The Watchers in the Room

The Watchers in the Room

I watch him as he slowly guides the walker, feet shuffling behind–or is the walker guiding him? He moves so slowly it is hard to tell, they seem joined as one. His head is bowed without a trace of smile or joy. A face that once held youth, but now bears only wrinkles and pain.

What occupies his thoughts, his heart?

His carriage bears defeat, as he makes his way toward the glass-encased receptionist. The waiting room speaks more of death than life. Cancer patients in long rows of chairs, all anxiously waiting to hear their name called from an opened door. Lifting a weary gaze toward this newest comer shuffling on his way passed their empty stares.

How many? How many in this long room of watchers have considered the brevity of their days? How many have wisely numbered their days or taken account of that which holds eternal reward?

What does their ledger bear?

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:10, 12)

To come to the end of one’s days with nothing to give. To have a ledger empty of any eternal impact, that would be worse than surrendering to the cancer that eats away at all hope.

She interrupts my thoughts as she pauses in front of me. A frail little thing, probably long past eighty decades or so. On one hand she clasps tight her cane, pausing long enough to place her other hand around her companion’s arm. But as I glance over, her face breaks into a broad smile that lights the room. Her physical stature is feeble, but this one, she bears herself courageously and looks closer to life than death, although she can barely navigate across the room.

This one. I think she knows. I think, of all the watchers in the room, she may be one who knows the secret of losing it all, but gaining more. Letting go of here and living in eternity now. Her smile spoke of one who is familiar with numbering her days and taking account. I don’t know. But her smile spoke of hope. And hope here comes in small supply.

But hope is held by those who know this is only the seen—and we live for the unseen. 

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–19)

Let us number our days. Let us live for the unseen. May we exit this realm with our ledger filled with glorious weight for the eternal impact we’ve made.

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/


  1. Beautifully written, Kimberly.

    “Teach us to number our days” hit me so strongly a few months ago. I wrote down that verse and have it hanging near my toothbrush. Sounds weird, but it’s a perfect way for me to start my day. Life flies by too quickly. I don’t want to waste a single day.

    Thank you!

    • Posted by Kimberly Wagner

      Doesn’t sound weird at all, in fact it’s wisdom to start your day that way! I post Scriptures next to my toothbrush, too 🙂


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