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 in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. – James 4:13-17
We are mist that appears for a little while then vanishes. No matter how successful we are and how much material wealth and knowledge we accumulate we are ephemeral on this earth. We could go the way of Ecclesiastes and conclude that everything is meaningless or we can cherish every moment of the journey because our time is so limited and we have so much to learn.
Mist or dew has come up several times during my float through the bible. Way back in Deuteronomy the dew represented God’s blessings which can sometimes seem ephemeral compared to the steady water supply provided by deep wells of living water. Gideon in the book of Judges relied on dew and lamb’s wool to discern God’s will. This passage uses language very similar to language in Hosea “It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!” Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears”.
It is only later, after the confluence of the old and new testaments, that clouds and mist take on new meaning as God Himself “condenses” on the earth in human form. It is interesting that we also are compared to mist. I think the point here is that as we go about our journey here on earth we tend to focus on the wrong things. Our spirit is what is eternal and real while all material things are ultimately ephemeral.
In the hydrologic cycle on earth all water is in motion from cloud to land, land to river, river to sea, and from the sea back to the clouds again. It is the journey that defines the raindrop’s purpose. Just as it is the spiritual cycle, and the work of our souls, that defines our journey here on earth, not the body in which our soul is travelling. What is the “work” of our souls? I think it is the process of discerning God’s will for our lives and acting on His will to grow into the souls He needs us to be.
This ia alluded to in the last part of the passage when it says “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” God is in the business of sculpting our souls and stripping away all the things that make us blind if we let Him. He does however give us the freedom to remain in the dark distracted by the dollars and diplomas so valued by this world.
Prayer: God help us to focus on the health and prosperity of our souls.