I recently read someone say that one of the reasons that we don't do the really courageous things is because we are afraid of death. (really loose translation from a small portion of a book called The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton)
If you are a Christian, you believe, at least in your mind, that this life is not the end of your life, and hopefully that what you do in this life contributes to God's bigger picture and plan for mankind.
But each of us...especially in the United States...we want a nice house and white picket fence, 2.5 kids and dog....and to live happily ever after.
Or something like that.
Our picture of a life of success is all about us. And not about anyone else. Certainly, not really even for Christians, about God. It's kind of more about God and how He makes MY life better.
And i'm not even entirely dampening all of that...God cares about people and loves people and wants good things for us....no good thing does He withhold from them who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). So if i have a point, my point is not that we're all bad for wanting to have nice things.
My mind and heart have been wrestling around with these concepts, about not being afraid of death, or not allowing an unknown fear of death to keep me from doing the things that my heart wants to do. It's not just exactly a fear of my heart beat ceasing, but also the fear of death of my own image of my self's importance. Many of the things we think we should do but don't do, we don't do because we're afraid of what we imagine another person or persons might say or think about us when we do it, When we do something out of the ordinary that reveals that we have passions and vulnerabilities that are outside of the accepted picture of success.
Moses wrote a psalm (did you know this? i did not realize this). It's Psalm 90. I've been reading it for a couple of days...no it's not that long, and i don't read that slow.....i just have needed to soak in it or something. I have probably read this chapter of the Bible many times in the past - and just sort of skimmed over it. It's honestly a little confusing. But i read something different this time. Moses recounts the amazingness and power and scariness of God and then He says, "teach us to number our days." And he talks about how short our lives really are. And how when we're gone, we're really gone. Like a blade of grass that withers and dies.
Now this sounds depressing, right? But i don't think it is.
Think about this. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life being someone he wasn't and then running away from Pharoah. He spent the second 40 years of his life watching sheep. He didn't lead the Israelites out of Egypt until he was EIGHTY. And that's the beginning of the only part of Moses' life that most people take any notice of.
What i'm thinking is that maybe when Moses was 80-something, and he was in the middle of the desert with a million recently freed slaves, he started to see the importance of a non-normal life, given over to God. And he started to see that a life that counts for God is not about the 40 or 80 or 90 years that one person might be on this earth. It is about the contribution of one's life to the plan of God and the lives that will come after.
The ironic other side of this lesson i am learning or trying to learn is that He's not interested in our age as much as we are.
Looking at a few important life timelines...
Paul, the Apostle - finally stopped persecuting Christians when he was roughly 34 years old. And in my mind i think that he just started being the Apostle Paul after that. But he didn't. It was 15-17 more years before he really started rockin' things. All of those letters we call the Epistles that we read and take instruction and encouragement from...he didn't get started writing those until he was almost 50, and he didn't really get to writing until he was in his 60s, i.e., right before he gave his life for telling people about Jesus.
Moses - he only started to catch on at age 40....he got started rocking things at age 80....and followed God for 40 more years.
Corrie ten boom - she was an unmarried woman, living in her father's home and working in her father's business until the age of 52 when she and her family were taken into a concentration camp. After the concentration camp, Corrie spent her time and life devoted to the healing of the hearts of former Nazis, and she didn't write her life-changing book The Hiding Place until she was 79. She continued to write and to minister for more than ten years after that, before she died.
Pick someone whose life impacted and inspired you and google their life's timeline. You might be surprised to find that they weren't born as a hero. They were born just like you, as a helpless baby, and becoming the person you admire did not happen like magic. These people are not the super heroes in the comics, just born with amazing abilities. These are people who struggled and had sorrow and who God had great patience with to mold them and form them into the person whose life's impact is still impacting you long beyond their earthly death.
Back to my point...if i have one....i think Moses, when he wrote and prayed that prayer, was getting hold of the idea that his life is a contribution... "establish the work of our hands," he prayed. Loose translation: please let the work of my hands mean something to the work of God. Let my hands do what is important to God. Because this life is short, and i want it to mean something to my Creator and His plan, not mine.