was born in this blessed month of April. While thankfully reflecting on the fact that God gave me and many other April babies out there another year to celebrate life, my thoughts went to Psalm 90 usually identified as the Psalm of Moses. With birthdays in line I thought this Psalm provides an opportunity for introspection. Moses started this Psalm with an acknowledgement of the omnipotence of God and His strength in providing a place of refuge for him. He then took a panoramic view of how God has existed before the mountains were formed, and even before the earth and the world were created and ended on the second verse with a breathtaking affirmation of God, "from everlasting to everlasting You are God" referring to the eternal, immutable and unchanging nature of God. To Moses God is awesome in nature, and surpasses all limits "a thousand years in His sight are like one day". God is also nurturing, before Him we are all like grass which grows up and flourishes in the morning. He is a forgiving God who "sets out our iniquities before Him". Moses had a profound view of God. He then swung to verse 10 where He contrasts the permanence of God with the impermanence of our own lives. He reminds us that our life is transient with limited life span. He says the days of our lives are 70 years and if by reason of strength they are 80 years, which however are soon cut off and we fly away. In verse 12 in the light of all that Moses knew about God, he then prayed a significant, deep, intense and outstanding prayer "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom", a prayer as poignant as David's own in Psalm 25:4. "Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your path".
From all these I could not help wondering where Moses description and the affirmation of God with that sharp summary came from. Obviously it must have come from his deep and personal knowledge of God. Moses is described as a prophet whom "God knew face to face" (Deut 34: 10). The Bible also says that the Lord would speak to Moses as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11). Obviously Moses relationship with God was intimate, up close and personal. Moses days were God filled and God centered.
Moses expression "number our days" caught my attention. I then began to reflect on what Moses meant exactly by this numbering of days, what would be the dynamics of numbering of days and also the implication from Moses perspectives. Does it mean merely taking note of our days, like keeping a diary? When we human beings number our days we do the chronological thing, counting and recounting our achievements in days, months and years. We say things like, I was born in year so and so, started school five years later, finished school in year so and so, went to college in year so and so, got my first job in year so and so, fell in love in on day so and so, got married in year so and so, had a baby on day so and so, had another one in year following year, bought my first car in year so and so, followed by my first home in month so and so. Thus we continue to number our days. There is nothing wrong with taking note of our life's achievements. It gives us the opportunity to thank God and praise Him for the land marks of life, for the appreciation of the blessings that have come our way, and for looking into the future. However Moses prayer was not teach us to number our "months and years" but to number our "days". If numbering of days, months and years is as easy as keeping a diary of life's event which many people routinely do, I don't think Moses would need to pray about that. But I believe Moses had something else in mind. Moses was thinking more about "daily" interaction with God.
If Moses were to "number his days" he would talk about being pulled from a stream as a baby in a basket. He would talk about being raised as a privileged prince in the court of Pharaoh. He would talk about how he eventually discovered that he was not an Egyptian but Hebrew. He would talk about the events that led to his killing an Egyptian. He would talk about his escape from Egypt and finding himself a worker in the house of Jethro. He would talk about marrying Jethro's daughter. He would certainly talk about his call by God from the Burning Bush. He would talk about his 40 days experience with God on the Mount without food and water. He would talk about collecting from God what has become the blue print for God's children, The Ten Commandments. He would talk about God's command that he returns to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh and also about the plagues that God unleashed on Egypt that led to their release by the hard-hearted Pharaoh. He would certainly talk about the great phenomenon, the parting of the Red Sea and the part he played in it. He would talk about the 40 years journey in the wilderness, and how God fed them with manna and even how the people's clothes were not torn, their feet not swollen and their shoes not worn (Deut 8:4). Moses would even talk about his experience with these hard-headed people that left him frustrated to the point that he disobeyed God's simple instruction at Meribah. He would definitely talk about God's anger with him which led to God's decision that he would not enter into the Promised Land.
From all the accounts in the Bible, Moses life led from one thing, to another and another and another all towards one goal, to achieve some purpose, God's purpose for Moses and God's purpose for His people. Moses numbered days made sense to God, to Moses and even to all of us reading about it in the scriptures today. The key aspect of Moses numbering of his days was that each day, Moses walked with God. He walked in that "pillar of cloud" by day and the "pillar of fire" by night. He delighted in God's presence each day to the point that he told God that he would not go anywhere if God's presence did not go with him (Exodus 13:15). Moses certainly lived his days for God. He responded to God's agenda. He agreed to God's purpose and in wisdom he changed course whenever he was asked to. On a daily basis, Moses consulted with God and submitted at every turn to God's plan and intention. Moses was able to achieve all that he did in his 120 years of existence because he daily numbered his days with God's benchmark.
Of course Moses made some mistakes, like all of us he was human. He had a very tough task, he knew it and so he stayed close to God on a daily basis to acquire a heart of wisdom to do the job. I am sure that his daily reflection, his daily consultation with God and his daily evaluation of events helped him to stay on course till the end. When Moses life's assignment was over and God told him he would not be crossing over to the Promised Land, Moses in wisdom accepted God's decision and prepared the next person to carry the torch by laying hands on him (Deut 34:9). He readily wound up and gave Joshua his handing over notes. I believe that for all these God rewarded Moses with a very long life that his eyes were not dim and his strength not diminished (Deut. 34:7). The Bible also said that when Moses died God buried him in a place that up till today no one knows where his grave is, not even the modern archeologists. What a significant end to a significant relationship!!!
Moses obviously did not undermine the challenges of each day of his long life; neither did he take his relationship with God for granted. Moses established a solid relationship with God because he knew that "numbering of days" would not be easy for anyone and that there would be challenges. He also knew that God's help would be needed; hence he devised and put together that prayer for assistance. I believe that the significance of Moses "numbering of our days", as the Bible tells us, is that God daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19). If God gives us benefits each day, if we receive goodness from Him on a daily basis, if He carries our burdens day after day, should we not be accountable to Him on a daily basis, should we also not ensure that we return something to Him on a daily basis?
So I thought to myself what about all of us, me, you, my co-April babies out there and many others who will read this, how do we number our days? How do we make each day memorable so that like Moses life the overall layer will be a profound life lived for God. I believe that Moses "numbering of days" involves four concepts: meaningful, fulfilling, worthwhile and purposeful. As we all celebrate our birthdays this month and at other months of the year, let it be a time of rejoicing, but let it also be a time of self introspection and reflection as we continually reflect on these concepts as they apply to us and how they contribute to the overall numbering of our days.
Meaningful: Firstly on a daily basis let us ask ourselves has the day been meaningful to us, meaningful to the people around us, and above all meaningful to God. What meaning would God ascribe to how we have spent each day that He gives us? Can we at the end of each day truthfully say yes we have lived this day for God, for humanity and for the good of all?
Fulfilling: Does each day satisfy some predetermined requirement which is what fulfillment is about? Our life is more than "eat and drink for tomorrow we die" (1Corinthians 15:32). What are the set goals for our lives? What do we want to achieve? At the end of each day we want to ask ourselves if we have inched closer to the fulfillment of those set goals.
Worthwhile: The hard questions that we will need to reflect on each day would be: Has each day been worth the effort? Has each day been worth the time? Has each day been worthy of God's attention? Does each day have a merit? Has each day been worth numbering?
Purposeful: Is our numbered day purposeful? To what purpose are we living each day? Purpose is something that one intends to get, do or plan. Our life is not created by accident but for a specific reason to achieve a specific intention. So what is the ultimate purpose of each of our lives? We can only work towards it if we know it, otherwise we will just be like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind (James 1:6). And how do we know this purpose? It is by walking with God like Moses did on a "day to day" basis to know, to understand and to fulfill that purpose.
The second part of Moses prayer has to do with "wisdom". He says teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Wisdom is not some advanced form of knowledge or learning. It is not a rare sense of deep understanding; neither is it something mystical or mysterious only possessed by some Oriental sage. Wisdom in Greek is "chokmah". It simply means skills of living. Wisdom is commonsense, it is understanding the way of the world. It is not what one knows intellectually, but what one does practically with what one knows. It is truth applied. James 3:15 tells us that wisdom comes from God therefore wisdom is divine. It is knowing how God works. What is the connection between numbering our days and having a heart of wisdom? A heart of wisdom is not a condition. It is a process. As we number our days, we are able to reflect and evaluate each day. If we do not achieve what we have hoped for one day, hopefully we have another day to make amends; we are given each day to be able to improve as we go along. Above all having a heart of wisdom is "critically" giving thoughts to and analyzing the events of each day so that we have each day to restructure, to strive again and again. I believe that God in His scrutiny found Moses days, meaningful, fulfilling, worthwhile and purposeful. And of course there is ample evidence of wisdom in Moses' life.
I like the chorus of a favorite song that captures the essence of our numbering our days "One day at a time Sweet Jesus that's all I am asking from you, just give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do. Yesterday's gone Sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, Lord help me today, show me the way, one day at a time". So to all of us knowing fully well that we cannot do this by our individual strength and that we need help from above with the attending "wisdom", let us each follow in Moses footsteps, applying his prayer as our own daily supplication, Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Amen.