Numbered days


‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ Psalm 90.12

My husband and his two brothers began the difficult process of sorting through their family home this weekend. They lost their father 12 years ago and their mother’s serious fall before Christmas marked the end of her ability to live on her own.  

They spent the day sifting through boxes of photos and drawers of old birthday cards.  They found remains of past hobbies and school projects and faded photos with names and dates scribbled on the back.  Some sparked happy memories and some painful ones but together they recorded the history of a family, the highs and lows, the celebrations and the losses.

Lord, teach us to number our days.

The same day I was sitting around a table full of family and friends at my daughter’s bridal shower.  We laughed and gave advice and toasted the bride to be.  I tried to be fully present, to drink every drop of this moment but my mind kept wandering off to scenes in our garden when this young woman was a toddler and our family was just starting.  I felt a mixture of blessed-beyond-measure and nest-emptied-out all at once and I cried happy-sad tears.


Lord, teach me to number my days.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will be 51.  It is much older than I feel.  In those fifty years, I have accomplished some things I hoped I would but other plans haven’t worked out. I’ve discovered abilities that I didn’t know I had and weaknesses that I am still fighting to overcome.  There are now fewer years ahead of me than behind me; but that doesn’t mean I have fewer ideas, hopes, dreams or plans.  It feels like the less time I have, the more I want to change the world.

Lord,  please teach me to number my days.

Knowing the preciousness and the brevity of life is nothing less than a gift from God’s hand. 

Having the wisdom to enjoy every moment but to spend those moments well is priceless.

If you have a young family, you don’t know it yet but there is a moment in life that sneaks up on you.  It is the moment when a house that was full of children and noise becomes quiet.

When a son who dreamed all of his life of flying, who covered his walls with airplane posters and flight suits, is actually packing for the Airforce and the days left at home seem too many to him and far too few for you.

When your daughters and sons have found soul mates and it rains happy weddings, and letting go really hurts, even though you wouldn’t change a thing.

When you can still remember the piles of washing and smelly sneakers in the hall and homework on the table.  When you hope with your whole heart that you spent those early years well, that you didn’t clean when you should have been playing or worry when you should have been laughing.

And if you are younger than me, let me tell you a truth; it all goes by much quicker than you think it will.  There is less time to do good than you imagine.  Most upsets are storms in teacups and most worries are molehills so don’t get distracted from why you are here.

There are really only a few important things and those things are so easily forgotten.

And that should really, really scare us.

Lord, teach us to number our days.

Show us what is important and what is not.  Explain to us what matters in the light of eternity. Challenge us to live a life of fruitfulness rather than convenience and comfort.

Help us to not sweat the small stuff but to happily lay down our lives for the big stuff.

Teach us to value fixing relationships, not throwing them away.  Remind us to forgive and forget and laugh and let it go.  Show us how to be sincere, not two-faced, doers not just hearers. Teach us how to always be who we say we are.  

Lord, teach us to number our days.

So that we will add light to every gathering and grace to every relationship.  So that we will always prioritize people over possessions.  So that we will decide life is too short to be overly busy and too precious to fill with gripes and grievances. 

Lord, teach us to number our days.

Then we will tell people we love them rather than assume they know.

We will face the things in us that need to change and not even notice those things in others.

We will shun pettiness like the life-stealer it is.

We will be the solutions not the problem, the smile not the critic.

We will make time to share the good news of God’s love and acceptance to anyone who needs to hear.

And then whether we have one more day or fifty more years, we will make them count for eternity.

















Find your spot and build



In the 5th century BC, Nehemiah heard the news that would change his life.  The walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed.  For any Jew, this was distressing news; for Nehemiah it was unacceptable.

Without a doubt, many sleepless nights followed.  But, tossing and turning wasn’t enough for Nehemiah and soon he was heading to Jerusalem with official papers in his hands, ready to rebuild.

What keeps you up at night?

What injustice breaks your heart?  What wrong do you feel compelled to make right?  What stories make you cry?  What problems are unacceptable?

What has God uniquely created you to build?

On Jesus’ last day on earth, He left us with our heavenly commission.  Having been raised from the dead, He announced His ultimate authority and promptly passed the official papers to His followers, telling them to go into all the world and make disciples.

And the task of rebuilding began.

For more than 2000 years, believers everywhere have found their place along the wall, picked up their tools and started to make right what had been spoiled.

Believers like Matt, an American that I met the other day.  He is rebuilding in Harrow, London in a community of South Asians. It is a modest ministry and you won’t read about it in a Christian magazine. But with hospitality and sacrificial love, Matt and his family are sharing God’s love and beautifully repairing what is broken.

Or like the dear Italian family who spoke at our church recently.  This couple, along with their 10-year-old son, are building the Kingdom in Niger, West Africa.  The work is dangerous and fruit is slow-growing, but they are faithfully working with joy and courage and God’s Kingdom is being established soul by soul.

Some Kingdom-builders use medicine and bandages; others use computers and spreadsheets. Some teach kids, some feed the poor and some faithfully pray.  Some are called to spend their lives faithfully working on a small part of the wall, while others are given the grace and ability to rebuild large sections.

In the Book of Hebrews, chapter three, the author describes a house that is being built.  It is God’s house, God’s kingdom, God’s family. It is that house that we are called to build.

It is more than a nice project; it is what we are here for.

It is more than renovation or redecorating. It is spiritual warfare.

If we haven’t already, it is time for us to find our place along the wall. It is time to serve, not out of habit or selfish ambition, but because it really matters.  There are people who are hurting and lost and broken and forgotten.  There are needs that you and I have been created to meet; there are parts of God’s house that we are called to build.

So, let’s discover our God-given passions, the things that make us toss and turn at night, and let’s get to work.  Let’s build with faithfulness and humility, not comparing our calling with anyone else. Let us honour those building beside us and pray for those building across the world.  Let us encourage other builders in our community (there is plenty of broken wall for anyone who has the heart to build so competition between builders is just silly).  Let us build with obedience and faith, commissioned by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And let us build with courage and with joy, knowing that what we are building is strong and beautiful and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.