“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is….My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath….We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing….And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalm 39:4-7 (NLT)
The measurement of time began with the invention of sundials in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians broke the period from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal parts, giving us the forerunner of today’s hours. As a result, the Egyptian hour varied with the length of the day, according to the seasons. The need for a way to measure time independently of the sun eventually gave rise to the hour-glass which was made of two connected glass bulbs containing sand that took one hour to pass from the upper to the lower bulb. This was eventually replaced by mechanical clocks and then by digital timepieces which ushered in the twenty-first century.
Many in our congregation have had to grieve the loss of a loved one in the past several years. And it seems that for so many, by all human standards, it was a premature death. The death of a loved one is always painful, but when death strikes someone close, who is yet in the prime of life, it can feel like an overwhelming tragedy that is too much to bear! The Psalmist reminds us in the words above how fleeting our lives are. But his words are not meant to bring despair, but to bring clarity! If our life on earth is but a breath, a moving shadow – how vitally important that we not place our hope in the corroding treasures of this world, but in the treasure of the eternal God who exists outside of time and space!
A short time ago, Joshua Nadeau was hiking the mountains in British Columbia. As I write these words, he is lying in a hospital bed, having already undergone two surgeries on ruptured arteries in his lungs, and facing a great deal of uncertainty concerning the future. Our hope and prayer is that Josh may recover and know good health for many years, but this has been one more reminder of how quickly the moving shadows can disappear! May God help us to live daily with eternity in view!