Life is a Vapor

Have you ever spent time in a graveyard? It can be sort of an uncomfortable, even awkward place to be.  Maybe someone you know has passed away, and you’ve looked around while you were there. Have you ever noticed how beautiful they are? Florally painted with vivid colors, it’s a visual spectacle. There are few places in our built-environment that our attention to landscape detail is any higher, but somehow death and beauty are rendered incompatible in my mind...

The silence is something that always stands out loudly when I’m there.  It feels like gravity pulls you down a little more on the ground you walk, as you become more consciously aware of your footsteps walking though the rows of stones. The burden of those left behind begins to weigh on you as you read the names etched into the granite and fieldstone, realizing, ‘this is all that is left of someone’.  A whole life culminated to just a few words written on a rock above where your body will lay to rest for eternity.  Doesn’t it all seem so peculiar, so unnatural?

When I last visited a graveyard, we laid my uncle to rest.  While standing there with my family, honoring him, I began to look beyond his grave at the sea of orderly stones that appeared to extend to the horizon.  My mind began to wonder… What ideas were never expressed?  What inventions were never created? What dreams were never fulfilled?  So many people run out of time when they least expect it. 

Time, in this life, is a constraint that we are bound to.  Something that we cannot escape.  You are given a set amount only known by God.  How often do you neglect the valuable time that was given to you?  I bet if you could ask someone under some of those stones, they would tell you to take advantage of each and every moment you have.  Don’t let a moment go to waste.

James 4:13-14

13 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.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Isn’t it amazing how a book several thousands of years old can be so relevant?  How many of us neglect the time we are given, while we carry on trying to maximize our money and things?  I believe that its something called the human condition.  An inherent sinful nature that seems to constantly put ourselves first. 

Consider an hour glass.  Every grain of sand that passes thought the throat of the hour glass represents the current moment.  Above the throat, the sand moves so slowly you can’t even see it with the naked eye.  Once the sand hits the bottom, it settles and never moves again until flipped.  Unfortunately, in this life, we don’t get a second flip.  The only thing that we have is the single grain of sand that is passing though the throat of the glass. We don’t know how much more sand will pass through.  At any given moment, the last grain could slip away without warning.  Each drop of sand will either turn into regret or satisfaction.  We build this mound of sand at the bottom of the hour glass that is full of the ‘sum of every high and every low’ as Lauren Daigle would put it. 

Now that I’ve brought attention to the importance of every moment we have, what do we do with it? 

1. ‘Be still’

How about that for maximizing your time…. Be still.

Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God”.  Understand that what is given to you was defined by a god who does not operate in the same parameters that we do.  While he created time, he is in no way confined to this constraint. 

2Peter 3:8 says “With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day.”

Life is full of movement.  Movement isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it can be exhausting.  In some ways it can be paralyzing.  Sometimes we need to just ‘be still’, and know that he is God and he is in control. And even more importantly, understanding that we are not in control can be just as much of a relief.

2. Live in accordance to His will.

What is His will for you?  Scripture has a lot to say about God’s will, but none more prominent than what Jesus says in Mathew 22:37.  The disciples ask him what commandment is the greatest, and Jesus replies with something that was never listed…

Mathew 22:36-40

“Love your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  This is the greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

Love God, Love people.  Jesus has a way of simplifying things for us.  We have an incredibly difficult long list of do’s and don’ts  called the law, and for hundreds of years people have debated, argued, and even fought wars all because the list was too ‘complicated’.  Jesus simply tells us how to ‘Love God, Love people’.  Everything else fits inside of that.

Every moment that goes by has eternal implications.  From the words of Jesus, we must take the focus away from ourselves, and place it towards God and to our neighbor. 

When was the last time you missed an opportunity to really love your neighbor?  To show them you care, and that God cares.  You will never have that moment back, as that grain of sand lays buried at the bottom of the hour glass. 

It’s one thing to love your neighbor, but in Luke 6, we are also directed to love our enemies.  If you want to maximize your moment, we must do things like, ‘bless those who curse us’, and ‘pray for those who mistreat us’.

3. Pray that God directs your steps!

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Psalms 37:23

The steps of a man are established by the lord when he delights in his way.

In other words, don’t worry too much about the future or the past.  Pray that god directs you thought each moment you can control

Don’t look back!

Isaiah 43:18

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! 

Don’t look Forward!

Mathew 6:34

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

If you’ve made it thought this reading to this point, you’ve taken about 10 minutes (or 20 minutes if you read like me).  My prayer is that this somehow affects your moments going forward.

Now Go!

Jared White