I Need More Time
In our super busy, crazy distracted, pressurized world the tension so many of us feel, including kids and teenagers is this: I need more time. Can anyone relate to that? Have you ever uttered the following phrases? “There are not enough hours in the day.” “Just give me give a few more minutes.” “I need a personal assistant!” Even my six year old will negotiate with me about time.
The reason we feel this way, I think, is that we don’t always know how to use time properly. In fact, we lose track of time for at least two reasons. First, we get too distracted. These are the social butterflies who get off task. Second, we get too focused. These are the hard working “A-Types” who get lost in their projects. What happens then is time flies by, our kids get older and we get older. Then we look in a mirror at our older selves and ask: “Where did the time go?!” In the moment, we were not thinking about time.
There is, however, a universal moment when we are acutely aware of time: when disaster strikes. A loved one dies. A friend moves away. A national tragedy occurs. This is the backdrop of Psalm 90. Community disaster has occurred. We do not know the details, but most commentators agree something tragic happened. The psalm is a PRAYER for wisdom—a SONG of wisdom if you will. It talks about time. It tells us to use the time we have … wisely. Look at Psalm 90:12:
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).”
This verse is a prayer for the people of Israel—and for us. It has three elements. How should we pray? First, “Lord, teach me.” We need a teachable heart to understand what God is doing. Second, “Number our days.” Show me how to use my time. Third, “Give me wisdom.” We do not know how long we have and we must become aware of the time we have.
Know Where To DWELL
The first verse of Psalm 90 teaches us about God. Look how it begins: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations (Psalm 90:1, ESV).” I want you to focus in on three words: Generations, Lord and Dwelling. The phrase, “all generations,” conveys that this Psalm is addressed to all God’s people past, present and future. This is a personal prayer, which acknowledges that God is our LORD, he is sovereign over all things in our lives. Whatever happens—he is in control.
Now focus on that phrase: “Dwelling Place.” It can also be translated God is our HOME, which would have been significant for God’s people, Israel. Remember that Israel was a nomadic people, having roamed around a left their homeland. That God is their dwelling place is a reminder that no matter where they were physically, they could always find hope, identity, and safety in their God—he solves the problem of human rootlessness.
That may be true for you as well. Maybe you don’t have hope, you are questioning your identity and calling, you don’t feel safe. God is your dwelling place. The problem is, too often we go and try to find our dwelling somewhere else. We don’t come to our true home for what we need—we go and drink from other wells when Jesus is the only one who offers living water.
Reflect On The DUST
The middle section of this psalm, vv. 3-11, teaches us about ourselves; it shows us humanity’s relationship to their Creator. What does the author say in v. 3?
You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” (Psalm 90:3, NLT)
For this movement, the key question to ask is: Who are we? Focus on that word, dust, for a few moments. This word teaches us a truth about ourselves and a truth about God. First, returning to dust recalls Genesis and the curse of Adam. Like our ancestor, we are sinners who rebel against a Holy God. Second, the phrase, “You turn people back to dust,” is a picture of God protecting his own people from their enemies. God is a shelter for his people. We are sinners and we need our Holy, powerful, loving God to save and protect us. Those are amazing truths.
The question for this section is this: Who are you? In his book on prayer, Tim Keller makes this assertion: “We can only know ourselves rightly when we see ourselves in relation with God.” Underneath vv. 3-11, the psalmist makes it very clear we are sinners deserving God’s wrath. Look at vv. 8-9: “You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan (Psalm 90:8-9, NLT).”
This is the key to understanding why we waste time: we spend it on ourselves! We engage in selfish pursuits. Until you understand you are a sinner, that you are focused on yourself, that you are living life, not for the eternal but for the temporal—you will waste time. Stop living for yourself!
Number Your DAYS
Now we come to v. 12: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12, ESV).” What does it mean to number your days? Most people would think numbering your days refers to “counting down your days.” In one sense, that is correct here. However, I want to make a distinction: this phrase refers to a preset period of time that God has planned for us.
Let me make this clear: before you were born God ordained the number of days you have on this earth. You cannot change that. You don’t have any control over it. All you can do is choose to use the time you have been given wisely. How do you do that? Dwell in the right place. Reflect on the dust. If you do that, you will place your trust in God alone.
Did you notice wisdom is linked to time? Why? The fool does not consider the time they have. The fool wastes their time on frivolous things. A person who wastes time does not understand their purpose on this earth, which is to give glory to God! We live in challenging times. Some of us are walking through tragedy right now. Others are facing hard questions or hurdles in life. Others still are facing health challenges. The question is, when those challenges come, and they will, how are you using your time?