Life is Vapor: Finding Consistency in a Fleeting Life

Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you, my dear readers. Whether you are reading this on Facebook or on, I have been praying for you even if I have not written to you. I have been taking it easy this Christmas holiday at home in Toronto, not doing to much or getting too busy, but rather taking time to reflect, recharge, and recuperate from the past three months.  Since I last wrote to you on December 5th, nothing much has changed.  I wish I could tell you that things are much better, but I’ve come to know well that this life of sanctification is quite the process!  I’ve been reading a lot (well, not as much as I should be actually), praying, journaling, and praying.  And in all this, I have been reminded of a simple truth:

13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

17Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

–James 4:13-17, NASB

Life is vapor.

We may be here for a little while, and then we are gone — that is how short life is.  We cannot boast about our plans for our lives, for God only knows what will really happen, and it is God who truly has sovereign control over the direction of our lives.  James’ words are true today as it was two thousand years ago — no one knows what life will be like tomorrow.  As fleeting as human emotions that fluctuate from moment to moment, day to day, so also are the plans we make for our lives.

(I’m not trying to be poetic or romantic about this, I am just reflecting on the text.)

Life is full of change.

We change our address and where we live; we change schools, jobs, churches; we change our haircut, our clothes, our “makeup”.  We might even change who we love in this life, or who we will be with for a large part of our lives.  Because of the futility of fallen human flesh, we are (unfortunately) characterized by change — whether we admit it or not. And too often, this tendency to change inevitably results in sin, unrest; we end up hurting another person, even if unintentionally.

However, the only constant in life is God.

God never changes.
He is constant: the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He is holy and just, gloriously loving, kind and merciful, wrathful yet gracious.  And even when we are not loving or obedient, He in the consistency of His covenantal love never leaves us or forsakes us.

Thankfully, as those who have been made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of His Son, we have been given the ability — the God-given freedom — to go against our genetic predisposition for change.  Because of His indwelling Spirit, we can be more and more constant; by the Holy Spirit we are empowered to love and obey the LORD like never before — just as Christ also loved and obeyed His Father.  By His own initiative and willingness, Christ has chosen to forgive us of all unrighteousness.  And if we want, when we decide to… we can also choose to forgive one another.  I can choose to humble myself and consider others better than myself, to consider their interests before my own.

And all this, we know we should do it.  After all, we are his children — sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father — members of the body of Christ.  To know what you ought to do and then not do it, it is sin. But since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Father in heaven,

have mercy on the misery of this world.
Forgive us for our part in causing the pain of others.
Waken us as never before to the preciousness of your mercy bought by the blood of Christ.
Fix our hopes so fully on the joy of heaven,
that we become the freest of all people on earth.
May our everlasting memories of your grace
make us glad of all you changed
and all you forgave.

We pray this in the strong name
of Jesus Christ our Lord,

(Photo by wvs)

One thought on “Life is Vapor: Finding Consistency in a Fleeting Life

  1. Hi Alex:

    Though our lives are just like vapour our love to you does not change. Trust this love is also from God as we are made in His image: God does not change and so is His love.

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