One theme that appears over and over and over again in the Bible has to do with fading flowers and fading grass.
Moses thought about it. “In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered,” he wrote in Psalm 90. That’s why he asked God to teach him to number his days correctly, because he wanted to remember how brief life was. The flowers of the field had reminded him.
David made the idea a theme in his songs. Jesus used the illustration in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember his reminder to “remember the lilies of the field?” He finished that warning by saying, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
James and Job used the illustration, as did Peter.
Why so many references to fading flowers and withered grass?
Because if you live in the Middle East, you’ll watch it happen right before your eyes.
For a brief period of time, the winter rains give way to the sunshine of spring, and the land of Israel explodes in color. Even in the desert you’ll find remarkable color.
Very quickly, however, the days grow longer, the water dries up and the sun bears down. Under the scorching heat of the sun, it’s little wonder that the desert burns the flowers to a crisp and the grass of the lowlands turns brown.
For a season of time, we flower. For a short time, we live with very little physical pain or limitations. There are no wrinkles, no gray hairs and no pot bellies. For most, arthritis is only a word. Retirement is a concept reserved for grandparents. And death? Don’t even think about it! When life is in full bloom, who worries about tomorrow?
And then, suddenly, it all changes. Under the scorching heat of time, the body ages in some most disagreeable ways and places. Funerals come around more and more often, reminding us that one day, it’ll be our turn. Eventually, that doesn’t even sound like a bad idea.
It would help us all today if we would only remember this lesson. Time is short. If life is in full bloom, enjoy the beauty of it all. If life is difficult, remember the truth of the Bible’s promise. Weren’t we warned, over and over again, that it would be this way?
And with that, remember one more thing. The Bible also promises that this life is not the only life. The promise of God is that there will be much more. In the next life? No more tears, pain or death. No more wrinkles, no more frowning doctors, and no more funerals. And as surely as the promise of a short life is true, this forever-nature of the next life is just as true. Those who trust in God’s promises will see it all. Those who don’t? The lesson is wasted. Life is wasted. And eternity is still waiting.
The choice is ours, and the quickly-fading grass is daily reminder that we need to spend our days — and make our choice about eternity — wisely.
So Moses had it right. Let’s remember to number our days correctly. To grasp how short … and how long … this life of ours is.