This week my small group was studying the end of James 4,
Come 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.” Yet 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. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
– James 4.13-17
And while the instruction is a reprimand towards the arrogant who seek to make their success and livelihood here on Earth without considering God and eternity, there is a very real application to all of us in our daily lifestyles and choices. Less than twenty four hours later an accident was reported of a couple with whom I went to seminary. They were on furlough and preparing to go back to Rome for their third term, and a semi truck hit them and killed the wife and mother of three. She was thirty one years old.
Our life is but a vapor.
Whenever someone passes away, it is natural for the community to consider the realities of life and death. And when someone so young is taken, many are left asking the question that we all need to ask before we die: “Why”? What is the meaning of life? What happens next?
Kyra knew the Lord. She understood her sin, she confessed her sin and asked Jesus for forgiveness and found refuge in His righteousness that He provided by living a perfect life on Earth, dying in our place and raising again to conquer death. She and her husband gave their lives in order to go and share this Gospel with the people of Italy. And now she is resting in the presence of Jesus Christ, having begun the rest of eternity which we all aim to find.
While this feels like a tragedy, having been taken at such a young age and leaving her husband and three young children behind, we can take comfort and peace in the fact that she is now with the Lord and that she gave her life to things that will matter in eternity. She invested in the treasures that moth and rust will not destroy.
James teaches us that God is in sovereign control over our lives. He teaches us that every plan we make should be established with the mindset,
“If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
If the Lord wills, we will live. Jesus reprimanded the Hebrew people for the same attitude and used this statement to declare the brevity of life:
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’”
– Luke 12.20
He was using the illustration of a wealthy man who was building barns and storing up treasures for himself. Yet God says, “This very night your soul is required of you”. God allows us to live and takes us when it is His sovereign plan for us to enter into eternity. Some will go when they are four, some when they are twenty four and some when they are ninety four. God is in control of it all.
Therefore, we should be diligent to live unto God and prepare for eternity. Jesus says,
And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
– Luke 12.22-23
He also instructs us,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matt 6.19-21
The meaning of life, the “chief end of man” as catechisms phrase it, is to know God and to enjoy Him forever. Kyra was a beautiful example of this. She knew God, she enjoyed Him, and now she is enjoying Him face to face. She invested in the treasures of eternity and is receiving her reward as we speak. And Jesus taught His disciples,
“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
– Luke 12.25-31
We will probably never know why Kyra’s life was so short here on Earth, but we can be confident that God will take care of Reid, her husband and her children. He has promised to. And He is grieving with them. God is our comforter, and he takes every tear and keeps them.
“You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?”
– Ps 56.8
Perhaps you have recently lost a loved one, and are considering the meaning of life. Perhaps you are exhausted of living for the world and are looking for an eternal purpose. Perhaps you simply are considering what happens after death. God has offered us a hope and a provision for our eternity. Because all of us have sinned, we all deserve an eternity separated from God in Hell. The punishment for any and all sin is eternal death. But God loved us so much that He offered His son as the perfect sacrifice to take our place. Jesus died so that we might be forgiven. He took our punishment, and after three days in the grave He rose to conquer death. If we confess our sins, and proclaim Jesus as Lord over our lives, we can be forgiven and spend eternity with Him.
Meet Jesus today. Live for the things that will matter in eternity. Store up treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy. Because life is a vapor, and we might not be here tomorrow.