Recently I've realized that I have a peculiar interest in death. Don't get me wrong - I believe with Paul that to live is Christ and die is gain. However, I have no real obsession with passing from this world soon. What I have discovered though is the inherent understanding about death that it can come at any moment.
Think about it. Only one beat of the heart or only one breath separates each of us from death. Only one second or one moment in time could be separating us from where we will spend eternity. This moment comes unexpectedly for many and expectedly for a few. Some people live with a conscious recognition of their own mortality, while others deny unto death that they will die.
I've come to believe that we will live life with more urgency and passion when we come to understand our own frailty. We will evangelize with more urgency. We will care and love more deeply. Death comes to all and so therefore we cannot live as if it will not come to us.
Psalm 39 has given me some of this understanding of our frailty. Verses 4 and 5 share with us these words: "O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!"
David here asks for the kind of understanding of his frailty and ultimately his smallness versus the immensity and power of God. When we understand how quickly life can be taken away, the life that we do have will be used more preciously. Sadly, even with an understanding of how fleeting my life is, I still live with little urgency. I shudder to think of how I would live otherwise. May we learn the measure of our days and use them for the glory of God.