We gave our dear son a new stopwatch for his birthday recently. He happily put it on this morning, after I’d set the date and time, reminding him that he could wear it to school as long as it wouldn’t be a distraction. Part of the reason we got him a watch is that he would constantly ask me what time it is–in the car on the way to school, to make sure we’d be at least 15 minutes early; before dinner, to know how long he’d been practicing piano; in the evening, to find out if he’d have time to play a bit before going to bed. Now that the watch was on his wrist, he became like a talking clock this morning: “Mommy, it’s 7:18 and 48 seconds.” On the way to school, “Mommy, it’s 7:30.” At one point while we were getting our things together before leaving the house, he was actually counting the seconds. He went on for about thirty seconds, when my husband asked him to stop, telling him kindly that counting seconds could quickly get annoying to those listening!
As we were getting into the car, I thought of the absurdity of spending one’s time, or even a few minutes, counting the seconds. Not only could it get annoying, but if my son had continued counting the seconds, he would not have been able to listen to or respond to anything else going on! We all can recognize how ridiculous it would be to get caught up in just counting seconds (unless we are out running, perhaps, or trying to hold our breath).
A verse popped into my head about this time as I was starting the car: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Book of Psalms, 90:12, NIV) None of us knows the number of our days here; that is information that nobody receives or can figure out. However, this verse tells us that it is good to live in an awareness of our frailty, our mortality, our brevity. This awareness brings about and helps grow that “heart of wisdom”, a heart that sees life, humanity, and God in the ways that God intended. We should not count seconds for the sake of counting them, as that does no good, but we do need to be aware that time is always moving forward, and the time we get is a wondrous gift entrusted to each of us.
Is there an anchoring purpose to our lives, or are we just “counting the seconds”? Is life whirling by, never allowing us to take a breath, and we are just carried along on the wind? I believe that when we submit the purposes, desires, and loves of our lives to God our Father, we are numbering our days rightly. I believe in living in light of eternity–it doesn’t all end here. What I do with this life has significance, and it is my calling to seek out the specifics on a daily (even hourly) basis and also in a long-term sense.
As I think about the rest of today, or the next few days, or the upcoming summer, or even the next five years of my life, I can hear in the back of my mind my son’s voice, counting the seconds. I need not be frantic and rush around with no purpose. I know that what God wants to do in my life and through my life, He can and will accomplish without worrying about the time it takes. But I desire, like the Psalmist, to be a good steward of the time I have.