When you were growing up, did anyone ever ask you “what’re you going to do with your life?” At the time, it seemed important, vital and necessary even, to have your life mapped out in minute details. You were going to be in this industry sector with this amount of yearly income and have already exceeded your wildest dreams in promotions, you were going to rack up this accomplishment and that achievement, and all before the age of 30. I remember being asked that question routinely in school, sometimes as an assignment, even in my elementary years. It seems to be a rite of passage in some ways with our culture. But is that really the best thing for us?
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14
Right out of the gate, let me say that this isn’t about cutting dreams short or never imagining the future. There’s something whimsical and exciting about considering what lays over the horizon and what opportunities exist. But, a passage like this should cause pause and reflection; James’s words, written to people who were planning on ways to enrich themselves and profit handsomely, should cause some serious heart checks for us and our attitudes. How often have we treaded into the territory where our dreams and aspirations, coached in wonderful Christian language, were really thinly veiled attempts at worldly aspirations?
Our life is a mist, we are only on this earth for a very short time. Though we may live for eighty or ninety or even a hundred years, those years pale in comparison to eternity and to our God who transcends time. Our lives are essentially sneezes, hanging around just briefly before they disappear. It can seem pretty depressing to say that but it really isn’t. Why? Because Scripture points us to a better way of living. Scripture points us away from worldly ambition and attitudes and towards an everlasting way of life. From dreams and aspirations that will fall short and fade to an everlasting kingdom that will never falter.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
We’re called to live in alignment to the Lord’s will. We’re called to live out a life that throws off selfish ambition and wisdom from below and bitter envy (see James 3) and strives to align with God’s will and Kingdom. We’re called, no matter how little time we may have, to invest in the things that matter most, in the things of eternity. God has prepared us for such a time as this. In the midst of a pandemic that knows no borders, the truth of James’s words reminds us that life is short and fleeting; that the life that lasts will be the one that follows God’s will (James 4:15-16). That for those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, the physical life may be short but they’re investing for eternity, for the full and abundant life that Jesus promises. Choose today, while it is still called today, to live for the Kingdom. Choose today to pursue love and holiness and purity and kindness. Choose today to love God and love others well. Choose today, not what steps you will take in the next few months or years or how you plan to spend retirement but in how you will live for the Lord. Our lives are a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. But the life that is held fast in the Lord is one that will invest in the eternal Kingdom.