Today’s my birthday. My fortieth, or as I like to call it, my thirty-tenth. I’ve joked that turning forty is traumatic, but it’s really no big deal. I’ll not be getting an earring, a ponytail, or a sports car. Frankly, forty feels a lot like thirty-nine did. Still, this particular birthday has caused me to reflect on my life for the last several months, including meditations I shared in this sermon on Psalm 90. I encourage you to spend some time thinking on that great Psalm, penned by Moses. Here are a few random thoughts as I “number my days” (Psalm 90:12). Perhaps they’ll be helpful, especially as we get ready to turn our calendars to a new year:
- Turning 40 is humbling. It reveals to me anew how frail I am compared to the everlasting, unchanging God (Psalm 90:1-11). That’s a major theme of the psalm, especially at its beginning. People are fleeting, but God is timeless. I get old, achy, and weak (Ecclesiastes 12), but God never does (Isaiah 40:6-8). Forty years give me pause; a thousand are nothing to him (Psalm 90:4). That’s humbling. And glorious.
- Turning 40 is sobering. According to Psalm 90:10, I’m probably half done. To use an analogy that sticks with me from the post-Christmas shopping sprees of my youth, I’ve spent $40 of the $80 I’ve been given. Maybe. I might only get $40 or $50. Either way, my time is short (Job 14:1-2; James 4:14).
- Turning 40 is encouraging. When Moses was my age, he was just leaving Egypt (Acts 7:23, 30, 36). His great usefulness in the Lord’s work came in the last third of his life. That’s a happy thought. Sure, there are those from history who died at age 30 and yet accomplished astounding things. But there are more for whom life was just getting good at its halfway point.
- Turning 40 is motivating. I’m grateful for God’s grace thus far. I’m amazed by it. He’s tolerated me. He’s forgiven me. He’s protected me from me. And He’s even used me at times, which is a wonder of grace. But I long to invest my last half more prudently than my first half. I pray I will do so. I pray that I will be satisfied and delighted by God Himself and that He will mercifully establish the work of my hands for His glory (Psalm 90:14-17).
I got a profound birthday wish today from my friend Cici Christ. She recently lost her husband Darrin, who was a classmate of mine at BJU and a faithful husband, father, and pastor. (Our mutual friend, Larry Rogier, reflected on Darrin’s unexpected death here.) Her birthday wish was as follows: “Happy Birthday Chris. Here’s to another year of a life well spent.”
Wow. That’s a challenging statement from anyone, but especially from one so recently acquainted with the brevity of life on earth, and thus one so qualified to offer such a blessing. Thank you, Cici! “A life well spent.” That’s what I want, by God’s grace. My life will be short, but it need not be wasted. It can be spent for the good of others and the glory of God (2 Corinthians 12:15). May God make it so, for me and for you.
Favorite thoughts from others on this passage and this concept:
- Jonathan Edwards: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can… Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live… Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.” (Resolutions #5, 6, 17)
- John Piper: “The opposite of wasting your life is to live by a single, soul-satisfying passion for the supremacy of God in all things.” (Don’t Waste Your Life, 43)
- Dave Harvey: “We need an ambition that won’t rest until more people are reached, more churches planted, more marriages helped, more art created, more enterprises started, more disciples made. We need an ambition that lives joyfully today but wants more for God and more from God tomorrow.” (Rescuing Ambition, 209)
- C. H. Spurgeon: “Men are led by reflections upon the brevity of time to give their earnest attention to eternal things; they become humble as they look into the grave which is so soon to be their bed, their passions cool in the presence of mortality, and they yield themselves up to the dictates of unerring wisdom.” (Treasury of David, commenting on Psalm 90)
- C. H. Spurgeon: “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough of life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment.” (Treasury of David, commenting on Psalm 90)