Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. – The Psalmist (Psalm 90:11-12, NASB)
I love dessert. That’s why I have to exercise regularly to control my weight. I jog three miles, three times a week. On non-run days, I lift weights. Sundays – well, Sundays I look forward to my nap on the couch after Nancy and I return from Mass.
So there I was at work one Monday, about 15 minutes after showering away the effects of an unusually grueling lunchtime run in 90-degree heat. I ignored my exhaustion and decided to take the stairs from the ground floor to my office on the sixth. By the time I reached to the fourth floor, my legs felt like mush. I almost heard them whimper at me to take the elevator.
I ignored their appeal and pushed on.
A moment later, down the stairs trotted this bouncy young lady – all of twenty, I supposed. Her broad smile faded into an uncertain grin when she saw me. By now, I was holding onto either side of the rails and pulling myself up each step.
"Are you okay?" She stopped a few steps above me. I heard in her tone the same concern I use when I meet elderly people who look as if they really need to sit down.
"I'm . . . fine," I managed to gasp between breaths. "Thanks."
I wanted to tell her I'm in great shape. I jog three miles and all of that – but thought better of it. When I nodded, she gave me one more cautious glance, and continued on her way. I toughed out the next two flights – grateful to finally reach the sixth floor.
I thought about that incident later as I drove home. It seems like only yesterday I was the one bouncing down the stairs, full of twenty-year-old energy. So, when did yesterday wilt into today? When did energy morph into exhaustion? Before we realize it, we are the elderly person we once tried to help, and we understand why the Psalmist asked God to teach us to number our days, and why St. Paul wrote: “Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
I’ve learned this lesson before, and I guess I needed to learn it again: When our yesterdays and todays terminate at the graveside, we won’t care how much money we've earned, how many awards we've won or how many miles we've jogged. What we will care about – at least, what I will care about – is, have I done all I could do for the King of Glory with the days that I had?