31. WASTED DAYS

WASTED DAYS

 It’s one of those verses that seemed to jump off the page when I read it last night.  I’ve certainly read it before, but I don’t ever recall it making much of an impact on me.  It was just one of those things I “knew” that was in the Bible and contained some solid advice for living a life of significance.  But I have never seriously spent a lot of time thinking about this verse or the truth it contained……until last night!

First, let me give you a little context.  I had one of “those days” on Wednesday!  You know the kind I mean.  I got up at my regular time, but for some reason I was moving in slow motion through my morning routine.  Everything just seemed to be taking longer than normal. I couldn’t decide what to wear, my hair wouldn’t cooperate, and my mind kept drifting off from the task at hand.  Simple things like packing my lunch, making my morning coffee, or feeding the dog seem to become major chores.  By the time I walked out the door I was already running 20 minutes behind schedule.

Before backing out of the driveway I decided to check my email for anything important. The first email I read hit a sensitive chord on a personal level, stirring up some feelings that changed my entire outlook on the day. Driving into the office it seemed that I got behind every slow driver on the road, blocking my progress and feeding my now already somewhat sour mood. Though I was pleasant to those I interacted with upon arrival, inside I was not all there. I was distracted by the way my day had started and found myself unable to focus.

I’d like to say things got better through the day, but honestly they didn’t. I did what I could to address the tasks on my plate, but my results were mixed at best. I tried to read my Bible, then gave myself a good pep talk and finally ended up taking a few walks around the building trying to clear my head.  It just didn’t work!  Nothing really bad had happened……I was just having one of those “wasted days” where I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything.

Interestingly enough, the next two days were just the opposite. They were days filled with accomplishments, big and small.  I worked hard, enjoyed interacting with people, and went to bed each evening feeling like I had fulfilled my purpose for that day!

But then Saturday came……a day off no less!  While there are lots of projects on my “To Do” list around the house I woke up with a strange feeling I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.  It’s not that I didn’t want to – I just couldn’t seem to motivate myself to do them. I spent several hours watching TV, thinking about things I wanted to do, but not doing them.  Yes, I probably needed the rest after a long week, but the day still felt somewhat “wasted”, much like my day had felt on the preceding Wednesday.

Two seemingly “wasted” days in the same week!  Perhaps that’s why the verse hit me when I read it this evening more than it ever had before!!  The verse is Psalms 90:12,  “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”   If there’s a lesson I truly want to learn at this stage of my life it is to “number my days”!!

The fact is I’m actually older now than I believed I ever would be when I was a young man.  For some reason I had a sense that I would die young.  I didn’t have any rational reason for such a feeling, but I can’t deny that it was very real. That potential shortness of time seemed to motivate me to move forward with a built in sense of urgency. That drive served me well as I worked my way through school, began my ministry, and even took on a number of local, regional and national projects.

The drive is still there, but as I’m getting older I’m beginning to experience the limitations of my physical resources.  I can no longer play the sports I used to play, work as hard on house projects or in the yard, or keep up with the pace I had become accustomed to. I have to consider the investment of energy vs the return on the investment more often than ever before.  I have begun to feel my limitations –physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.

We are all prone to the drain of our personal resources by this thing we call life.  It will take its toll on all of us through a seemingly endless series of ups and downs.  People will demand our attention, create chaos, and complicate our days.  There will be unexpected hassles, financial reverses, circumstances beyond our control, and more things to do than we will ever have hours to do them.   No matter how much we accomplish, there will always be more that we could have done, perhaps even should of done.  As a result, we will have “wasted days” that we cannot get back.  That’s part of the frailty of being a human.  We are subject to the limitations of our body, mind and spirit. We can’t change that reality!

Therefore, the Psalmist says we should “number our days”. I don’t think that he wants us to morbidly count down the days until we die, but rather make the most of the opportunities we have. And I think that includes recognizing that we will have some of   “those days” when we just can’t seem to get it together. That’s not a failure on our part…..it’s a part of the human experience. Our physical bodies have their limits; so do our emotions, intellect, and mental well-being. They’re all a part of who we are and how we interact with the world around us.  Sometimes that will go well; sometimes not so well. The key is to keep moving forward, despite those “wasted days”.

I want to make the most of the opportunities God has given me in this life. I may not be as strong, or quick, or agile as I used to be, but I do hope I’ve learned a few things along the way.  Perhaps wisdom is actually truly understanding your time is limited and therefore making adjustments to use it better, even on “those days. I’m writing this article on that “wasted Saturday” to see if I could put the Psalmist’s words into practice.

I’m convinced we won’t always feel like we’re on top of things.  In fact, I’m convinced of just the opposite.  But maybe that’s exactly why the Psalmist wrote what he wrote. Good days come, good days go…….and so do the bad ones, the wasted ones, the difficult ones, the frustrating ones.  Perhaps if we conscientiously understand that we can roll with the punches better and make the most out of chaos that will be our life at times.

“Wasted days” are only wasted if you don’t learn anything from them. I think I may have learned something today.  If sharing my thoughts about the Psalmist words helps you the next time you have on of “those days” then perhaps this day hasn’t been “wasted” at all.