My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,
They come to an end as the thread runs out. —Job 7:6 NEB
As I look back on my 83 years of life I'm impressed by the swiftness with which these years have flitted by. It seems but yesterday that I was young and now I am old.
Sages have described our life-span as a shadow, a dream, a moving mist, a spray of flowers that promptly withers, an m-dash between the birth and death dates on our gravestones. a bird in flight—“as though a sparrow flew swiftly through the hall, coming in by one door and out by the other" (the Venerable Bede). Job states the truth baldly: "Life is short and full of trouble" (14:1). (A friend of mine adds, “You have to eat to keep up your strength.”)
It’s not the troubles of life that concern me, however; it's the thought that my life will be finished before I am. So many things on my bucket list are yet uncompleted, so many projects undone. As Job put it, the thread will run out before the fabric I’m weaving is done.
There's a bit of a problem with the text because no one knows the meaning of the word with which Job ends his comparison. Parallelism suggests that the word usually translated "without hope" is part of the illustration taken from weaving. Hence the New English Bible translates, ‘My days … come to an end as the thread runs out.” Peterson paraphrases, "My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life!" (Job 7:6 The Message).
Indeed. So many trout streams I’ve scouted that Ill never fish. So many trails I’ve traced on contour maps that I’ll never walk. So many projects that Carolyn and I have dreamed about that we’ll never complete. So much to do; so little time to do it.
But I have achieved the one thing for which I was created, the thing without which nothing else matters: I have come to know and believe the love that God has for me (1 John 4:16).
Poet Henry Vaughn writes,
Thou art a toilsome mole, or less;
A moving mist;
But life is what none can express:
A quickness which my God hath kissed.