My precious and hysterical grandfather passed away this past week, leaving behind an enormous gaggle of family who dearly loved him. Losses put everything into perspective.
The Lord, being a Great Weaver, laced the truths penned by Moses in Psalm 90 throughout the celebration of my Grandfather’s life together, leaving me four lasting gifts of perspective.
As I was taking off to join my family in Florida, I pressed my nose to the window like a little child. I watched as the spacious and stretching beach we frequent became smaller and smaller until it appeared as a grain of sand itself. Likewise, I watched the tallest mountain in San Diego become a small pinch in the fabric of the earth.
Seeing life from such altitude one cannot help but be reminded of God’s eternal nature and man’s limited perspective in this life. The days that seem to stretch endlessly or the troubles that shadow like mountains become considerably smaller when seen from an eternal vantage point.
Moses knew well the vast stretches of wilderness and the looming mountain ranges of life; however, he continually placed them against the backdrop of an eternal God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever you formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90: 1-2.
My sweet grandpa lived a full and intentional life of 85 years. He taught countless students math, coached young men in basketball and life, guided in a swamp boat, worked at Disney and golfed more rounds of golf than could be numbered, all the while being a husband and fathering 8 children. Seeing the beautiful box containing his ashes was sobering.
Compared to the God who knows no beginning and end, the years of our human lives are but a breath. Moses wisely recognizes that even if a man should live seventy or eighty years, those days seem fleeting and light when set against the weighty backdrop of eternity.
You return man to dust and say, “return, O children of man!” You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. Psalm 90: 3 & 5-6.
If Moses were to leave us thinking about withering grass or I were left us looking at a box of precious ashes, life would be hopeless and we would be powerless. Thankfully, that is not the case. God places our lives against such a backdrop, not to paralyze us with our smallness, but to teach us how to live well and hope for eternity.
To number our days requires us to place our days in light of an eternal backdrop that we might intentionally invest rather than squander them, that we might be fully present each day rather than rushing to the future or lingering in the past.
So, teach us to number our days so we may present to you a heart of wisdom. Return, O lord! How long? Have pity on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90: 12-14.
As person after person stood up to honor my grandfather and as stories were shared over the course of the weekend, it was clear that Grandpa’s legacy would continue in the lives of those he touched. A true teacher in and out of the classroom, Grandpa taught his family and friends more than he even realized. From how to use the backboard in basketball, to how to patiently forgive wrongs, to how to laugh loud and large, Grandpa’s life has left a permanent impact.
Moses, a man who truly invested and numbered his days, did not hang his hope for a lasting legacy and permanence on his own effort or goodness. If our ephemeral lives are to leave eternal ripples on this earth, it must and will be a result of God’s grace through Christ.
Let the favor of the lord our God be upon us, and establish the works of our hands upon us. Yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90: 17
As I return to San Diego, my heart has been changed by priceless gifts of perspective.
These days of carpools and playing baseball in the street, of teaching my boys’ hearts, of holding hands with my precious husband are numbered. I long to live my days against the backdrop of eternity, that, by God’s grace, the works of these feeble hands would be established.