You’ve got a number attached to you. You just don’t know what the number is . . . yet.
But, you will. One day.
Author John Burke calls this “two dates and a dash.” We normally see two dates and a dash precariously and soberly placed on tombstones.
Mine will read 1971 – ______ (whatever year my life on this planet ends). I’m hoping for 2171. Not terribly hopeful . . . but hopeful nonetheless. Your life BEGAN, so this means your life will END. This is the nature of . . . our nature. The only One who doesn’t have an end, is He who never had a beginning. Thus, this life is about meeting and knowing the One whose Life extends above and beyond this life we’ve been placed in.
How does David the Poet-King define human existence? He believes that we are “fleeting . . . merely moving shadows” (Psalm 39:6–nlt). The words “moving shadows” is actually the Hebrew term tselem (tseh-lem). It describes a sort of representational image. The term is one used to identify the statues of gods and kings in the ancient Near East. But, its most telling usage in the Old Testament is when it’s used to reveal WHO and WHAT WE ARE as humans. Moses recorded that we are created in the tselem of God—-the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). We’re images of something else Bigger. That can only mean that THIS life that we see, smell, touch, taste, hear, and measure is the weaker copy of a life more abundant, textured, deepened, and fulfilling. This life is a tselem of another! These two—-the earthly life and the eternal one—-are linked, but one is more about the other. And not the other way around.
The Psalmist said God has made “life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a BREATH” (39:5). It’s over quicker than we think it will be. Statistics tell us that the average American will live 28,725 days. That sure seems like a lot. It’s a lot until our soul fully realizes that these days get fewer in number and past us faster than we realize. We won’t get yesterday back. That’s humbling. If this is the case—-and we do, in fact, have a finite number of days—-we should make this FIRST DEEP “BREATH” OF LIFE the preparation for the PLUNGE into the Real Pool of the Great Forever. Of course, to say that we haven’t fully jumped into the shimmering splash of Eternity doesn’t mean that we’re not yet in the deep end. We are. Life is always the deep end. What you and I do with our remaining breaths matters profoundly. Doctors tell us that the average human takes about 12-15 breaths per minute. It means you and I will take around (give-or-take) 20,000 breaths today.
Stop for a moment and listen to your breathing. Take notice of it.
You are mortal.
Now, I’ll grant, 20,000 is a big number. And when you calculate 20,000 breaths by the number of days you have left . . . well, yes, that’s an even bigger number still. Doing my most accurate fuzzy math, today, I still have over 287,000,000 breaths left. Whew. But, in doing my mortality arithmetic, I just discovered that I’ll officially cross past the Halftime of My Life before this month ends. That sort of freaked me out. I’ll have breathed more breaths already than I have left. I have a number . . . and it gets smaller with every day. With every breath. You have a number, too.