By Wayne S. Walker
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4). How long does it take you to take a breath? Two or three seconds? A little longer if you’re relaxed, and a little shorter if you just finished running the three minute mile! David said that man is like a breath. The parallel statement in the verse is “his days are like a passing shadow.” Thus, David is talking about the relative length of our time on earth. I just recently turned 62 years of age. To my children, that seems incredibly old, but to me, it seems as if only yesterday I was their age.
“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). All my grandparents lived to be seventy or more. My father died at almost age 83. However, not everyone lives to be eighty, or even seventy. My mother passed away at the age of 64. Some time ago, in the same week, the obituary column of my hometown newspaper contained the death notices of two people with whom I went to high school. One was a couple of years older (we bought our house from his parents), and the other was three years younger (he was a freshman tuba player when I was the senior first chair tubist in band).
“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). A breath takes a few seconds. A shadow passing by might be seen for a moment or two. Steam from the tea kettle appears for just a little while and then disappears. Life is like that. The age of 62 seems like a long time—until you get there! When compared to the history of earth, it is but a drop in the bucket. When compared to eternity, it is even less. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.”