Friday, January 22, 2021

Vapor

Have you thought of yourself as a vapor or mist? Well, that is what we are as Scripture and therefore God tells us humans. You may say that you have plenty of time and plans for the future. Really?

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil”  (James 4:13-16). Other translations say, mist, morning fog, wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. That’s life for us. It is not certain or long and it can and will disappear in an instant. It will burn off and be gone forever. Now this is an encouraging view of life isn’t it? Well, it is God’s view. Other Bible passages elucidate the idea saying that life is a “passing breeze” (Psalm 78:38). How about Job 7:7 saying that “life is but a breath.”  This might frighten or even anger you because of all the plans you have made and things you need or must do. But take stock, you are not in control of your life. It is God who rules and reigns and has ordained all your days as Psalm 139:16 of David portrays. God is involved in all details of our lives even though we have free will to go where and do what we want. Therein lies the rub.

Yes, God knows all from beginning to end, yet we can do whatever we want, whether it’s good for us or not. We can disobey God and be outside His will for us our whole life, but what will that do for us?  David the “man after God’s own heart,” realized that he had sinned and did what he wanted. But he was found out and there were severe consequences to his actions. God is not a cosmic killjoy, but a good and merciful Father who loves us even in our sin. Yet all actions will be judged. God is slow to anger and ready to forgive if we figure out that we are not here on earth for ourselves, but to serve God and love one another.

How far out do you plan? I have become more and more quizzical about the Japanese 150 year plans. I once was a strategic planning consultant for hospitals and health systems around the country. We developed missions and visions and then operating goals and plans stretching out for five years. It is a good exercise as long as you realize that God is in charge of the steps. “To a man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue” (Proverbs 16:1). Yes, we can plan, but Solomon goes on to say, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). This makes it sound like it is useless to plan, that life is fateful or karma. No, not at all. Proverbs also tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). If you want to be safe or on the right path follow the Lord or as Proverbs 3:5-6 delineates, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Different versions say that He (God) will make your paths straight and guide you if you listen to His voice and don’t assume you know everything. The New Living Translation says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”  Frankly speaking, I am encouraged by this recognition and actually, my experience has proven Him out.

You might say as the poem written by William Earnest Henley in 1875, Invictus,
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul hel
This is the m and sail into

This is the mantra of many today,  "no one is going to tell me what to do." Authority is anathema to them and they will chart their own course. “Good luck with that,” as the world also says. God says, My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel” (Proverbs 5:1). Many times in Scripture God says to listen to Him and He will give you wise counsel. God tells us His will “Through prayer, His word, other godly people and circumstances,” states author, pastor, Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God. There is great truth to that. There is absolute truth and it is in God and His word, the Bible. Read, study, meditate on it and follow what it says. It is the way, the life and truth to those who find it (John 14:6 paraphrase).  So, perhaps you don’t believe this like most of the world today. Interestingly, our country was founded upon this word and our first president said, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” He prayed continually and found strength in God. It is no random act that our money says, “In God We Trust.”  Those who want to take it away want to captain their own ship and be in control of their own destiny. This increasingly loud group that is growing is wrong. Sorry, there is truth and not all ideas are equally valid.
"So make the most of every opportunity, full of grace and seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6).

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