Yesterday I observed one of my dear friends say a final goodbye to his mother. This comes while the mother of my beautiful daughter has been waging a difficult battle to remain among us for over a month now.
Life. It comes with no guarantees but death. Death is the only certainty. How long before we reach it remains hidden to each of us. There is no promise of tomorrow. No promise of the next hour. It is a gift, life. It’s a gift from He Who gives it. Ours is a gift, and those we love is also a gift to us. Children, family, friends. People who hold a special place in our heart.
There is an expiration date. At least one that God knows. But we don’t, and can’t know it. So we plunge blindly into and through the deep and dark waters of life not knowing how long we’ll be permitted to do so. Interestingly, though we’re aware the expiration date may be but a moment away, we more often than not navigate these unsettled waters of life as though we know exactly where we’re going and how long it’ll take. We expect loved ones to always be with us, and so since it’s normally not convenient, we often fail to stop the screws and drift a moment with those we cherish. We take this life for granted. Within the framework of our own personal and brief existence, life has always been, and of course will continue to be. Tomorrow. I’ll see them tomorrow. But oh so many times, tomorrow comes and we’re devastated by the reminder that life here, on this earth, in these bodies, is guaranteed to cease.
We say we “love” others. We also say we “love” inanimate objects. People today simply “love” everything all the time, to the point where the word is meaningless. I “love” you. I “love” this car. I “love” that television show. I “love” this song. Perhaps the most telling, damning evidence of our “love” lies in where we spend our time and energy. Then comes the day that a loved one loses their lease on life. We could have spent untold hours with them, but the car needed waxing, and there’s this show I can’t miss, and I have to close this deal today because tomorrow isn’t soon enough, and… you fill in the blank. Suddenly they’re gone, and we’re reminded that maybe our misplaced “love” has served us wrong. Maybe all of those pressing matters that kept us away from them weren’t so pressing after all. The car is still here and can still be waxed. But I can’t see this person ever again. Can’t hug them, talk to them, laugh with them…
Life is an experiment. A series of lessons. Mistakes and triumphs. Sometimes we learn well. Other times we’re so habitual that the lesson goes unnoticed and we continue doing what we do. Then we’re reminded; you get just one shot, no do-overs. The decision then becomes, do we learn from this lesson? Do we learn from the missed opportunities to do something that really matters. Or do we wax cars and watch TV?
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. – James 4:14 (NASV)
Yes, life is a vapor.