It was a tough day. I had been away from the office, email and phone for several days due to a busy schedule of not only synod work, but family obligations, churchwide meetings and trainings, and tons of stuff related to regular life. So, feeling pulled in lots of different directions and not sure where to begin to catch up I scrolled through over 350 unread emails. In my line of work, I get lots of newsletter-type emails and messages from people, parishes and organizations all over the synod and across the country and honestly, I cannot and do not read them all (no offence to anyone!!!). But this day, I was drawn to one-in-particular. I don’t know why, but I am so thankful that I opened it. I read it and re-read it, and I actually think I read it 3-4 times. I needed to hear the message. Talk about a moment of Grace! My long-time friend Pr. Martin Billmeier had written a meditation that I needed just at that moment, in that situation, in that hour as a reminder of what is important and how all of this works. I share it with you now with his permission.
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. -Ps. 90:12
I’ve always interpreted this psalm verse to mean that it is wise, first of all, to remember that my days are numbered. I am not eternal, like God. Since April 1, 1959 I have been given a window of opportunity to gain wisdom in this life. “It is appointed unto humans once to die,” says the book of Hebrews, “and then the judgment.” How much wisdom and how much foolishness will that judgment reveal? Thank God for grace in Christ!
This kind of wisdom is not just from books. It is mostly a wisdom gained by walking in faith through failure, heartbreak, wounds, grief and evil times. When I say “walking in faith” I don’t mean gliding over troubles three feet off the ground, never affected by them, because of my great faith in God. Doesn’t work that way, not for me, anyway.
I have had to learn from my self-pity, my vanity, my fear, my bitterness, my depression, my reactivity, my prejudice, my times of being a total jerk. What I learn is that those things take me back to God, who gave the journey, and who invites me into a better way of being. St. Paul says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is the way of wisdom. It is the way of Jesus Christ.
So, numbering my days gives me a better perspective on life. It isn’t forever. What are the most important things? What things do I want to be remembered for? What does leaving a legacy of wisdom look like? Have I borne witness to the fact that I believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the wisest thing of all? The wonderful thing is that the whole journey for me takes place inside of baptismal grace, so I need not get stuck on the sin inside or outside of me. There is always something new to learn, always some way to grow in wisdom, love, grace, and faith. That is what life in Christ means.
Pastor Martin Billmeier
St. Lucas Lutheran Church, Toledo OH
Pray with me:
God of Grace and Mercy, bless our walk through faith today. Give us strength and wisdom to realize the fruits of the Spirit that embody our life in Christ, and in these busy, frantic and uncertain days, help us to slow down, listen to you, and rest in the blessing of your Baptismal Grace. Amen