1Lord, you have | been our refuge
from one generation | to another.
2Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the | earth were born,
from age to age | you are God.
3You turn us back to the | dust and say,
"Turn back, O child- | ren of earth."
4For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when | it is past
and like a watch | in the night;
5you sweep them away | like a dream,
they fade away suddenly | like the grass:
6in the morning it is | green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried | up and withered.
7For we are consumed | by your anger;
we are afraid because | of your wrath.
8Our iniquities you have | set before you,
and our secret sins in the light | of your countenance.
9When you are angry, all our | days are gone;
we bring our years to an end | like a sigh.
10The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength | even eighty;
yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and | we are gone.
11Who regards the power | of your wrath?
Who rightly fears your | indignation?
12So teach us to num- | ber our days
that we may apply our | hearts to wisdom.
13Return, O LORD; how long | will you tarry?
Be gracious | to your servants.
14Satisfy us by your steadfast love | in the morning;
so shall we rejoice and be glad | all our days.
15Make us glad as many days as you af- | flicted us
and as many years as we suf- | fered adversity.
16Show your ser- | vants your works,
and your splendor | to their children.
17May the graciousness of the Lord our God | be upon us;
prosper the work of our hands; pros- | per our handiwork.
From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2010 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #20449.
Driving home from the gym tonight, my oldest daughter asked, "Daddy, where are all these cars going?" I said, "Well, honey, some are coming home from work, and some are going to work. Some are going to the gym, and some are going to church. I don't know where all of them are going, kiddo - they're going lots of places."
It made me think of the song "Ants Marching" by Dave Matthews Band. "He wakes up in the morning - does his teeth, bite to eat and he's rolling - never changes a thing - the week ends the week begins..." I've always understood the song as a call to awareness, a call to recognize that every day is a precious gift from God, even the ones in which it feels like nothing extraordinary happens.
The psalmist writes: "The span of our life is seventy years, maybe eighty, but they are marked with hard toil, they fly by and then we're gone...teach us to number our days so we might apply our hearts to wisdom." How have you marked today? Take a minute and name one thing that made today different, even if it seems like an insignificant little difference. It can be pleasant, or painful - what God wants for us is the thing for which the psalmist asks: awareness, perspective, the sense that, even on the most ordinary of days, things of consequence are taking place.
In his book The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis describes heaven as a place in which reality is so overwhelming that it is painful. Those who are unaware of where they are and what power has brought them hide in their grey lives, unwilling or unable to experience the reality around them in all its depth and power. They are so insubstantial the grass feels as hard as diamonds and they can't even disturb the delicate morning dew. Could the ants marching in Dave Matthews' song be so different?
You're going lots of places. Some of you are just getting started, some of you are looking at graduation as soon as this December. The prayer of the psalmist is not for power, or strength, or vindication: the psalmist's prayer is for wisdom, understanding, and the chance to spend the day working on God's behalf. In the end, that's a pretty substantial reality in which to live.