Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. — Psalm 90:12
People wonder if God talks to people anymore. People wonder about people who say God talks to them.
Since this author is convinced of both — that God does talk to people, and God speaks to me — you may wonder about me. You’re welcome to do so. It’s a long line, and I’m in the front. I wonder about me a lot myself.
We should be clear about what we mean by this speaking with God business.
It is not unexpected that there is uncertainty about people who say they’ve been in conversation with God and instructed by Him to do certain things. It started with Moses and the burning Bush, continued through and number of old testament prophets, and the new testament church builders — Jesus and Paul.
God-speak lunacy has been attached to crusaders, warriors, soldiers, church leaders, contemporary politicians and media practitioners. Indeed, a reason for much of our American party fighting is how either side co-opts God-speak to justify a personal cause that affects public policy.
Example: I recently read a New Yorker reprint talking of how George W. Bush spoke of how God told him to invade Iraq; contrasting that point of view with how Muslim opponents contend the same type of conversation with Allah compelled jihad. So, to be clear, I’m not talking about a monumental overthrow of issue that will make headlines for a news cycle.
I’m not disputing the perspective of faith as an instrument of public policy, nor supporting it. Not in this piece, if I were to take a position. I merely point out the differences of how God-speak exists today to further clarify what I mean — to distance myself from the lunacy bend as I prepare a journey and extend an invitation to join me.
The journey is simple. It’s a reading journey. One day at a time. There will be bumps and detours en route, but I guess that’s part of the fun. Kinda like those college road trips. “On the Road” with Jack Kerouac. Driving across “Route 66” on TV in a blue Corvette.
The road map here is just the Verse of the Day. I get one in my box each morning from You Version, one of the Bible apps I employ. My goal — the POINT — is to reflect, mediate and journal on how God speaks to me through that verse. That’s all. That’s our journey.
I have no idea what the verses are until I see them. I’ve done this intermittently for years…the journaling from Scriptures. The process has yielded personal thoughts and many scripts I’ve written for Kingdom Impact Theater. Now in my Medicare days, the Scriptures inspire me differently. “Speak” to me differently; particularly in light of the daily events around us. Cultural and, yes, political.
I think that’s a beauty of reading Scriptures: the assortment of personal understandings at various points of our lives. On one level, we read them for knowledge. On another level, for guidance. There’s also a dangerous level in which some read Scriptures in order to bully…to manipulate an agenda. Yet, the bully pulpit can be defused and redirected by maturity — maturity through life experience, or through an equally forceful intervention by a more insightful, direct colleague who invokes the admonitions of Jesus and Peter and the litmus test of John.
- “Watch out for false prophets,” said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Read more on false prophets and false disciples).
- “There will be false teachers among you,” the apostle Peter is said to have written to first century churches (Read more in context).
- “Dear friends,” the apostle John wrote to other establishing churches, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” (Read more in context).
Such centuries-old statements are cannons and whispers in my head today whether I’m reading Scripture, hearing a sermon, or watching a news interview with an evangelical-du-jour. I am intrigued in such moments when a passage or verse comes to mind that, as one-time talk show host Arsenio Hall would say, “Makes me say, ‘Hmmm.’ ” I think that’s when God’s talking, and, yes, I find that fascinating. And scary. And fun.
So, my desire to read them — and sit through sermons live or revisit online — has taken a new purpose. Perhaps like me, you have endeavored to begin a new year determined to read all 66 books of the Bible in 365 days, and the 24-hour grace of a leap year. Perhaps, like me, you’ve achieved the task; or perhaps, unlike me, you’ve read the Scriptures in their entirety numerous times, and have already begun such a journey. You’ve perhaps even made a point about sharing how many times, or how many Bible translations you’ve completely read through. I applaud your discipline, and ask: “How often in reading have you had that Aresenio Hall Moment of “Hmmm?” How often has your read of Scriptures been fun? Breathtaking like a rollercoaster ride? Skydive free fall? Mental white water rafting?
Daft, you say? Maybe. But when I read the verse today — at the start of a new year, “teach us to number our days;” and I am more certain that Moses’ prayer to God is also God’s voice to me saying “Don’t waste any more time.”
It’s the opposite voice of when I would start the day reading my horoscope and hoping something good would happen or fretting about the thing to watch out for.
I am also calmed and bemused by the Proverb posted on January 1 — “In their hearts humans plan their course, but The Lord establishes their steps.” — in contrast to the rituals surrounding resolutions, annual goal-planning, or good luck dietary meals designed to make the next 365 days go better than good riddance to the last 12 months.
At the same time, the verses leave me humbled in light of the year-end posts of dear friends who recount their horrible personal challenges of the year — be they severe illness, multiple deaths of close friends and family, or just the inability to make ends meet. In each case, no doubt, the last year began as this — with good riddance and hope in their hearts.
In most of the cases of my friends who have suffered, most of them also recognized their achievements in spite of the losses. In deed, several may say had it not been for the losses, the impact of their achievements would have been less…or not at all.
So, collectively, these events — plus the challenges in our own household — gave pause in the predawn quiet of this day when verse 12 came into my reading, and spawned not just a momentary read, but a thirst for more. So I read the entirety of Psalm 90 which speaks of mortality, promised years, and God’s attributes — both His anger and His compassion.
Moses, the author of the Psalm, concludes his conversation with this request:
“May the favor of the Lord Our God rest on us — establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”Psalm 90:17
The lesson of numbering my days and establishing my work speak loudly as a freelance artist, especially since they were the first words I saw upon awakening the morning after a two-month assignment ended the night before. Actors or jazz musicians will tell you that often the power of a selection is less the script or notes on the staff, but the offbeat. What’s spoken behind the line; the subtext.
So, the voice of God that also speaks through His creation (nature), His people (friends and enemies as well as clergy), His Spirit (“Hmmmmm”) as well as the printed text tells, me this:
“Stop saying, ‘I don’t have enough time,’ or, ‘I wish I wish I had 28 hours,’ or, ‘I’ll get to it,’ or, ‘There aren’t enough hours in the day.’ Stop saying that, if you say you believe in me.”
Numbering my days is God telling me, “Look, you choose to believe me and in me. So since you do, and you know I am creator, use the 24 hours I’ve given you as best you can. Given all the things you have to do or wish to do, which is the best to do today: Binge watch, or read? Social media rant, or conversation? Procrastinate, or create? Your choice. Just realize, the days, like the hairs on your head, are Numbered. And you are bald.”
Thus sayeth The Lord.