27 April 2006

"...teach us to number our days..." (Psalm 90:12)

by Dan Phillips

David Kendrick, of NY, holds the patent for a life expectancy watch (h-t Boing Boing). The watch would estimate the time of the wearer's death, and count down to that date. Could be very... very perspectivalizing.

So if someone asked you what time it is, you could say, "I don't know... but I've only got ____ left!"

Then there's another cheery little site: The Death Clock, subtitled "The Internet's friendly reminder that life is slipping away...." You put in a bit of personal information, and it tells you when you'll die. I did it once awhile back, and it said July 5, 2027. (A friend speculated that I might fall victim to a Fourth of July firework mishap, linger a day, then expire.) Oddly, when I do it again now, rating myself as having a "normal" outlook, it comes out to July 1, 2027. I've lost a few days; not a good trend. Better be more careful.

Now, if I rate myself as having an "optimistic" outlook, I've got until August 4, 2042. Hm; maybe they figure "a joyful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22a). That would have me keeling over at eighty-six -- which was my father's age, when he passed away.

So how many seconds have I got as I type now, well before posting? In the former case, I've got 668, 654, 235 seconds, and counting down. In the latter, I've got 1,144,977, 479, and counting down. Very different numbers -- but alike in that the number's getting smaller and smaller.

Now those dates of course have no authority, and might be totally off. The only certainty is that my seconds left, before I go to the Lord or He comes for me, are getting fewer and fewer.

It certainly gives one perspective, or it should. We don't know the details of world prophecy as we might wish, but we do know one bit of eschatology for certain: the Eschaton is coming towards us, and we're heading towards it. For all, "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment"(Hebrews 9:27). This should be an absolutely terrifying prospect for all who have not made peace with God on His terms, through Christ. As Christians, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

This is our only chance, as far as we know -- our only arena of walking by faith, serving God unseen in a battlefield. We shall never again serve under fire. Faith will become sight one day, His enemies will be made a footstool under His feet, and we will reign with Him. How will this brief span look then?

Do we live with that in mind, that eternal perspective? Do you ever project ahead, and think of how you (let alone God) will view your stewardship of your marriage, your family, your ministry, your world?


UPDATE: this article, and this story, very forcefully make the point that no one should count on any stretch of years, or any advance warning, as to when his time will come.

Dan Phillips's signature


4given said...

You always have the most creatively written, make you think posts on this Pyro site.

donsands said...

These are inportant thoughts to consider every day I would think.

Sometimes I am uplifted, and other times I am discouraged with my self, and my walk with the Lord.
I need to focus on things above more often. I trust by doing this I will be purifying myself. 1 John 3:3

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!

"And Lord, haste the Day when my faith shall be sight"

Douglas said...

The number of people dying per second:

Mortality Rate

The counter above reflects the estimated average number of people who have died since you opened this web page.

1.78 per second
107 per minute
6390 per hour
153 thousand per day
56.0 million per year
3.9 billion per average lifetime (70 years)

How many human beings have perished in their sins and have been cast into the lake of fire, in the eternal now? How many will be?

Do we weep over the lost? Do we sweat drops of blood? Do we agonize over them? Is eternity stamped upon our hearts?

Do we use the law of God skillfully, as the tutor to lead souls to Christ?

Gordon Cloud said...

Sobering thoughts. It should definitely cause us to focus on what is important.

DJP said...

Just struck me (never said I was bright) that the current post at my blog complements this one.

LeeC said...

I had the priveledge of hearing Steve Lawson prech on this when he washere for the Shepherds Conference.


Wish I was better at applying this truth to my life. *Notes what he is doing at 7 a.m. at the office right now*

Kim said...


Just struck me (never said I was bright) that the current post at my blog complements this one.

When I read this, I was thinking: "He's really on a roll with this topic."

It's kind of sobering, and I'm in a sober mood already, so it's making me feel kind of sad, but sometimes we need to feel sad.

Patagonia Mike said...

I passed a milestone a few months ago when I turned 50. Someone asked my father when he turned 50 how it felt to be middle-aged, his reply was; "how many people do you know that are 100"?

If I focus on myself evaluating my life can be depressing. I have not done much. I remember reading David Brainerds journal when I was in my late 20's and thinking how this man gave all for the cause of Christ. I think he lived to the ripe old age of 28.

DJP said...

It is sobering, Mike, when you realize that the odds are pretty overwhelming that you have more days in this world behind you than ahead of you. One effect it's had on me is the yearly New Year's retreat and re-evaluation.

Of course, another is the lovely reward the doctor gives you for surviving fifty summers -- but we won't go there.....

Libbie said...

I like what you said in your other post about the topic, though.
This is not a scary thing for a child of God, this a greatly liberating thing.

Mike Y said...

You know Dan, after reading your article as well as several of the posts, it reminds me of my epiphany this past Sunday. I thought about what I've done and not done over the course of my life. Likewise, I thought about the feedback of the critics and so forth.

Anyway, this sounds like a common thing. I recall the message my pastor preached on Sunday out of Romans 8:1.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

When I think of this and the fact that our glorification has already been completed by Christ and merely unfolding in time, it causes me to think about the day when Christ returns and the day I will never know sin again.


4given said...

...and why are we not looking at this as getting closer to the eternal praising of God for His undeserved mercy?

Jennifer said...

My mother passed away on Monday. I haven't been on-line until today and this is the first blog I read.
Not only have I thought about my own mortality and my impact on my family and my purpose, I've also thought that there are precious few things worth wasting our time doing and worrying about.
When it comes to the end, what's important is serving the Lord, sharing the truth, and loving your family.
Those of you whose mother is still living, please give her a call today, or stop by to see her and tell her how much you love her and how much you appreciate her.

DJP said...

Oh, Jennifer, I'm so sorry!

One of my first reactions on losing my father (who predeceased my mother) was to envy folks who still had theirs and, just like you, to urge them to take the time, use the time. You really never know how precious that will be, until the opportunities are gone.

Dad and I had a pretty good relationship, had had some good time together... but as soon as he was gone, it wasn't nearly enough.

Please accept my condolences.

Jennifer said...

djp -

Thank you. Her death was sudden and unexpected. I was supposed to visit her the day she died but never got the chance. I will always regret that.

I so appreciate that you brought this topic up and I'm glad I read it. We all need a reality check every now and again.

Life is so amazingly precious. All the petty differences, minor irritations and other annoyances matter very little.

The positive side of death is that it does cause us to evaluate our lives and what's important. If we had a watch to countdown, we'd never be able to enjoy our time. But if we never are reminded that our time is brief, we would never use our time wisely.

centuri0n said...

It said I was due to punch out in 2049.

I don't want to be the last Pyro standing ... but can we start a tontine?

Robert Coss said...

Jennifer, sounds like you turned another chapter in the book of your life. I pray God's comfort for you.

Regarding “numbering our days,” does anyone have any insight on why God or Haggai would use the word "little while" in the following statement?

6"For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. "

Why does he say "in a LITTLE while" when it would be at least 2500 years away?

Jonathan Moorhead said...

We live in very secure days don't we? Reading George Marsden's book on Jonathan Edwards, I like the way he put it: every time one returned home there was the possibility of being greeted by a new grave (paraphrase). Children were taught to prepare for death. Very different times.

Even So... said...

The more "good" info I put in, the less years I had left. When I put my real info in (the first time), it said I would live to be 98 yrs. old. The second and third time with that same original info, it came back with 76 yrs.

Hey Dave, I bet you didn't want this to degenerate into a "hey look what mine said" type of thing.

So then why did I do it?

Well, times a wastin', and I better have fun while I am at it!

Yes, I realize I missed the point entirely, but as Al Mohler told 'em at the T4G conference, we don't always receive what you meant to preach, but what we wanted to hear.


kletois said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kletois said...

Does this watch work on the wrists of Open Theists?

Dan B. said...

I guess for me, this topic has an opposite effect. It always makes me grateful for each passing minute/breath that I get on this earth. Knowing the Truth as I do and believing in the doctrines of grace, it makes me rejoice that God would set His mercy on me in granting me faith; and this makes me thankful of any extra time on this earth to share it with others (though I'd say I don't do a great job of that).

I'm only in my twenties, and certainly not experienced everything in life (I still haven't even landed a career job yet but I'm working on it), but I've experienced enough of His faithfulness within just the last five years to know that I deserve not one extra moment. I'm merely a sojourner, an alien, and He can call me (and those whom I love) when He wants.

For those that have lost loved ones, my condolences as well.

Dan B. said...

I meant to say "call me home" at the end of my last post.