This past week the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, was rocked with an explosion that resembled an atomic bomb. Terrifying footage of the event flooded the internet, and viewers watched in horror as the detonation demolished the city. So far 135 are dead with thousands suffering from injuries. The event is being linked to a Russian ship that had been in port for 7 years, filled with ammonium nitrate. In the coming weeks, details will continue to come out, yet it matters little to those suffering the loss of loved ones.
If you watched the first-hand video of this shocking event, it will send chills down your spine. A normal day suddenly rocked by an uncontrollable force. It reminds us of our fragility before forces we can’t predict and are powerless to maintain. It seems all of 2020 is a constant reminder of such.
Yet James told us this long ago:
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 it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. —James 4:13-15
Your life is a mist—a vapor that appears briefly above the boiling pot and then vanishes away. We don’t like to think on the brevity of our life, yet there is great wisdom in doing such.
For one, we are reminded that our present existence is not the final one. This means that we must do what we can with the time we have. The most important decision we make in this life has nothing to do with our job, our money, our health, or even our family—the most important decision we make is whether or not to receive the gospel. All other matters are subservient to this one. As our Lord declared so long ago, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Thinking of our mortality also reminds us that our life is dictated—not by our own will—but by the will of the Lord. James informs us that every day should start with the understanding that all of our plans are dependent upon the plans of God. Make plans, but intentionally say, “If the Lord wills.” Anything else is simply arrogance (v. 16).
Your life will be gone before you know it. You may die at 90 or within the next couple of weeks—only God knows. If you are saved and are living in obedience to God, then you possess the blessed assurance of hope in eternal life. If you haven’t been saved, or are living in disobedience to the gospel, then you should be absolutely terrified. For, while your present life is a vapor, your future life is eternal—one which will be experienced in the unrelenting torment of hell. So, I plead with you as your brother and friend, repent while there is still time. Give your life to Christ in obedience to the gospel; trust in grace while you still can.