Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
— James 4:13-15
It is the middle verse here, James 4:14 (in bold) that caught my eye, but it requires the context of the outer verses. Again, the NIV translation helps in understanding this in more modern terms:
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
I'm currently reading Martin Buber's The Way of Man. In the first tale,"Heart Searching" we read that when God asks Adam, "Where art thou?" He is not looking for Adam. This is not some divine game of hide and seek. Adam cannot hide from God. God is asking Adam, and all that follow Adam, each and every one of us, "Where are you in your world? So many years and days of those allotted to you have passed, and how far have you gotten in your world?"1 I consider this as I read For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Many times in my life I came close to death, each time I was only able to look back in shame. My ambition today is to die in peace with God, right with the world and with all those I love.
To do this I'll do well to remember the ethereal quality of life, and do my best to make each moment matter; to show up in love, to withhold judgement, to see with a wide perspective, to welcome and embrace each aspect of life as it unfolds. We can plan plans—and we should to create a sense of purpose—but we cannot plan results. That's God's territory. Thy will, not mine be done.
1 Martin Buber, The Way of Man, Routledge 1965 (This book was recently sent to me as a gift from a reader, Francesco Garcea, to whom I offer profound thanks.)