Teach Us to Number Our Days: Valuing & Intentionally Using Our Time

by Alexa Hess

My days tend to reflect the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle.

Get up. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

Again and again, this pattern continues, and as it does, it seems as if the weeks fly by like a leaf in the wind. Often, a repetitive schedule, even if it includes things I love, can cause me to lose sight of the day-to-day. Doing mostly the same thing every day can turn me into something like a machine if I’m not careful, mechanically moving from one thing to the next. 

We weren’t created to be machines. When God formed humanity, He designed humans to give Him glory, not out of obligation but out of delight. He gave mankind a world of rest to enjoy and placed them in a garden of abundance, tasking them to cultivate the beauty around them in worshipful work. While there may have been a concept of time in the garden, there wasn’t an urgency with time. Why would there need to be? Humanity dwelt with the full presence of God in a place without brokenness. There was no need to rush and no need to stress. There was just being. 

But when sin entered the world, it was as if a stopwatch clicked for the first time. Now, humanity had to deal with something they had never dealt with before: death. Mankind would have to work to keep themselves alive, and live knowing that one day the breath inside their lungs would cease. 

Moses reflects on and laments the temporality of life in Psalm 90. He writes, “For all our days ebb away under your wrath; we end our years like a sigh. Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years (Psalms 90:9-10). But in lament, Moses asks this important request from God: “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalms 90:12). Instead of allowing the temporality of life to cause Moses to be absent-minded of time, he wanted to be mindful of time, desiring to number each day rather than allowing each day to pass by. Why? To develop wisdom in one’s heart. Moses teaches us that there is something wise about being cognizant of time, and something unwise about not.

When we look at ourselves, we can see that we are not always thinking about time with wisdom. 

We can scroll “mindlessly” on our phones, surprised that we let 30 minutes pass. We can push off what is important, making excuses that there will always be more time. We can fill our time with things that only serve us and our desires. If we want to live this life wisely, we must think about our days, and what we do with the time we are given. 

The reality of death would make numbering our days seem depressing if there was no hope in this life. Moses recognized that it was only because of the grace of God that one can live with hope and joy even in the shortness of life. He writes in Psalms 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” The goodness of the gospel declares that God has indeed satisfied us with His faithful love. All of us who are in Christ were once marching toward an eternity of death, but because of our merciful Savior Jesus, we were rescued. Christ’s grace has forgiven our sins, removing the punishment of eternal death and restoring us to a relationship with our Creator. As followers of Christ, each day is a day closer to eternity, not an eternity of death, but an eternity of life. We shout with joy and are glad all of our days because we have an eternity with God ahead, where we will once again enjoy the bliss of simply being. 

But just because we have been rescued from death, and have an eternity with Christ ahead, doesn’t mean the here and now don’t matter. Moses ends psalm 90 with these poignant words: “Establish for us the work of our hands.” As believers, our time is valuable because we serve the Lord and work for His Kingdom. We labor in this life as workers for God, dedicated to building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 

Instead of allowing the days to pass us without a second thought, we are to be mindful of our days. We are to remember that while our eternity is set with Christ, our days will still pass quickly, and what we do with our time matters. When we live mindful of time, we make every moment count for the glory of God. We will stop scrolling on our phones to pick up God’s Word, see our 9-5 job as an opportunity to be a light for the gospel, and view raising our kids as valuable time to shape young minds to love the Lord. Each day, we are to live with a kingdom mindset, intentionally using our time to further God’s kingdom as we spread the gospel. Instead of not giving our work a second thought, we are to hold our hands out to God and say, “Lord, establish the work of my hands. Use my hands to serve You and cause Your kingdom to flourish as I use my time to give You glory.” 

When I find myself losing sight of my time, I remind myself that each part of my day is important. The mere fact that I have been given another day spurs me on to use my time wisely and intentionally. Instead of allowing myself to mechanically move through my day, I stop and consider the importance of what I am doing. I evaluate if what I am doing is wise and necessary for the building of God’s kingdom. And in the moments I fail, I remember that Christ gives me His grace and the Spirit empowers me to walk in wisdom. 

As followers of Christ, we are not machines but instruments for God’s glory. So let us see our time as valuable, intentionally using the time God has given us to give Him glory and make His name known. 

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