Ministry Resources

Do the Math

Author: Dave Beroth

Mark Twain, while boarding a train, asked a baggage handler if his briefcase would be strong enough to be checked into the regular luggage compartment.

The man took Twain’s briefcase and threw it on the ground, saying, “That’s what it will get in Philadelphia.” He then took the briefcase and hit it five times against the train and said, “That is what it will get in Chicago.” Then he threw it on the ground and stomped on it vigorously. The briefcase split open and papers went flying everywhere. The railway employee explained, “That’s what it’ll get in Sioux City. Tell you what…if you’re going any further than Sioux City, I’d suggest you carry your briefcase on the train with you.”

In a sense, Twain was fortunate, He saw before he boarded the train what the journey ahead would entail. The best most of us can do is observe the journey of life from the windows of our moving “train” and attempt–while the scenery whizzes by–to make some half-ordered sense of it all.

Now, when I get up in the morning, sometimes, I feel like, as I look in the mirror, that my face has somehow been handled by that mythical Sioux City bag handler. This has led me to meditate on Psalm 90.

Psalm 90 is unique among the Biblical psalms in that it was written by Moses. I am of the thought that Moses may have written it at the end of his life on Mt. Nebo, overlooking the Promised Land that the Lord would—after years of struggle—allow him to see but not enter.

Moses expressed undeniable truths about the shortness of life and the impact of our misstep. Yet, it is also profoundly faithful and hopeful, commending the joy that can be ours as we trust in God’s steadfast love.

“Seventy years are given to us!
Some even live to eighty…
soon they disappear, and we fly away.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.”
-Psalm 90:10, 12, 14 NIV


A year is 365 days, which means 70 years is roughly 25,567 days and 80 years is roughly 29,220 days (with leap years).

Particularly sobering for me is to do the math. I have lived 21,915 days. If God gives me the grace to live to my 80th birthday or even beyond, the question is how I will invest in the next 7,305 days?

This may sound a bit morose, but it’s a reality for each of us. Hence, Moses’ prayer has become my prayer.

“Let us, your servants, see you work again;
let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!”
– Psalm 90:16-17 NLT

What helps you to number your days?

What helps you to live each day to the fullest?

What are the activities in your life you might want to eliminate from your schedule to ensure you are numbering your days wisely?

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