In the 90th Psalm Moses revealed a keen awareness of our need for wisdom in living out the span of days allotted by the Lord. One unexpected result of learning to “number our days” is that we gain a working knowledge of the difference between the qualitative and quantitative value of time.
Wedged between the rather Muggleish Psalm 90 and Psalm 91 you will find Psalm 90 3/8 (think, Harry’s Platform 9 ¾), and in it a lyrical fragment from the 60’s.
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
– Simon & Garfunkle, Feelin’ Groovy
Time can be measured as a metronome sequence of events (chronos), or as an opportunity (kairos). Moses has chronos in mind when he tells us to “number our days.”
Here’s what we need to do: 1) slow down; 2) listen; 3) learn to say no. Some practical benefits: 1. We will live longer. 2. We will be happier. 3. We will discover that we actually do better work! 4. Suddenly those closest to us will come into focus. Once the fog of distraction clears it’s like, “really, where have you all been?!”
The instrument of instruction during my slowing-down periods has been music. Music can keep us from the peril of missed opportunities. That’s what Paul is warning us to guard against.
Another “Paul”— modern day secular prophet and lyricist Paul Simon—captures the essence of the missed opportunity in his lament, “Slip Slidin’ Away:”
I know a father
He had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons
For the things he’d done
He came a long way
Just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and headed home again
Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away
It’s hard to stay sensitive to opportunities when the world, the flesh, and our enemy are screaming in our ears. The resulting cacophony dulls us to the beauty of silence where we can attune our hearts to the still small voice of God. C. S. Lewis understood that part of Satan’s strategy is simply to fill our lives with distracting noise:
We will make the whole universe a noise in the end….
The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end.
But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, #22
It doesn’t matter how much time you invest in living your life if you squander the days you’ve been given on junk.
So, it all comes down to choices.
We choose to count, to remind ourselves of the brevity of our lives a la Moses.
We choose to redeem the time a la Paul.
You may be surprised that you emerge from that intentional pause in which you kicked down a few cobble stones feelin’ — you know.