"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).
Sometime back a cartoonist pictured a frenzied man shouting: "Stop, world! I want to get off!" Many of us these days have an escapist attitude similar to the man in the cartoon, though most of us don't state it as drastically or dramatically.
The various entanglements of our world worry us, frustrate us, make us wonder about life. We are living in a most exciting, most challenging, most crucial period of history! And it is a period fraught with many entanglements. There are racial entanglements, political corruption, moral breakdown. There are challenges of affluence and poverty.
But what are we doing in this time of crisis? Why are you living now? Will you attribute to the chance of blind fate? Or will you see a modern-day application in the words of Mordecai to Esther? "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:4).
All of us, often in unguarded moments, have visions of greatness for ourselves, of doing something really worthwhile with life, of making a significant contribution to humanity. We have lofty thoughts like Mr. Banks, the father of Jane and Michael, in "Mary Poppins": "A man has dreams of walking with giants; to carve his niche on the edifice of time..."
When the vapor that is your life fades away - as James says it will - what contribution will it have made to the whole of society? You are part of humankind, you must make your life a meaningful contribution to it.
Look at the hours wasted in trivia! We need to pledge ourselves - our brief lives - to the things that count. Jesus proclaimed, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul...mind...strength ... and your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus" ministry was a ministry that pointed people to God the Father and His infinite love, and further showed the way, by his compassionate ministry. His was a ministry that sought to get to the heart of things, showing that the heart of the Christian faith is Love.
With our lives just a "mist" will we put the most into them? Or will we waste them away in those things which are insignificant? Do you remember this nursery rhyme of the cat visiting the queen? "Pussycat, pussycat, what did you there? I chased a mouse under the chair." In the presence of royalty the cat bothered itself with a little mouse! We stand in the presence of momentous events, and we dilly-dally at the fringe areas of life chasing mice!
Commit yourself! Get the "once for all" quality in your heart and will. Will the world be better when the "puff of smoke" which is your life dissolves "into thin air?" Will your life be a contribution? Or will it be merely a life of dilly-dallying in the periphery? It's not the length of life that is important, but its contribution. Not life's duration - but its donation, not "how long" - but "how well."
Perhaps we would be better served to say "Stop the world i want to get ON!" as Rubel Shelly suggested. As he well noted we have a vested interest in the world to be part of God's redemptive work in Christ; called to be salt and light to a fallen world that's lost its way.
What is your life? What is your response to the entanglements and challenges of the world? Remember we are God's men and women, in God's hour, living in God's world.