The Bible contains 150 psalms. It is estimated that hundreds more were written, but only a select few were given authority as God’s actual words. Many people love reading the psalms, including myself. I have gone through periods in my life when I have read 20-30 psalms at a time. I have read through all 150 psalms several different times, and if I had to decide which psalm was my favorite, it would be the one from Moses. Yes, Moses actually wrote a psalm. We call it Psalm 90. It has impacted my soul more than any other psalm. Moses begins the psalm by stating that God is eternal. Moses says, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (90:2). He then transitions to the thought that humans are finite: “they [humans] are like the new grass of the morning—though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered” (90:5).
God is eternal. Man is finite. Most of us would probably agree with these two statements. But this isn’t what grips me. In verse 10, Moses becomes our doctor and tells us that we will only live about 70-80 years on this earth. God tells us here that the average age for a human being is right around 70 years of age. If he or she lives longer than that, they are to be considered fortunate because they have outlived the average.
Currently, the life expectancy of people who live in the United States is approximately 78. You have probably heard about how life expectancy has improved significantly over time. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for men in 1907 was about 46 years. By 1957, it rose to a little over 66 years. In 2007, it reached 75. But something that is often overlooked in these kinds of studies is the fact that this increase in life expectancy over a span of 100 years was largely due to a decreasing infant mortality rate. The infant mortality rate was almost 10% in 1907. It was only 2.63% in 1957. And in 2007, it was only 0.68%. The inclusion of infant mortality rates in calculating life expectancy creates the mistaken impression that early generations died at a much younger age than us. But this is just not true. Many more babies died a hundred years ago. Over 10 times as many babies died in the early 20th century than die today. Many people were still living into their 60s, 70s, and even 80s over one hundred years ago. In fact, many researchers estimate that the life expectancy of humans has been right around 70 years of age over the last several thousand years. The idea that our ancestors often died young (i.e. 35 years old) has no basis in scientific fact. Nothing has changed in regard to how long people live on this earth since the time of King David (ca. 1000 B.C.).
This is why Moses’ statement in verse 10 has really impacted me. We all get about 70-80 years on this earth. Yes, some people die prematurely. Over the last few months, I have conducted a couple memorial services for individuals who have died in their 20s. And some people die much older than the 70 year benchmark. Just last week I performed a funeral service for a man who lived over 96 years on this earth.
None of us know how long we have on this earth. But we can be in control of one thing. What is that one thing? Moses tells us in verse 12. We are told to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” In other words, we are to count our days so we can make our days count.
How many days have you been on this earth? If you are 10 years old, you have lived 3,650 days on this earth. If you are 20 years old, you have lived 7,300 days on this earth. If you are 30 years old, you have lived 10,950 days on this earth. If you are 40 years old, you have lived 14,600 days on this earth. If you are 50 years old, you have lived 18,250 days on this earth. If you are 60 years old, you have lived 21,900 days on this earth. If you have lived 70 years on this earth, it computes into a little over 25,550 days. If you have lived 80 years on this earth, you have a little over 29,200 days on this earth. Even if you live to be 100 years old, you will have lived between 36,000 and 37,000 days on this planet.
For me, this was a fascinating discovery. At best, all of us can expect to live 36,000-37,000 days on this earth. And if we do, we are extremely fortunate. But that is all. No one will reach 40,000 days. And certainly no one will go on to live 100,000 days. It just will not happen. Our bodies wear out too soon. Most of us get about 27,000 days on this earth.
Where are you at? How many days have you lived? Now, count up how many more days you have on this earth? Some of you are only 20 years old and you have more than 20,000 days left on this earth (Lord willing). But some of you are 60 years old, which means that you have lived over 20,000 days on this earth. What is my point here? We are finite. We only have so many days here on this earth.
If you are a Christian, this is the perspective you should have. Realize that you are finite and have an end on this planet. But also realize that God is eternal and is preparing an eternal place for you in heaven. That is why you should make sure to count your days so you can make your days count. We are to remember that we only have so many days on this planet before we expire and therefore we should learn to do the things that are worth it.
A few weeks ago, ESPN was honoring the life of Jim Valvano. Jim Valvano is known for leading North Carolina State University to an unlikely NCAA Championship in 1983. It was the twentieth anniversary of his death from cancer. Sports Center replayed part of his speech. I was running on the treadmill when I started watching him as he was speaking to a crowd of a few thousand famous people. If you’ve ever heard Coach Valvano speak, you know that he is an engaging character. He is funny. He is always heart felt in what he has to say. His speech gripped me to such an extent that I stopped jogging to simply listen to him. This is what impacted me the most about his speech. He stated that there are three things we all should do every day.
“Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.
Laugh, think, and be moved emotionally. That is great advice. We should all spend time laughing and thinking and being moved emotionally every day. If you do these things on a daily basis, then most of your days will be well lived. Did you know that there is a verse in the Bible that also tells us to do three things? God wants three things from us on a daily basis. Number one is to act justly. Number two is to love mercy. And number three is to walk humbly with your God. This is found in Micah 6:8.
Because we are Christians, we know that this life is not the end for us. We are only given 70 to 80 years on this earth. That is such a blink in th
e face of eternity. It is as if this entire life is a test for what is to come. It is as if this earth is a training ground to help us in the next life to be lived. Have you ever listened to the radio and been interrupted by the words: “This is only a test”? Then you hear the worst sound that could possibly be created come on the air waves. Those people from the radio broadcasting network are trying to prepare the listeners to be ready for a real emergency. The only problem is, so many people disregard the noise because they have never experienced a real emergency after hearing that sound. There is no connection between hearing that awful sound and the reality of an emergency. It is always just a test. I wonder what would happen if it wasn’t a test? If it was the real thing? In the same way, our lives are much like that. We go through life and we are reminded every once in a while that we should make our lives count because we will give an account someday for how we lived it. But then after a while we forget about it. I want you to understand the things that are important to God and will therefore make your life count if you do those things. Being just is important to God. Bring justice to a situation today. Showing mercy to people is important to God. Determine that you will show someone mercy today. Being humble is important to God. Focus on humbling yourself before your God today. Every day, if you can spend time doing what is just, showing mercy to one person, and walking humbly before God, then you have made that day count!