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. - James 4:13-14 (ESV)
On August 9 my grandmother died. On September 18 I learned that my other grandmother had gone in the hospital for the second time that I can remember in my lifetime. On September 26 the mother of my Uncle Rich died. She fell down the stairs a few days ago, and suffered serious head trauma. Although she was old, this was still a sudden event and very traumatic and shocking for the family.
Today I visited an 11 year old girl in the hospital who had an incorrect prescription that was 10x the dosage she should have had. She appears to be improving, but it was still very traumatic for the family and today certainly did not work out like they had originally planned.
A friend of mine was in church with his family and had a seizure, only to discover that he had a brain tumor. Prior to that day he had no inkling that anything was wrong at all. Now this fact dominates their life as they deal with the repurcussions of the tumor and surgery.
I'm beginning to think that James might be on to something here. Our lives are short, and unfortunately for us, we don't know how much time we have. I don't think James is advocating a total lack of planning on our parts, but he is telling us the nature of life. Our lives are a mist, they are fleeting, and we cannot choose when they will end or what life will bring.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them. - Psalms 139:16
It is interesting that James refers to our life as but a mist. A mist is fleeting, but it can have an impact. When I'm standing in line at a theme park, I'm grateful for the mist created by the misters installed for my comfort. When I drive my car I am grateful for the mist of gasoline that explodes forcing the piston up and giving my car power. A mist can have an impact, but only if it is put to proper use. A mist of gasoline in the open air is a health hazard. In an engine it is power.
What kind of mist are you?