Psalm 90:3 “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’”
The length of our lives is affected by many influences both within us and around us. Diet and exercise, whether we drink or smoke, what combination of genes we inherited from our parents— all these things add years or take years from our lives, according to the doctors and researchers. Actions of others around us we can’t control– the drunk or reckless driver, the violent criminal, the terrorist mastermind — all may shorten our lives as well.
In the end, the Lord himself determines the length of our lives. He is the one who has set the limits. Psalm 139 reminds us, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Or, as he tells us in Psalm 90, he is the one who turns us from living creatures back to dust. God has decided ahead of time that none of us will live forever in this body in this place.
The time we do have is relatively short. Moses’ pictured it this way: “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered” (Psalm 90:4-6). In light of the eternity God has existed, it doesn’t surprise us that a thousand years slip by like a single day, or even the dark hours of a single night, from God’s point of view.
The same sort of thing happens to us on a smaller scale. Our lives flash before us and are gone like the sweep of a broom. They seem to shoot up like new grass just after it rains, but by that same evening, the mower may have cut it off and it is dry and lifeless.
Haven’t you experienced this apparent acceleration of time yourselves? When we were three or four years old, waiting a month to our birthdays, or to Christmas, seemed like an eternity. As we approach young adulthood, our high school years or college years pick up speed and move along at brisk pace. By middle age time is moving so fast we can’t keep up with everything that is going on. By the time the honor of “senior citizen” is bestowed on us, events of our youth may seem like just last year.
Isn’t the lesson clear? The number of our days has been limited by the Lord, and even if we die a natural death, they fly by quickly. Lord teach us to appreciate and use every one, for we will run out of them, they will come to an end, more quickly than any one of us knows. Today, this hour, is the time to confess our sins and seek God’s grace. Now is the time to be reconciled to God through faith in his Son. This is the moment to find forgiveness in Jesus’ blood and unending life in his resurrection from the dead.
The Lord will turn us back into dust sooner than we think. This is the day to discover (or rediscover) his plan to reassemble that dust into living men and women again.