Numbering Our Days

What was your first reaction when you read the first word? Maybe you just cringed. Maybe you thought I don’t have enough of it. Maybe you thought that time was getting away from you as your kids, grandkids and others grow taller, older, smarter.

Most of us don’t believe we have enough time. An article posted on LinkedIn highlighting a recent 30-year study by Harvard proclaimed 5 Simple Habits That May Prolong Your Life by 10 Years or More. Whew, a way to get more time in five easy steps.

Whew, a way to get more time in five easy steps.

Now, before you get too excited about this, I’m happy to report there is nothing new here. The five simple habits you already know – healthy diet, daily exercise, healthy weight, limit alcohol intake and don’t smoke. Anyone surprised??

I didn’t think so. So why have so many studies been written, posted, highlighted about how to add a few years to your life. By the way, the Harvard study mentioned above reviewed 34 years’ worth of data from 78,000 women and 27 years’ worth from more than 44,000 men. This is a well-studied subject.

I know people, and you may too, that go to bed late and get up early regularly, thinking they will have more time. I once worked for a successful lawyer in a 10-person firm whose name was first on the door. He thought sleep was a waste of time and only slept from 1 – 3 am each day. He was always cranky and irritable and, surprise, tired.  He thought he was smart, but he couldn’t make the leap between his attitude, his tiredness and sleep.

I’ve also been around people who could sleep their life away and not feel  they had missed anything. They go to bed early and get up late and wonder why they are so unproductive.

Where is the balance??

We’ve all heard talk and read articles about work/life balance. I often wonder if a true 50/50 split is possible or if that is a way to make everyone feel guilty.

You might be wondering what the Bible has to say about this. Let’s take a quick look.

In Genesis, it took God six days to make the world and everything in, under and around it. Now, whether we agree it was six 24-hour days or not, it still was a remarkable feat. Then on the seventh day He rested. Do you suppose God was tired? I don’t think so, but He gave us an example of the need for rest. He may have rested at the end of each day as well. Genesis 1:5 says, God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning -- the first day. He marked off the days at the end of the work He did that day.

Following the example that God set in creation, the children of Israel were reminded about the need for rest during the Exodus and throughout their lives:

Exodus 31:15, For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.

Exodus 33:14, The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Exodus 34:21, "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

God gives rest to His children and according to Exodus 34:21, rest is necessary even during plowing and harvest seasons – when their work was at its peak.

I also read another article in the August 2018 issue National Geographic magazine that talks about the importance of rest (sleep) and how much our brains and our bodies need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. The article referred to a Rand study from 2017 that concluded that the lack of sleep (rest) results in reduced productivity as well as more work absences, industrial and road accidents, health care expenses and medical errors. It costs the United States alone $411 billion annually.  Wonder where your taxes go?

When you read the statistics above, it’s alarming to know that not only do we miss time from work and cause accidents, the number of medical errors is staggering. We’re reminded in Psalm 90:12 to “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It sounds like wisdom may be lacking in our decisions about sleep (rest).

Time. We only have 24 hours each day, eight (1/3) of those hours should be spent in sleep. That gives us 2/3 of the 24 hours (16 hours) to do our work at home, the workplace, church, etc. We are an out-of-balance nation and it shows in many ways. We are losing ground in education, science, agriculture, medicine, and more – because we’re tired!

Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)! Lord, teach us to serve You, ourselves and those around us well. Let us be an example of a people who love, believe and serve You!

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Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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