Psalm 90:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.
One thing most people desire is to live a life of significance. Athletes probably exemplify this more than most. Often, they desire to leave their mark in their sport, perhaps at their high school, their university or college, or perhaps even for their country.
Most schools keep records and honor their top athletes. As a child I grew up with the local high school in my backyard. I would play on the fields and courts, and I would sometimes sneak into the school and walk the hallway outside the gymnasium to look at all the “Athletes of the Year”, an honor awarded to the top athlete in the school each year (male and female). The wall was quite full as the school had been around for many decades. I decided as a young child that one day my picture would hang on that wall. Many years later, that dream came true, and my picture was hung on that same wall (incidentally, my wife’s picture hangs beside mine as she was the female Athlete of the Year the following year). For both my wife and me, this was a significant achievement and a significant honor, but in the end what is it really worth?
Psalm 90, written by Moses, appears to be written with a heavy heart. Most scholars believe Moses wrote it near the end of 40 years of wilderness wandering and thus it reflects his recognition of God’s judgment over the Jews for their disobedience. But I believe there is significant hope in this Psalm. Verse 17 quoted above appears to be a recognition by Moses that anything we pursue on our own is simply futile; we need God to establish what we put our hands to. What is key however is that God’s work clearly involves us. God establishes “the work of our hands”. While God didn’t and doesn’t need man to do anything, he decided to establish a world in which we are critical participants, and he chooses to involve us in what he is doing.
True significance does not come from awards and accolades, it comes from doing the will of our Father in heaven. Psalm 90:12 instructs us to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. The older you get, the more you realize how quickly life passes by. A wise person recognizes this and chooses to use every day to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
Again, while the awards were nice, and while we put much energy and effort into our athletics, my wife and I have invested far more into our children and into other people. We have asked God to “establish the works of our hands” and God has honored this prayer and established our family and many around us. This is something significant because it is more than simply an individual pursuit; it is more than what Paul calls running after “a perishable wreath” (1 Corinthians 9:25). Such investments make generational and exponential differences for His kingdom.
This is not to say that God has not called you to compete at the highest level of sport, but it will always be to fulfill much greater purposes than achieving fame or fortune. God will want to use any of your success to point to Jesus and to further his kingdom. So whatever your calling is, ask God to establish the works of your hands. Work with excellence as you work for the Lord, and then allow God to do the rest.