Psalm 90:12 (ESV) … “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
With the children of Israel in the wilderness the maximum number of years was known (Numbers 13–14). With us it is not known. No wonder the Spirit of God urges us to number our days and apply our hearts unto wisdom.
For every unsaved person, of course, the first act of sanity is to accept Christ as Saviour and make sure that the proper destination is reached when the exodus occurs. The unsaved person should get the great white throne in perspective. For the believer, the first act of sanity is to get this life’s priorities adjusted in the light of the judgment seat of Christ.
John Beekman, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, was given a death sentence by his doctor. He had a serious heart condition, and it was unlikely he would live. He had one chance, a very slim one. They could insert a little plastic valve in his heart. At that time only two other people had survived the operation. He might, if he was careful, become “survivor number three.” Moody Institute of Science made a film of John Beekman’s story which was called just that: “Survivor Number Three.”
Once the plastic valve was inserted, John Beekman counted his days and applied his heart unto wisdom. Instead of slowing life down to a careful pace and hoarding his days like a miser, he threw himself into pioneer missionary work amongst the Chol Indians in the tropical jungles of southern Mexico. His story became one of determination and courage, of a life spent prodigally, with one eye fixed firmly on the zero hour announced by his doctors and the other fixed on eternity.
He and his wife Elaine ignored all the doctors’ warnings. They plunged through steaming jungles; they lived in primitive conditions; they reduced the Chol language to writing; they translated the Bible into that Indian tongue; they taught the Chols to read, led them to Christ, and saw a new civilization emerge where once there had been only savagery, paganism, and despair.
When I saw the Beekman story I thought of Epaphroditus. Paul said of this courageous warrior, who came to Rome to visit him in prison and who did not spare himself even though he was sick unto death: “For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life” (Philippians 2:30). Handley Moule translates that like this: “On account of Christ’s work he was at death’s very door, playing as it were the gambler with his life.”
Life is a sinful thing, a short thing, a serious thing. Let us pay heed to the unknown length of fuse each one of us still has left.