Teach me to number my days O Lord, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
I was at the end of a walk, climbing up the hill to my house. Even though it’s the beginning of winter, the Lord had given us a reprieve from the bitter cold and it was spring- like. The birds had been singing all day and now lay silent. The squirrels were foraging for the last nut before retiring for the night and I felt something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As I sifted through my heart I found it. All of my senses were pulling me back to a feeling or at least the memory of one. I felt like a child at the end of a good day playing, returning home. I knew there would be a cozy home, with warm lights glowing, food to fill my hungry stomach and my mother’s arms to welcome me.
But that wasn’t now. Now I was a widow, with four children to care for and a flood of concerns that fought for space in my heart and mind. Anxiety and fear were at war with a desire to fight for joy and pressing into trust and there was always the option of retreat. Retreating to the safety of my home, of not caring, not dreaming, not loving. For where there is loving and dreaming there is risk. But without risk there is no HOPE.
I’m reading an advanced copy of ” You Are Free” by Rebekah Lyons. She challenged me to think back to a time when I felt most free. After wrestling with that thought earlier in the day my answer was coming back to me. It was at a time in my life where I knew that my life was not up to me. I was a child. I was not in charge of my present needs nor my future ones but I rested in the fact that I was being taken care of . My needs would be met by a loving parent and so I rested. I was free! Now how was I to marry this feeling of freedom with this new found discovery that life is fragile. It’s here one moment and gone the next. It was in this discovery of how short life is that I learned to lay it all down. The sweating of the small stuff, the petty grievances, the little dramas that crop up in everyday life that threaten to steal our joy. I haven’t perfected it but in reality when the big things are taken from you it’s easier to let the little things go. But while I had gained this perspective I was tempted to take this new responsibility of being the sole parent on my shoulders in much too heavy a way.
“Teach me to number my days , O Lord that I may gain a heart of wisdom!” Make us aware O Lord, of how very brief life is so that not a moment is wasted in anxiety or fear, of stress, or worry. But let us also rest in the seizing of each day. Resting and seizing, they seem polar opposites but it is in the resting that we find freedom, and it is in the seizing that we gain joy.
I realized something as I walked those last steps up the hill back to my house. I had never been in control, and I still wasn’t. What felt like freedom, as a child, that not being in charge, was still there for me. I had now succumbed to the idea as an adult that lack of control was bondage. Even as a believer in Jesus, I had let myself take hold of the idea that “it was all up to me”. I must get better at hearing the Lord, I must get better at leading my children, I must get better at praying the right things. I must get better! If I did all the things right then God would take care of us. It’s crazy how those deceptions creep in. There is work involved, there is asking and seeking and knocking involved and yet it’s not in how well I perform these things that determine how well God cares for us! Because He is good. He is the good Father at the end of the day that welcomes us home, to a place filled with light and feeds us on the truth of His word.
So this is my new prayer.
“Father, Let us rest in the fact that you alone number our days. Let us rest in all our your sweet promises knowing that you have good plans for us and after suffering a little while you will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. While we rest Father may we also seize everyday of life as the gift that it is. May we begin it in praise, soaking up all the blessings even be they in the midst of pain. May we not retreat but rather go forth and pour out the love you give, on those around us, pointing the way to the Father. And may we end the day in songs of praise to our Great God! It’s all because of Jesus, His precious and Mighty Name. Amen.”