I have a mole on my forehead.
That, by itself, is not particularly interesting, but because of its position, it's helped me to track my slowly thinning hair. Several years ago, when I first noticed it, it was covered by enough hair that I couldn't even tell what it was. A while later, and I could make it out fairly easily; now, it's covered only because of how I happen to comb my hair. Several years from now, it will be visible for all to see, a moley testimony to my receding hairline.
I'm only 34, but the mole on my forehead isn't the only reminder that I'm getting older. I take eyedrops to prevent glaucoma. I have ringing in my ears. My shoulder and wrist joints let me know, at various times and in various ways, that they weren't really designed to sit at a computer all day. And I know that all of the real indignities of age – bifocals for eyes that have lost the ability to refocus, age-related hearing loss, arthritis and colonoscopies – are still to come. Paul wrote that “outwardly we are wasting away,” and while I really can't say that I know how he feels – I'm still too young, and my life is too easy, and American healthcare is too good – I can at least see there from here.
John Ortberg writes, “There is a strange gift in aging. God, in his severe mercy, sends us daily reminders that the game will end” (p. 50).
Ecclesiastes is a bleak book; bleak enough that parts of it seem like they don't even belong in the Bible. But its perspective is a necessary reminder that our time and our health on earth are limited:
Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”…
Remember him – before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Everything is meaningless!” (Eccl 12:1-8)
It's easy to simply let time pass. “High school, college, grad school is merely temporary; I'll get moving once it's done. This job is just to pay the bills for now, so I'll simply mark time until something better comes along. Doing anything with young kids is too hard; I'll do more later. Retirement is approaching; I'll just wait until then.” And so time passes, and years pass, sometimes without our ever stopping to notice and grab the opportunities that God gives us and live up to the purposes to which God calls us.
Our time is limited. Let's make the most of it.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:12)