“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” — James 4:14
Most of us agree that the older we get the faster time flies. James says our lives are not only exceedingly brief, but exceedingly precarious. He writes, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’” He then expresses the folly in that. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (4:13-14).
What James is saying is that we make our plans as though our lives are never ending and as if we are in charge. The Bible talks quite a bit about the brevity of life. Job 7:7, says, “My life is but a breath.” Psalm 102:3, “My days vanish like smoke.” David gives a remarkably accurate comment on the average lifespan that still exists today. He says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures” (Psalm 90:10).
Nothing wakes us up to what is important in life more than when we are facing death. No one on their deathbed says, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Someone else once said, “If you live each day as if it was your last, one day you will be right.” We are not privy to when that day comes, but the truth is we do not really know how to live well until we know how to face death. C. S. Lewis said we can either ignore death, fear it or desire it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ actually encourages us to desire it, and it is the fool who ignores it. Though we do not usually like to talk about death, we need to be ready for it practically, emotionally and spiritually, and there is no better way than to have the mindset of Paul: “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Until that day comes, how do we live this life? James says, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (4:15). “If it is the Lord’s will” is the key, because the Lord does have a will for our lives. The abbreviation DV is Latin for Deo Volente, which means “God willing.” This avoids the folly of thinking we can create our own destinies and are somehow invincible. As Christians, our lives have been surrendered to Jesus Christ, and whether we live to be 20, 40, 70 or 90 years of age is not going to make a difference when we arrive in heaven. Our lives belong to Jesus. We are in His hands and His will prevails.
Prayer: Lord, I know our lives on earth would not make sense were it not for the promise of an everlasting life with You. Help me to live this life with eternity in mind. Thank You, Lord.