Counting Time

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”   Psalm 90:12

Reiwa era

On May 1st of this year, one era ended in Japan and a new one began, now referred to as the Reiwa Era. This major change was precipitated by the abdication of the elderly Emperor Akihito, who was succeeded by his son Naruhito, to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne. On that day, Naruhito became the 126th emperor of Japan, and in keeping with several hundred years of tradition, the ceremony was bound by ancient protocols that have guided the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world, supposedly dating back to 660 BC.

This transfer in leadership ushered in a new era now known as Reiwa (令和), roughly translated as “beautiful harmony.” There are actually five eras in modern Japanese history known as Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), Showa (1926-1989), Heisei (1989-2019) and the newly established Reiwa Era (2019-?). This change in eras also impacts how time is measured in Japan. For example, instead of the Gregorian calendar year of 2019, we are now in Reiwa Year 1. However, when it comes to counting months and days, nothing has changed, which makes things a bit confusing for those unaccustomed to the Japanese dating system. Following this system, I was born in Showa 28, November 2nd in case you were curious about my age! The order of the dating system also begins with the year, followed by the month and then the day. This traditional pattern for marking the passing of years is still meticulously maintained by city and government offices in their record keeping, but it is steadily falling out of practice among the general population.

Calculating the passage of time is important for many reasons, but in Psalm 90, Moses prayed for wisdom in how to count days, not years. Since we are all bound by time and its demands upon our lives, it is imperative to reflect upon its daily impact and how this ties into God’s eternal purposes for us. After all, God alone stands apart from time, where a thousand years are like a day to Him, according to verse four of the same Psalm. Therefore, like Moses, we should seek God’s assistance in numbering our days with the intent of making each one count for eternity, because faithfulness is rooted in the daily choices we make. To make the right choices, we need God’s timeless and infallible perspective. He alone can teach us to count correctly.

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