Fall is here.
Pumpkins, cider, donuts, autumnal parties, and college football. In many ways, it’s a great season.
Strangely though, it’s also a time of death. Leaves fall dead to the ground. They crunch beneath our feet, calling out from the dead. Those living in Northern climates understand this transformation. They understand that one morning they will walk outside and see their breath (if they haven’t already).
Early this morning, as I began my commute to work, I noticed the fog coming out of my nose as I exhaled.
I also noticed how quickly it vanished.
Our lives are like that, too.
It’s been just over a week since a young life vanished. A dear friend was tragically killed when a motorcycle struck her as she crossed the street. She was young, talented, beautiful, and strong. But, she was also frail. Her life was, indeed, a vapor. The fog (i.e., her life) vanished in a moment.
James provides certain helpful insights into this tragedy, namely the brevity and frailty of life. To be sure, James is frustrated with the arrogant attitudes demonstrated by his hearers and readers, but this is not my point here. My point is simply that life is brief and frail. It can, and has, been snuffed out in a moment.
James 4:14-15 employs the imagery of a vapor to describe our lives. What he means by this, at least in part, is that our lives are both brief and frail. His exhortation is to not live as though you are sovereign over your own existence, for, ultimately, your existence rests in the hands of a mightier King.
So, the next time you step outside and it’s cold enough to see the fog from your breath, exhale and watch how quickly it vanishes. It appears only for a brief moment and then disappears. Exhale again and wave your hand through the fog. Notice how easily it dissipates.
Our lives are like that.
Brief and frail.
Thankfully, in this situation, we are able to rejoice (in small measure through the tears) because we know the eternal destination of the departed. And yet, I can’t help but think that if she was here she would urge those of us still living to embrace what James was urging his audience to heed. Your life is brief (despite how long you think it will last); your life is frail (despite how strong you think you are); and Jesus is sovereign King over your existence.