Monday, March 20, 2006

Word One: Numbered

King Belshazzar's party came to an abrupt halt when a mysterious hand appeared and wrote three words on the wall. No one could figure out what they meant until the Queen remembered Daniel and his ability to solve problems like this. Daniel told the king the meaning of the three words, and each word punctures an illusion that propped up the life of King Belshazzar.

The first word was "mene", which means "numbered".

Many of us, like King Belshazzar, live with the illusion that our life is our life. My life belongs to me, and I am only accountable to myself for what I do with it.

God comes to the king and says, "I've numbered your days, Belshazzar. I've already decided how many days to give you. Your life is not just yours; it is on loan from me. You are where you are because of me; you have what you have because I gave it to you. I created you and gifted you and presented you with opportunities to do things in the brief time you have on this earth. And, in the end, you will be held accountable to me."

When Daniel walked into the room, he saw the gold and silver goblets that had been taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. These were sacred objects reserved for use in the worship of God. Obviously, he would have been horrified to see them used in such profane ways.

But the most sacred object the king was perverting was his life. God sees each of us as a golden vessel set apart for his purposes. When we spend our life only on ourselves -- gratifying our every appetite and never being used in service to others -- God sees us the way Daniel saw those objects that day: profaned.

You've been given one life, and one day you'll stand before your Maker and give an account for what you did with it. And God knows when that day will be. Do you?

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).