by Sonia Hulme
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Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
The days creep along, don’t they? When you are at school, it feels like you’ll be there forever. When your children are young, you wonder if you’ll ever exit the exhaustion. When they are teenagers, you wonder how many days you’ll have spent transporting them to sport, music, parties and part-time jobs. Your own work takes more days, broken up by weekends and holidays. Then retirement, which seems exhausting too, for many. And I suspect when you are older, some days are quiet and lonely, and you begin to wonder how many more days there will be. We have a finite number of days to live, and today’s verse gives us a pause. Number our days? How do we do that? We don’t know whether our lives will be ‘short’ or ‘long’ (by our standards), and we’re often too busy surviving them to really stop and consider what’s been and what’s left.
One practice Christians of varying traditions have used through the centuries is a daily examen, or review, a daily ‘stocktake’. It involves spending a few moments in God’s presence at the end of the day, going back over it and asking a few key questions. There are many variations, but most go something like this:
1) What am I especially thankful for today? Where was I most able to give and receive love?
2) What has troubled me today? Where/who did I struggle to love?
3) Where did I notice Jesus today?
4) Where do I need forgiveness? Is there someone I need to fix things up with?
5) What am I being invited into tomorrow? Where will I need God’s help?
Over time, Christians who practise this regularly say they are more able to notice God’s activity in their lives. By looking behind for his presence, it helps to be aware of him right in front. It builds awareness that he is active in every moment of our lives. By pausing and reflecting, we come to realise that every day is a gift. Each one contains an invitation from our loving Heavenly Father to walk with him and treasure the moments and days that make up a life.
I confess I am not very good at noticing you, Lord. To be honest, often, I forget to look. But you are the author of each day of my life and I am grateful for the gift. Help me become aware that my life is full of your presence; I just need help to see it. Open my eyes to see where you are already at work and to be grateful. Amen.