Sometimes we need a reminder of how our time flies. I had such a reminder the other day as I was reading the Scriptures.
Psalm 39:4-5 says, “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (ESV)
Somewhere along the way we get this idea that we have unlimited time. We get the idea that we are immortal, and that there is always tomorrow. James 4:13-15 warns us about this.
Perhaps it is a result of our desire to ignore death; if we ignore death’s reality, then certainly it will never come to us, right? But the reality is that death comes whether we want it to or not. Unless the Lord returns, we will all face death at some point, and we do not know when.
The psalmist asks God to “let me know how fleeting I am!” He wisely wants God to remind Him of how quickly his life will pass.
He describes his days as “a few handbreadths.” A handbreadth equaled about four inches. The idea being that in the grand scheme of things, his life was not very long. He then says that “all mankind stands as a mere breath.” The word for “breath” is a word meaning “vapor.” Think about going outside on a cold day and breathing out. The breath that you see disappears quickly; it is a vapor. That is the idea of how long (or short) our life is on earth.
In light of these things, we should consider how we are living. How are we using the time that we have, fleeting as it is? What things are we doing to ensure that we are “making the best use of the time”? (Ephesians 5:16, ESV)
Are we wasting it on things that won’t ultimately matter? Are we investing it wisely in spiritual growth and time with family and friends? Are we using our time to bless others? Or are we selfishly hoarding it all, always waiting until later to use our time wisely?
There was an old saying that I remember hearing Leonard Ravenhill say, although I don’t think it was original to him. It says, “Only one life; ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
How true that all is. We only have one life on this earth, and as the psalmist reminds us, although in different words, “’twill soon be past.” The only things that will last are those things done for Christ.
Now this doesn’t mean that we can do only “spiritual” things (like reading the Bible, praying, etc.). But whatever we are doing needs to be done to God’s glory. And we do need to think about how our time is being spent. Perhaps there are some better ways we can be using our time.
This life is a gift from God, and we will never regret the things we have done for Christ. Let us be sure we are using our time wisely. After all, it is “a mere breath.”