Do you like puzzles? Here’s a riddle: I have a cousin who isn’t having a birthday this year. She didn’t have one last year and she won’t have one next year either. She will have one in two years although. Here’s a hint: while she is nearly eligible for social security, she can truthfully make the claim to still being a teenager since she has had only 15 birthdays.
Answer: She was born on February 29 so her actual birth day only rolls around every four years. I’m not sure if she celebrates her big day today or if she blew out her candles yesterday.
While, I don’t have my cousin’s excuse, there may be days when I act like a teenager (so says Karla) but there are probably more days when I feel like I’m ready for the rocking chair. In either case, the truth remains I am closer to the grave than ever before.
Moses, who knew a thing or two about birthdays (on his last birthday he blew out 120 candles), wisely instructs us in Psalm 91: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 91:12). Moses understood whether born in a leap year or not, we are not guaranteed any birthdays. Our days are numbered and we aren’t the one who numbers them.
None of us are promised another year on planet earth. As many of you know, our family has recently experienced grief (Karla’s dad passed away less than two months ago). Likewise, many in our church have freshly faced death’s menacing reality. Just this week, a classmate of some of our children passed away. Our kids had prayed for this precious little girl last Sunday in Children’s Church and now that little one is in heaven; yesterday a pastor officiated the funeral of a 25 year old man; tomorrow our funeral committee (they are awesome servants by the way) is preparing a post-funeral meal for the family of a church member; and then on Saturday I will attend the funeral of mom and step dad of a lady from Central both of whom passed away within two weeks of one another and the family is having one funeral for both parents. Death is a constant reminder that our lives on this old world are numbered, and we aren’t the ones who number them.
Added to these tragedies is the national grief we are experiencing in the wake of the latest school shooting. Politicians will debate the best strategy moving forward, but all of us can agree that school shootings are a national disgrace. Our kids need to be safe and should be worrying about who to ask to prom not if there’s an active shooter is in their building. By heart breaks for the students and grieving families in Parkland.
My intention isn’t to be Pastor Grim Reaper today, but simply to remind us that each of our numbered days is precious. Every day is a gift. Hug your kids a little tighter and let go of grudges a little quicker. Don’t take your days or your relationships for granted. Use your days for God’s glory whether you are 14 or 84.