametrically opposed to my peace is actually not losing myself completely to Christ that I might truly gain what is incorruptible.
This loss of peace is also rooted in fear. Fear of losing loved ones. Fear of what lies on the other side of this life and what we know….of not resting in the victory of death’s defeat. Fear is paralyzing. Fear numbs. Fear mutes. Fear steals. But Godly fear is different. It has the unique perspective shared by David’s view of the Lord. It is a profound love and respect that makes entry for the Lordship of God’s hand to rest on the frailty of mankind’s limitations.
What starts as pondering about beautiful moments spent with my mom or family that quickly evaporate into history becomes David’s prayer and careful consideration to yield my years to my Maker. This thinking about life and time and death….these thoughts that are outlined in moments of fear (because I’m human)…I’m reminded to funnel that into Godly fear. I am to fear God and stand at the cusp of a celestial wisdom that will order my steps from this life, through death, and–one day–into the loving arms of my Savior.
It is no wonder that God’s design is for wisdom to be born of no other source or circumstance but of this type of thoughtful acquiescence.