It’s amazing how the first snowfall in winter turns everyone into a kid again. Do you remember looking out the classroom windows at school when snowflakes began to fall? I bet you couldn’t wait for the bell to ring so that you could get outside and play in the snow.
There is something inside all of us that wants to get out and be a kid again, if only for a few minutes, when the snow begins to accumulate on the ground. That fluffy white powder makes us want to throw a snowball, or build a snowman, or lay back and create snow angels just like when we were children.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw an old woman lying in the snow making snow angels. It wouldn’t shock me if I saw a business executive in a suit and tie building a snowman before going to work. The first snowfall brings the kid inside us out again… If only for a moment.
Breathing hard in the bitter cold
This week, I was reminded again that the cold winter days also teach us a little bit about the brevity of life. At my home in South Georgia, the temperatures dropped, the moisture moved in, and the snow began to fall. I was up early in the morning reading my devotionals when I came across the Bible theme of how short life is.
The Bible uses a fascinating word to describe the length of human life in James 4:14. It refers to life as a mist. That’s the same word that would be used to describe smoke coming off of fire. That smoke lasts for a brief instant and then it’s gone forever. The word is also used to describe steam. When hot moisture hits cool air there’s a brief instant where you can see the moisture in the air in the form of steam or vapor. All of us know that vapor will last for a brief second. It would be impossible to capture the mist. There’s no way to hang onto it. It lasts for a brief second and then it’s gone forever.
This mist appears every time you breathe outside on a crisp winter day. Your breath is visible for an instant and then gone forever. I think this is the lesson that James is trying to teach us by using the word mist to refer to human life. James 4:14 reminds us that human life is a very brief. Even the oldest person on earth lives for short time when compared to all of human history. When we die, we vanish from the earth like your breath disappears on a cold winter morning.
Learning about eternity from the winter weather
I believe James used this word to describe human life to teach us about eternity. I don’t think James was trying to scare us by using the word mist. I am convinced James wanted us to look at life in the bigger picture than just our existence here on earth.
Like your breath on a cold winter morning the impact that you make here on earth is temporary but every human soul goes on for eternity. Of course, James wants to remind us that life is short but I also think he is trying to point us toward eternity. You can’t grasp your breath on a cold winter morning and hang onto it forever. Nor can you add one day to your life. However, you can make the most of the brief life God has given you. You can make an impact here on earth that will last forever in eternity.
When you walk into work on a cold winter morning look at your breath as it marks the air and remember that life is very brief. As long as you still have breath in your lungs, you have one more opportunity to settle forever where you will spend eternity. If you haven’t nailed down your relationship with God through the death of his Son, Jesus, then I challenge you to do that today. Since life is so brief, don’t wait to settle this issue. Nail down today where you will spend eternity, you might not have the chance tomorrow. You can do that in the form of a very simple prayer. It sounds something like this… Dear God, I have no hope of heaven without you. I believe you sent your Son, Jesus, to Earth because you love me and want to spend eternity with me. His death on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. His resurrection guarantees me the promise of eternal life. I surrender my soul to you today. I place my future in your hands. Amen. If you’ve just surrendered to Jesus by praying like this for the first time, we’d like to follow up with you. We’d like to encourage you and help you get plugged in to a good church somewhere. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.