On the young man’s Facebook page, he made hopeful comments. He had just graduated High School when he wrote, “Can’t wait to see what’s in store for my future.” Randomly, several weeks later, he gushed, “Some day, I’m going to travel the world.” The Colorado Mesa University student from Lakewood, Colorado, was 19 years old when he went hiking in Bangs Canyon south of Grand Junction and fell to his death on Saturday.
Obituary columns are supposed to be filled with wrinkled faces and names that sound like our grandparent’s generation. Birth dates should go way back to the early or at least mid-1900s. We’re just not conditioned to think that death can come to the young. But if we are careful Bible readers, we realize that there is no guarantee that we reach Moses’ inspired guideline for life expectancy of 70 or 80 (Psa. 90:10). We listen to James as the Holy Spirit leads him to write, “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” (4:14). It does not say that the vapor floats around for a century and a half or more. We do not get to decide how high and long our vapor hangs in the air.
The fact of this uncertainty ought to cause all of us, wherever we are on the time continuum, to take the attitude James urges. He writes, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'” (4:15). Such a statement shows submission under God, humility before God, and obligation to God. This will help us see each day as a gift from Him and should cause us to use it wisely and productively to accomplish His will. It should also prompt us not to delay following and submitting our lives to Him. Instead, it should cause us to not delay becoming a Christian, leaving a lifestyle of sin, or getting actively involved in serving Christ.
Most of us will likely reach a ripe old age. The law of averages are at play. But we do not get to choose if we do or do not. What we can choose is who we serve and when!