Our Days Are Numbered

Steve Marquez
July 1, 2015

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Wisdom is knowing our limitations. I remember a few years ago that I played basketball with some young men at Calvary Chapel Bartlett. After a few minutes, I was completely exhausted. I had to step out of the game and let a younger man take my place. When I sat down next to another man my age, I told him, breathing heavy, sweat pouring down my face, and every muscle in my body aching, that I was exhausted. Staring straight forward and shaking his head, he said,

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”

How true that was and is. There is wisdom in knowing limitations. We can thrive when we know them; we can kill ourselves when we don’t.

There is a limited amount of time to accomplish what God wants to accomplish in and through us. It is as if the clock is ticking and we are on Jeopardy. If we wait long enough, the buzzer goes off and we lose the opportunity. For some, the buzzer of life will sound sooner than they thought. I have read countless obituaries where a young man or a young woman had been driving too fast, flipped their car, and died on the spot. I am sure when they left the house that day, they said goodbye to their parents, and didn’t realize it would be their last goodbye.

The wisdom in numbering our days is realizing that no matter how long we have, it is a short time. Even if we live seventy or eighty years it’s a short time. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and went through surgery after surgery, I realized how fragile life was. A doctor could tell someone that they only have a month to live, but they could step off a curb the next day, get hit by a car, and die. The doctor was wrong, they only had one day to live.

Wisdom is learned by understanding the fragility of life. We have a short time. What are we going to do with what we have? Paul said,

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

What should we do with the time that we have? We should focus on what is important. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness puts things into perspective. When the doctor says, “Cancer” things change. At that point, life is not so much about stuff as about people. The spiritual world becomes more important; the physical goes away. Family and friends become much more important.

We’ve all been given the same diagnosis. We each have a disease that will eventually kill us. It’s called sin. There is a treatment for it, but eventually, it will get us. On that day when we take our final breath, we will not be concerned about how much money we made or about the accumulation of stuff.

For me, my thoughts went to what kind of husband I had been. What kind of dad? Did I impart enough wisdom to my boys? Did I show them enough discipline to develop their character? Did I point them to Jesus? What did I do to influence them for the kingdom of God?

As an exercise, today I will diagnose you with a deadly disease. I don’t know how many days you have left, but they are numbered. Write down what you’d like your legacy to be… and, with wisdom gained, live it while you still have the chance to do so.

Overwhelmed or Exhilaration?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:5-8

While making the surfing movie, “Mavericks”, actor Gerard Butler almost died in what was described as a “two-wave hold down.” It is when the first wave takes you down, then, before you have a chance to get back up, the second wave keeps you under.

Butler said, “‘I was down for that wave and I was down for a long time just turning and turning and then the next wave came over and I began to think ‘Wow, I’m going to die making a movie.’” He continued, “It was like a Tsunami coming in and I was down and I just didn’t come back up really,” The actor described it by saying that it wasn’t a place he wanted to be.

In Streams in the Desert, a beloved devotional, there is a haunting poem. Here is a somewhat related excerpt:

“Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know, the finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe! Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss, for the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.”

Streams in the Desert, January 28th, selected poem

Waves can also come in life. One after the other. An example of this is the story of Job. Who could read that book and ever forget the “As he was still speaking…” moments when servants came to tell Job of the great losses he had incurred. It was wave after wave of woe. What do we do when life brings this “tsunami” on us? If a surfer is to ride the waves, he must first journey through those that are breaking in front of them. They do this in various ways. Sometimes they are able to float over them before they break. Other times, they dive under the wave and come out the other side. Then there are those times that they misjudge and are caught in what we used to call, in my younger surfing days, as “the washing machine.” You just turn and turn and turn and are at the mercy of the wave and whitewash until you can come up for air. Those are scary times, as Butler can attest.

Have you ever felt this way? Do you feel as though life is hitting you again and again and all you can do is come up for air and go immediately down again? You need strength to overcome. You need help. Gerard Buttler was helped by two surfers with years of experience at Mavericks. We need help as well. Later Butler said he wanted to go back out and surf again. As believers in Jesus, we need His help to overcome. Once we figure out how to dodge the breaking waves in front of us, soon we’ll be out in the perfect point break, where, instead of being destroyed by the waves, we’ll ride them to victory in this life, and into eternity with Jesus.