The question is deceptively difficult to answer. We are better at measuring time than defining it. Time is measured by movement: sand through an hourglass, the shadow of a sundial, our earth circling the sun.
The great white Egret is motionless in the shallow water. Time stands still. But it really doesn’t. Even when we don’t see movement, it’s there – the beating of the Egret’s heart, her eyes watching for an almost imperceptible stirring of the water. The tiny fish swim in front of her, not knowing that she is the predator and they are a mid-morning snack to be snatched out of the water and swallowed whole.
Time is like money. Imagine your body is a home you are renting. The rent is withdrawn from a bank account every month. The money in the bank represents the time you have on this planet. You have no way to know how much is in the bank account. You can add funds to the account – regular exercise and healthy eating. You can take money out of the account – smoking, using a daily narcotic, or carrying 100 extra pounds. When the money runs out, you must move. It isn’t helpful to pretend you own the home, or that the bank account is unlimited.
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. (Ps 90:10)
Moses made an estimate of how long you’ll get to stay in the rental home – 80 years. I don’t think he was joking when he said “Toil and Trouble”. Everything is touched by sin. Aging, loss, weakness and struggle mark the human experience. And then we die.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Ps 90:2)
We serve a God who is outside of time. He existed prior to the beginning of time and will continue into eternity after this universe is no more. Our hope cannot be in our ability to freeze time, to delay the aging process. Our hope is in our Almighty Father who is the owner of the rental home, and the source of every dollar in the bank account.
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:12)
Moses' conclusion is that the path of wisdom is living as though our days are numbered - because they are. Let that free us to joyfully receive each day as a gift from above, regardless of how many are behind or ahead.