Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
AT THEIR LONGEST, OUR LIVES IN THIS WORLD ARE QUITE BRIEF. With astonishing swiftness, we enjoy our youth, reach our maturity, and then suddenly find ourselves facing the end. Sooner or later, we all come to appreciate what Job meant when he said, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6).
It is undeniable that our earthly lives go by quickly, and we need to know the truth about that. We may not want to know it, but we need to know it. The more frankly we face that fact, the more reverently we’ll live our lives while they last. So David was a wise man when he prayed, “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.”
Look at what happens when we don’t face life’s brevity.
(1) We spend the first half of life prodigally. Prodigal actions are wasteful, that is, they spend limited resources as if they were unlimited. Isn’t that the way we “spend” our days prior to middle age? Thinking the “supply” is unlimited, we’re not very careful.
(2) We live without regard for God. Failing to face the brevity of life, we also fail to take God into account in our actions. If we even believe there will be a day of judgment, we assume it’s so far in the future that it has little bearing on our day-to-day conduct.
(3) We live with little perspective, which causes us to err in our decisions. Many of our most important decisions are made on the basis of assumptions about “how much time we’ve got left,” and faulty assumptions in that area can seriously skew our judgment. Taking our lease on life for granted, we make foolish choices.
So we need to live life with death in mind. Our minds should be governed by neither a morbid fascination with death nor a gloomy fatalism, but simply a healthy understanding that we have only a few days in which to get our work done. When the time came for Jesus to die, He had accomplished His life’s work in the time that was granted to Him, and He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Is there any chance that you and I can say the same?
Here’s death, twitching my ear:
“Live,” says he, “for I am coming.”