Arnold Palmer and Jose Fernandez. Both athletes. Both adored by their fans. One died when he was expected to (Arnold at the age of 87) and another when no one thought he would (Jose at the age of 24). One was a Hall of Fame golfer. The other was an exciting, up-and-coming All Star.
What they have in common is death. In Isaiah 40:6-8 we read,
“6 … All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, …” (Isa 40:6b-8a). Man’s life is transitory; it is one of brief duration. Usually, when people talk of the brevity of life, they follow it up with something like one of the following mantras…
- “Life is short; play hard.”
- “Life is short; live each day like it’s your last.”
All of these would be fine sayings, but in the Scripture, when the transitory nature of man is spoken of, these clever sayings do not follow. What usually follows is a comparison to an eternal, all-wise God. Look at the next part of vs. 8 – “… But the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 40:8b). See the contrast? Man is transitory; God is forever.
James 4:13-14 reads, –
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas 4:13-14).
Our life vanishes as quickly as it comes into being. What does James contrast it with? Keep reading. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (Jas 4:15). He is Lord; we are not. James is saying, “Our life is a vapor and we have no control over it. Who does? God does, because He is not a vapor. He is eternal.” Every time we see something in this world that does not last – our health, dead grass, rain – we ought to immediately remember God is eternal.
The brevity or extension of human life is no accident; God created it this way. And before you know it, age the age of 24 or 87, death will usher you into eternity.
What are you going to do to prepare for eternity? And most importantly, what is your destination?
Corrie Ten Boom, who was a Dutch Christian that famously saved countless Jews during the Holocaust, said, “The measure of a life is not its duration but its donation.” Your donation on earth – what you do with Christ – will determine your destiny.