“Come now, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town
and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.””
As I read through this verse, I’m always so abruptly reminded of what my life really is.
I live as if people knowing my name and singing my songs is what matters. Like getting married and having a family is what matters. Or like having nice things and financial security is what matters. Yet, I don’t have the slightest clue what tomorrow will bring. Add to that, I have absolutely no control over what tomorrow will bring. James 1 has been a wake-up call for me:
“Like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”
If I’m in this thing called “life” for myself, then all that I counted as gain here, will be but loss when I die. I am only “a flower of the grass” and “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”.
I find myself bucking up against this, not wanting it to be reality, but as I look around the world, I see it painted true everywhere. I remember the day Steve Jobs passed away. I grieved his life, because though he built much, it was merely a “flower of the grass” that James speaks of in James 1. It’s all gone for him, and though we still enjoy his work, it will fade away sooner than we like to think.
So, what do I make of all this?
Is all of life for nothing?
Yes, but for one exception.
Because of Jesus, every moment we live and breathe in carries an eternal value.
If I live for myself and my glory, it’s gone when the wind decides to blow. But if I live for Christ, every moment resounds forever in the halls of heaven. Living for Christ is the only kind of living in the true sense, that there is. For to live for myself is but mere vanity, dust returning unto dust.
Poet and lifelong missionary C.T. Studd says it this way:
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
No matter how hard we fight, we can’t step beyond the inescapable reality that we, in and of ourselves, will come to an end. Wholly true: “only what’s done for Christ will last.”
May He open our hearts to this.
For if in our breathing in and living out, we begin to embrace this truth, we’ll find ourselves rushed into the greenest fields of freedom. We’ll find He’s put a new rhythm into our beating chests. We’re awake again. Putting our feet on the floor, morning by morning with purpose now; the highest calling. We’re raising our glasses and breathing deeply, exhaling songs solely for His glory. Each redeemed moment, we come a little closer to the absolute meaning of our lives: “All glory be to Christ”.
May we do everything unto Him.