I remember the feeling of astonishment that welled within me the first time I saw him do it. It was shortly after we married, nine years ago. Still to this day it astounds me, every time my husband places the backside of a frame to the wall, holds it at arm’s length, tilts his head this way then that, then pounds in the nail. I stand back in awe watching this, a perfectly straight hanging, every single time.
I, on the other hand, have left a history of pen marks and nail holes across seven different homes since we married. I have finally learned to wait until he arrives home if I need something to be hung.
My husband is a craftsman. A man of the trades stretching back into his childhood, building homes next to his father. This is why it didn’t surprise me one day when I asked him out of the blue, “Do you know what a handbreadth is?”. He held up the palm of his right hand, and traced an invisible line across the width of it with his finger.
I had come across the term nestled into the Psalms:
“Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.” Psalm 39:4-5, KJV
The word sent me digging. If this is what my life is measured up to, what does it mean? A handbreadth, as it turns out, is a linear measurement equaling two and a half to four inches long. We are living a four-inch-long life.
The God of the universe who is unconstrained by time has placed us into this blip of days, a grain of sand tumbling through a glass timer, and He has called us to make it matter.
Psalm 103:15 begins to paint this same grim picture. “As for man, his days are like grass; Here today, gone tomorrow.” Yet David writes on, and in his words, we see the purpose for our four-inch-long-lives: “As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.”
So she flourishes.
When I hold up my hand I am reminded of how fleeting my days truly are. Yet I also see in those few inches that God doesn’t mean for this knowledge to weigh us down or leave us discouraged. Our God is a god of hope. His aim is not that we walk away feeling our lives don’t matter. He wants us to realize just how much every single day does matter.
Will I flourish today in the way I respond to my husband, or in the words that I speak to my children, or in the community I am building with friends? Will what I give my time to today send ripples into eternity?
We cannot wait until tomorrow to flourish. God makes it clear, today is what we have for certain. After all, tomorrow does not build a legacy. Today does.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
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