Saturday Sermon: Lord, teach us to number our days

Kim Simmons

If there is one term that describes the lives of most people today, it is overload.

The mere mention of the word triggers a groan within us.

Overload reminds us of the weight of everyday life. We feel overwhelmed, overworked, over-committed, overanxious, overmatched and overextended. Our tanks are on empty, and we're running on fumes.

Have you ever been in a health club and seen someone running on a treadmill? That's the mental picture that comes to mind. We're running as fast as we can to keep from falling off the back, and we desperately need to stop that relentless machine and take a breather. But we can't seem to find a button that will turn the thing off.

So, we keep running. For weeks. Months. Maybe years. And often we are running with a huge pack on our backs, full of all the "important" things in our lives. Things like family, career, athletics, financial plans, personal goals and "to do" lists. The trouble is, all of that running is beginning to catch up with us.

We're worn out. Exhausted. What has brought us to such a state? Even the wisest, healthiest and most capable among us feel it. There is a collective sense among us that our personal lives are spinning out of control, and as the pace of life increases, we often despair of ever gaining the upper hand.

Overload is really just another way to say overwhelmed. Does that strike a chord with you?

God warns us in the Bible about the brevity of life. Psalm 90 was written by Moses who lived to be 120 years old. I seriously doubt that any of us will live that long.

Psalm 90:10-12 (NIV84) says "The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Moses reminds us that life is so short and then we die ("fly away"). He asks God to teach us to number our days. So how do we number our days? I believe one way to number your days is to realize if you don't plan your schedule, somebody else will. This means that we should set our priorities based on what is truly important.

For example, our relationship with God is crucial. Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) says "I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken."

Jesus, who is God in the flesh, died for our sins and offers us the gift of eternal life through faith in him: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life." (John 6:47)

Another priority should be our relationships with others: family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. We cannot do everything, so we should use the time we have carefully. For some of us, this means we need to learn to say "No."

We can minimize being overwhelmed by avoiding over-commitment to yourself and others.

It also means we learn to say "Yes" to those things and people who are truly important. We cannot do everything, so what must we do. Do what is important first, trusting God to help us accomplish more than we could apart from him.

Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) encourages us with these words: "The Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them."

"Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

The Rev. Kim Simmons is pastor at Parkway Church in Victoria.