I keep having these thoughts that life seems so terribly short. They come most frequently first thing in the morning, and they are lightning bolt type thoughts—bright, powerful, elusive, and momentary. I’ve been having these thoughts for several months now, and I realize I don’t yet know how to full put these thoughts into words. I find them like a dream—vivid in memory and emotion, but hard to articulate clearly.
There’s some connection between these thoughts and my growing realization that this thing we call the Christian faith—a belief system and a way of life for many disciples of Jesus—is actually true. I know that probably sounds silly, and you may feel that of course it’s true. But I can’t help but wonder at the knee-bending, breath-taking thought that we have this one life, where we’ll work and live and move and marry and have kids and serve God. And then life will end, and eternity will begin, and it will never stop.
I’ve felt this way before, and it drove me to a sense of urgency about living out my faith in a radical way. But living out my faith in a radical way drove wedges in my relationships with others and with God because I willed myself to bear fruit rather than abiding in the Vine who produces fruit that lasts through me.
This time around, I know enough to not fall into the same trap, but I’m likely falling into some new trap I can’t even see. I’m less anxious now, and less worried about making my mark on the world, even for God’s sake, and I’m more attuned to small joys—all the while becoming more and more aware of my own impermanence. I suspect there’s a plateau or peak beyond this valley, one where I’ll come to depend on and commune with God in faith in a more tangible way. But I’m also aware that I’m missing something right now—I just don’t know what.
James reminds us that life is a vapor, and we do well to remember his lesson. And Jesus reminds us to abide and remain in Him, and we do well to remember His lesson too. These are lessons the dead and the Living can teach us, and lessons our elders can share with us, because I suspect they have walked into and out of these kinds of valleys before. That’s why it’s good to read old books, and it’s good to hang out with old people, neither of which I do often enough.
But ultimately, these are lessons my God will teach me if I continue coming to Him in faith. Perhaps these thoughts are markings of a humbling process, a promise of the gospel, that dying to self will actually lighten my burden, because the yoke of my Master and Friend is easy and light. May God grant each of us the grace and wisdom to know how to yield to Him in this way.
Question: Do you have the sense that life is a vapor? If so, how do you live out of that reality? If not, how can you embrace this truth?