PRINCIPLE: “When it’s misty, get a clear view.”
We were staying in a cabin up in the mountains. Upon awakening the first morning I stepped outside to enjoy the view and snap some pictures – but there wasn’t much to see. The mist covered both the mountain peaks and the valleys. Disappointed, I went back inside. A while later I went out again and found the mist burning off and the view improving. At that point disappointment turned to reflection. “When it’s misty, get a clear view.”
I thought of James, who wrote, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) In the grand scheme of life, all our lives short-lived. We can cast aside this truth as morbid, depressing, and defeatist – or we can accept it as the motivation for living each day, each hour, each minute, each second to the fullest. If we choose to cast it aside we have every reason to live life with reckless abandon – grab all the gusto we can for tomorrow we die. If we choose to accept it, we have power and purpose for living.
The power and purpose are clear in James. Read the verse again, this time in its full context (4:13-17). “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.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” “When it’s misty, get a clear view.”
It reminds me of something I asked my pastor when I was in high school; “If you knew you had just one day to live, what would you do?” His response, in essence, was that he hoped he was living in such a way that his last day would be lived the same way, doing the same things, that he did every day. In other words, since our lives are short-lived, since we do not know when we will take our last breath, we should live each day, each hour, each minute, each second as if it were our last. James said we should do the good we ought to do.
And what is that good? Jesus said (Mark 12:30-31), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” The word Jesus used for love is ‘agape’ – agape love is not an emotion but an action of the will; it’s a conscious decision to do what love demands. It’s the love Jesus has for us – He doesn’t love us because we make him feel so good, but because He chose to love us – with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength – all the way to the cross.
I think it would be appropriate to start each morning with some mist – because “When it’s misty, get a clear view.” Today, what does love require of you? In this moment, what would loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength look like? What would loving your neighbor as you love yourself, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength look like? After all, in the grand scheme of life, our lives short-lived – should we not live it to the fullest?
Lord God, “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.” (Ps. 90:12 GNT)