“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
James 4:14b NKJV
Wednesday’s headline read, “Stabbing Spree in Southern California Leaves 4 Dead and 2 Hurt.” This according to TIME Magazine online, in addition to and less than a week after the carnage in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which had already taken 31 lives. These horrific occurrences remind us of something we don’t like to think about, namely the brevity and fragility of life. In a day when investment firms are convincing us to sock away funds in our working years sufficient to support us into our late 70s, 80s, and even 90s, these savage events serve to jar us into a reality embraced by our forbears.
In 18th century New England, people rarely lived through their forties. So, it was deemed essential that young people be reminded of the brevity of life and the importance of living the years God gave them for His honor and glory. The Puritans used to configure the benches in their meetinghouses so that they faced the windows across the length of the buildings, which looked out on their cemeteries. We live in denial of death, even today, but for tragic events like those of this past week. We don’t want to think about our mortality. Isn’t it time we got a grip, and faced reality. Even a lifespan of 60, 70, 80, or 90 years is but a vapor. The wicked in the world escape nothing, nor the righteous. Death is 100% certain for everyone. The only treasure that really lasts and earns interest in life is what we invest for God’s kingdom. Where is your focus? Where is mine?
I am minded of words by C.T. Studd, the great missionary pioneer and statesman of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”