How Fleeting Life Is

Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Psalm 39: 4 – 5

The morning had gotten off to a slow start and I was determined I was going to get some things done that I had put off forever! I had just gotten started when the phone rang and for the next hour and a hour, I did nothing but sit and talk to the boys.

Cole doesn’t have preschool on Friday mornings so we often get to have these little chats, which I so look forward to and enjoy! He is so funny and keeps us laughing! On this day we had a good one as he told me all about going with his mom to see the oldest lemur in the world at a museum near their home. He told me everything about her. Did you know her name is Cynthia, she is 33 years old, has 2 daughters, loves dried fruit, and that lemurs usually don’t live past 15 or 20 years? Ah, the things they teach me!

Then what a surprise to get to have the sweetest conversation with Miles too for about an hour! Sadly, he was home from school with strep throat and he called to tell us he was feeling better.

I can say with all sincerity that I didn’t even think about the things I needed to do as I sometimes do. None of it mattered and I took the time to enjoy this gift I had been given. The fact that they even desired to spend this time with their old grandmother was priceless!

Miles and I talked about so many things. As he has gotten older, I sometimes think “this Nan and Miles thing” we have had going on for the past 7 years is coming to an end. He is getting more and more interested in sports and golf and loves his granddad something fierce. I love that he does, but still, it is with a little sadness that I know he is growing up and developing new interests!

Thankfully, we share a love of history and reading. We have had some great conversations, and he is always asking me questions about my childhood and what my life was like growing up. I always try to give him a sense of who I and his granddad were before he came along, as well as give him details about his great grandparents’ lives. I think it’s important that we share these things with our kids and grandkids and gratefully, he always wants to know more.

We talked about school and he said he might want to be a pro basketball or soccer player someday, or maybe even an author. We  discussed different authors he likes and the different books he might like to read that were favorites of some of my students. Then he began telling me about one he read recently about time travel. We started talking about what period of time we would like to travel to if we could choose. I definitely said the pioneer days because I like the idea of having my family together under one roof and working together on the farm and in the garden, but he reminded me of the wild animals and Indian attacks we might have and all the conveniences I would have to do without.

He said he would definitely choose a future time to visit. Without thinking, I immediately said, “Not me. The future is too scary for me!” He was really puzzled that I would say such a thing.  He reminded me of all the things that might be invented and how much fun it would be.

I immediately realized for a little 7 year old boy who has the whole world ahead of him with all his hopes and dreams, the future looks bright and exciting, and I had to have just as much hope for him as he did. I quickly replied, “But think of all the things this grandmother wouldn’t know how to do. Even now, I don’t know how to use the I-pod and I-pad and how to download games and do all the things you already know! I would be lost with all the technology to come, and it would be pretty scary to not know how to operate all the things around me.” He replied that he would teach me. Oh, the hope of a child to think that I would still be with him far into the future!

It bothers me sometimes that I can’t live with more hope for their future. It truly does seem so uncertain and scary to me. The life that is unfolding before us seems so unfamiliar to the one I knew growing up. But my very wise daughter often reminds me that my parents and grandparents probably felt the same way as events unfolded in their world and changes came. So true, but still . . . These little boys have such an innocence, and they haven’t learned the ways of the world with all its darkness and evil.

To them, life is full of goodness and love. Yet, I am so grateful for this time of sweet innocence that they have and that they are able to live with such hope and anticipation for what is to come. I often have to remind myself that God is in control and with Him there is always hope for those of us who know Him. I have to remind myself to give Him all my fears and concerns. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us and I know that to be true. I have experienced it numerous times, and I know He will be with these little boys as they grow and change and the future opens before them. Trust in Him I will. Life’s too short to spend it worrying about what might be, and I know He holds the future and these little boys in His hands.

Spending time with them on the phone this morning was precious time and nothing on my list couldn’t wait! As we grow older, I think we gain a little more wisdom about life and the limited number of days or years we have left that makes each one a little more bittersweet, but we also lose some of that sweet optimism and joy for the future.

Yet, we are reminded that we must enjoy each day, see each one as a gift, not be so concerned with what is to come, and just enjoy what is before us in the present. Even in doing so, we can’t deny that we have seen how fast the years go by, how quickly our kids and grandkids have grown up, and how fleeting and fragile life is. We can appreciate the time and enjoy it, but still, it seems like such a small window of time.

Even Scripture tells us this is true. David writes in this Psalm about life being but a breath and how quickly it goes by – just “a mere handbreadth”, the shortest of the natural measures, the distance between 4 fingers – the top of the thumb to the little finger – just a moment in time to God. He has made it so and has given us this gift of life, no matter how brief it may seem. It is His to give and we must look to Him and trust Him with it.

I have had the most wonderful life and am so grateful for all the blessings I have been given. I feel as if I have fully and deeply appreciated the people God has placed in my life and I have learned to enjoy the moments.

So my message to you and to me on this day is that sometimes we should just put aside all those things we need to do and just enjoy the sweet gifts God has to offer.


Dear God, our Creator and Sustainer of Life, we thank you for the gift of life, for the lives of those we hold dear, and for the hope of the eternal life to come with you. Thank you for time you have given us and for the days and years to come. Only you know their length and what will unfold before us. Help us to trust you with our futures and to know that you are always with us in our present. May we take advantage of each day and appreciate your goodness to us. Amen

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