"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." ~ Psalm 90:12.
One thing Zambians are very poor at is keeping time. The average meeting in Zambia will start 30 minutes to an hour late. As far as I know, only exams start on time. It is actually a chronic problem. The reason why Zambians are poor with time is simply because they, or should I say 'we', do not value time. And the reason for that is we think we have a lot of it.
Anything that you have in excess will not be valued. If you have plenty of money, generally, you will be reckless with it. A child with plenty of sweets will not keep track of (or as the bible passage above puts it, 'number') them. As long as you think you have a lot of something, you will not value it. After all, there's plenty of it.
If a man is told that at this very moment tomorrow he will die i.e. He will die in exactly 24 hours, he will 'number' his hours. He won't be reckless with his time, he will put every minute to good use. Why? He no longer has 'all the time in the world'.
That phrase, "All the time in the world", is actually one of the greatest lies on the earth as far as time is concerned. In fact, the bible is quite clear about how little time any given person has:
Job 7:7~ Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
Psalm 144:4~ Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.
Proverbs 27:1~ Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
James 4:14~ yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
There are a few more verse on top of these that hammer the same nail. Life is brief. The one thing that we do not have is time.
Ask any parent who's child has gone off to college or gotten married, they'll tell you. "It feels like yesterday when he/she was just a little baby."
One of the principles that can help with ones attitude towards time is to realize what a great resource time is. Isn't it amazing that two men will be given the same amount of time and yet one will achieve up to five times more than the other? Why? Because for the one, time is something that he uses to the full while for the other time is meant to be 'passed'. Isn't it amazing that one 21 old takes the gold medal at the Olympics in one of the swimming competitions while millions of others hold no achievement that can compare even slightly? They both had exactly the same amount of time only that one maximized on the resource.
The people most blessed with the resource of time are young people. If there is one resource at the disposal of youths, it is time. Unfortunately, many squander away their youth doing nothing productive and at the end of their teen years discover, they don't really have anything to point to as an achievement. Some, however, do use their time wisely. Those are the young people who turn into the great sports men and women of our world, the great men and women of wealth, the great minds of the day and so on. People who picked up interests or recognized certain abilities in themselves and poured themselves wholly into them. They would never be where they are today if they never recognized the great resource of time that was at their disposal and used it to the full.
A second principle that can help improve one's attitude towards time is simply to take seriously the brevity of life. To realize that they really don't have all the time in the world. When you realize how brief life is and that you are not guaranteed tomorrow, you will make the most of your time and therefore gain a heart of wisdom.
That's what Psalm 90:12 is all about. When we number our days which simply means valuing our days, we will make the most of each day and therefore be wiser men and women.
Notice however, that Moses, the writer of these words, asks the Lord to teach him. We would do well to make a similar request to our God.