“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.”
Though sometimes viewed as overly pessimistic, the author of Ecclesiastes may instead be classified as a keen observer of “the way things are.” For example, any sincere student of human life can only agree with the observation made in today’s text: “One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays.”
Some consider looking at “the way things are” to be the opposite of dreaming and hoping, preferring instead to proclaim, “The sky’s the limit!” “Wisdom of heart,” however, the wisdom that comes from genuine faith and hope, comes, at least in part from the ability to “number our days aright” – to know and embrace certain limits, including the limits imposed by time.
To maintain the illusion of being naturally “limitless” provides little room in our lives for the amazing power of God. The tendency to think of ourselves as limitless goes hand-in-hand with the tendency to think of ourselves as self-sufficient. And self-sufficiency, by definition, marginalizes the place of God in our hearts and lives.
We are encouraged by Jesus himself, born in a particular place and time, and “burdened” with the limits his humanity imposed. Yet, from within that “limited” life lived in loving obedience to his Father, the whole world has been transformed! Perhaps in the light of that truth, we may begin to believe that our limits are not so “limiting” after all. We might even dare to acknowledge that God works in our limits!
Where are we experiencing our limits today? Perhaps limits of time (“I can’t get it all done!”). Perhaps limits imposed by sickness or aging (“I can’t do what I want to do!”). Perhaps limits experienced by what we perceive as lack of skill or gifts (“How can I possibly do this?”). Lord, give me wisdom of heart. Lord, give me the faith to trust that you will work with me, in my limits, today.
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