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Moses and "Meatballs"

Bill Murray stars in Meatballs

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

A number of years ago I ran across today’s text while doing some devotional reading in the psalms. The first thing that struck me about the verse was that it was written by Moses. Psalm 90 is the only psalm written by Moses that is contained in the Bible. I paid extra attention to the message, given the stature of the messenger.

While thinking about how to communicate the truth of the text to our congregation I was reminded about one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies. The movie was called “Meatballs” and it starred Bill Murray as the head counselor at a summer camp that he describes as the “best camping experience available in the price range.” Let’s just say that the kids who come to Camp North Star are there because their parents can’t afford to send them anywhere else.

At a critical point in the movie, the campers of North Star have just been handed their lunch in a competition with the campers from Camp Mohawk across the lake. Mohawk is a camp where no expense has been spared by the parents of the campers to send them to the most exclusive camp around. As a group of dejected campers from North Star gather around the fireplace between the two days of competition, Bill Murray gives one of the most amazing speeches in the history of cinema. You must rent the film just to see this scene! You can read the dialogue at this link, but let me just point out that the message he delivers is that some things “just don’t matter.”

This is what Moses is saying in today's text. In light of the brevity of life, wisdom is being able to discern between those things that just don’t matter, and those that really do. One of the classic commentators on the passage translates the text: “Hourly contemplate the fleeting character and brevity of our lifetime.”

I find that many of the things I stress about “just don’t matter”. I also find that my preoccupation and investment in the things that just don’t matter often keep me from investing my time and energy in the things that really do matter. Life is short. That is part of what the text implies. The more “mature” we become, the faster time goes by. I pray today that for you and I, we will be aware of the short time we have this side of eternity and spend more time on the things that really do count.

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