This month, I turned 40. While that number itself doesn’t seem like some monumental change or drastic milestone worthy of a mid-life crisis, I do find myself thinking of a familiar passage from Psalm 90.
“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Psalms 90:10, 12 ESV
Well, that’s bad news. At best, I’m at the half-way point… and I’ve never been super fit or strong, so let’s be honest about those odds!
Obviously, this is biblical poetry and not some literal maxim about the extent of human aging. Thanks to modern medicine and the progress of civilization, we have folks who live much longer. Sadly, we all know people who never reach 70 years of age.
I can’t find the source of the quote, but there’s a phrase that comes to mind:
To be clear, I post this without any morbid contemplations of aging or death, without any fear of a life wasted, or opportunities missed. It’s just the thought that comes to mind as I considered my birthday and the significance of turning 40.
Going back to Psalms, the only day that’s guaranteed in life is your last, and there’s no telling when it comes. Like a game of Russian Roulette played with years or decades, sooner or later, that final day arrives, whether you’re 17 or 70 or 107.
I focus on verse 12–its reminder that there is an impending finality, its encouragement that wisdom is found by living in light of that truth. Not that I believe I can number my days, at least not with any fidelity… but I can remember that, however many there may be, that number is ticking down.
This forces a refocusing onto what I believe matters. My faith; my relationships; those I love; the sharing of good times and fellowship; ministering love and kindness and connection; sparking laughter in a heavy heart; simply being present in a hard time.
I’ve spent more time lately planning out tabletop games than writing fiction, because to me and several friends of my family, that connection and shared enjoyment around the table is something magical and exciting. Planning a role-playing game also scratches the creative itch of the writer in me… except I’m writing for an audience of 5 or 8 players instead of blog or book readers.
The pragmatic in me says “Yes, but isn’t this a grand waste of time?” (At least, what little pragmatism hasn’t been defeated by perpetual procrastination and my playful, lazy nature.)
But it’s not about the game; it’s about the people. Shared humanity and my faith both lead me to see lasting value where others might not.
For now, I still need to learn to number my days so I can live wisely. But I know that 80 > 70. So I’m off to the gym to hop on a bike, plot out some interesting stories for the next gaming session, and work on that “by reason of strength” thing.
What do you do to “number your days” or invest in what matters? Let me know in a comment – maybe it’s an idea I could use too!