Last May, it seemed like everywhere I turned, I was running across passages on the brevity of life:
Psalm 103:15-16 “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”
I Peter 1:24 “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off.'”
Psalm 144:4 “Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
There were others, but you get the idea. As these passages kept coming before me during my time in the Word, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Lord was preparing me for something, and I didn’t like the thought of what that might be, so I kept pushing the thoughts from my mind.
This summer, when I started some Scripture memory, I was randomly selecting passages and some of the first ones I memorized, without remembering their content, were James 1, I Peter 1, and Psalm 103. As I memorized these passages, all containing verses on the brevity of life, I came to see that the last year has been filled with lessons in this truth:
- My father-in-law retired last May.
- My step-father died last July.
- Our very close friend was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of brain cancer in the prime of his life.
- I left a job I had loved and was called to in 2005, one that had brought me great joy and close friendships.
Retirement, death, sickness, job change, loss.
This phrase from Psalm 103: “Its place remembers it no more.” I drop my kids at school and watch the others who are now doing my former work. I’m glad for such great new additions to the school. It is, though, as I knew it would be — once you are gone, new folks take your place, and “its place remembers it no more.” That’s just life. I’m not even bemoaning these facts or sad about them, but merely acknowledging them.
What it has done for me is have me ask the question: What counts? What matters? What is my purpose? Is there any purpose in what I am doing? I pour myself into something for 5 1/2 years, and in an instant, it’s over. Whom did I do it for? Did I do it well? Was it worth the sacrifices? Did it bring God glory?
Now theoretically and intellectually maybe I know the answers. But I really want them rooted in my heart. If I’m not doing everything for the glory of God, does any of it matter? Probably not. But there is a resounding “yes” that there IS purpose in this life and that we find it in Christ, but what does it look like? What is it like to live in that truth daily?
Last week, as I began putting all of these thoughts finally together in my mind, the Lord took me to Psalm 90. It is on the transitoriness of man and the eternality of God. It began to give me some answers:
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
* * *
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”
I also see that in Psalm 103 and I Peter I, after talking about the grass withering and the flower fading, they immediately tell though what lasts — the Word of the Lord (I Peter) and His mercy that is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him (Psalm 103).
I feel a bit like the Lord has had to undo some things in and around me to open me up to see things more clearly, to be filled more with His purpose. I feel like He’s beginning to teach me anew now that I am ready.
In the midst of my thoughts these last couple of weeks, our pastor began a 7-week series on revitalizing your life. It began with “Purpose” and then “Challenge” the first two weeks. Jesus asks us to “follow Him.” Will I follow Him wherever He leads? Do I find Him worthy of giving him ALL that I am?
I am so grateful for what God has done for me, how He has led me this last year as my Shepherd, for how He has positioned me in something new and unexpected, and no doubt right and good. I wouldn’t change a thing. I am processing it all now, but so excited to see what He will show me, as well as where He will lead and what He will do as I seek to follow Him and live life with His purpose.
I hope this post won’t be seen as depressing, because for me, it is actually full of hope. It’s not the mid-life crisis that it appears to be! It’s wrestling with biblical truth, but it’s a good thing. I am thankful.
One thought on “Brevity of Life”
I don't think it's depressing, Carolyn. I love how you're thinking through important . . . the MOST important . . . issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.