Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1955

The Days Of Our Years


"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Ps. 90:10.) "What is your life? For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14.)

These quotations from the Old Testament and the New bring sharply into focus the brevity of human life. No man can read such words with any degree of comprehension without realizing how swift and how certain is the approach of death for every one of us. All our earthly hopes and ambitions, our plans, dreams, and fondest expectations will finally come to rest beneath a little mound of dirt over which the green grass will grow for centuries after we have returned to the elements. How futile and how silly to think we can build anything that will endure on this earth!

As I write these lines I sit beneath the shade of a mighty Douglas fir, whose towering summit seems to reach into the very heavens. Its age I can only guess, but I am certain there is not a man living on earth today who was alive when this tree began to grow. Only a few hours drive south of here are the giant Redwoods of California, some of which were growing when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, and many of which were old, old trees when Jesus wept in Gethsemane. Amid such awesome works of God, frail man seems insignificant indeed.

Yet I shall live after the tallest tree shall have long since crumbled and decayed. For by God's grace my life is not limited to the few fleeting, uncertain and often miserable years of earth. The "days of my years" may be very few, but the length of my life is beyond measure. I live for eternity, not for time. The God I serve is a God of the living, and not of the dead.

How then can I ignore God? How can I put him out of my life? close my ears to his commandments? disregard his word and his will. What is the thinking of the man who stupidly bargains for this life at the cost of eternal life? "For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?" (Matt. 16:26.) It is eternally true that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." To such a man God once said, "Thou fool, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?" And Jesus added his own comment to that in the statement, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21. )

It is a calm, bright day in late summer as these lines are written. The beautiful Willamette Valley stretches before me in seemingly unending miles. The rumbling log trucks, each with its burden of three or four giant logs, roll endlessly on the roads below. The Valley is peaceful and quiet. Yet every person here is living a life that is headed toward the inevitable day of judgment. We shall all stand in the presence of that eternal judge; and each of us shall be judged "out of the things which are written in the books." The faithful Christian, the cynic, the scoffer, the deceitful worker, the misguided zealot, the ignorant savage shall each receive his due portion. That final reckoning cannot be evaded; it cannot be avoided; it cannot be delayed. We shall all be judged.

In view of the brevity of life, and the certainty of judgment, what manner of persons ought we to be? "Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God . . ." are the words used by Peter to impress our responsibility.

God's plan for the redemption of the soul is simple. By the sacrifice of Christ he has made it possible for me to escape the awful punishment which is the due recompense for my sin. Believing in Christ, I turn in penitence from sin, and am buried through baptism "unto the remission of" all sins. This brings me into covenant relationship with God, makes me a citizen in his kingdom. It then is my task to live each day in the consciousness of that relationship, to "walk worthily of the calling" wherewith I have been called.

Business ventures, family troubles, political upheavals, personal problems — how trivial! There is one problem, and only one, before every one of us: to live a life that is pleasing to God. Whether that life is lived in riches or in poverty, in political freedom or in chains and imprisonment, in domestic felicity or in misery and loneliness, is quite unimportant. Whether one receives the adulation and praises of men or their contempt and animosity matters little. If one walks with the Lord, in the full assurance of his favor, neither the flattery of friends nor the hatred of foes will count for much. The days of our years are so few, so filled with duties and labors, that we should waste little time in thinking whether our actions are pleasing to men or not. Do they please God? that is the one and only question to be considered. If yes, then with confidence we can press on; if no, then we should tremble in terror until the situation is changed.

"What is your life?" Consider it; let God's will rule your heart, and his word direct your ways.

— F. Y. T.