You have made my days a mere handbreadth;

the span of my years is as nothing before you.

Each man’s (or womans’s) life is but a breath.         Selah

Psalm 39:5 (NIV, 1984)

If you have spent much time reading the Psalms, you have noted at the end of several stanzas you will see the word “Selah.” The term is important not for what it means but for what it instructs the reader, or in the context of Old Testament worship, the singer, to do. It commands a moment of pause, to take a literal breath, and reflect upon the weight of what has just been read or sung. How can we possibly consider the brevity of our life without pausing to understand that God has not promised any particular length of time on this earth—primarily because He is far more interested in the quality of our days rather than the quantity of them.

Had my father been blessed with an extraordinarily healthy life, he would have been 104 today. However, his chronic hypertension and undiagnosed PTSD that he brought home with him from the Battle of the Bulge eventually led to a series of strokes in his early 50s. I recently viewed some old photos from his birthday some five years before he passed away. He looked so old, yet in those pictures, he was about five years younger than I am today. I promise—I don’t know where the years went.

Don’t bother doing the math—here’s my point. My dad and I did not have the same experiences in life. In so many ways, his life of sacrifice made it possible for me to live and learn the things I have learned and be blessed with the things I have. I have watched that “breath” to which David referred taken for the first time in the lives of my daughters and I have also watched them slowly cease in others I have loved. Yet, there in the midst of every situation, there was God—just being God—bringing peace to both ends of life.Before the new wears off 2024, take a breath and consider the quality of our days while they are still yet to be lived!