How long does a vapor last? What freedictionary.com defines as “Barely visible or cloudy diffused matter” lasts just momentarily. Really fleeting. That’s what the bible describes as the duration of our lives.
James 4:14b You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Hence, the prayer for wisdom to spend the finite, limited time we have in this physical body with God’s wisdom. There are some useless goals, mediocre goals, good goals (some even categorized as work for the Lord) but not necessarily what is best for a particular season of life. But God’s will is what’s perfect!
The best place of blessing is right in the center of God’s will. Despite presence of trials, if it is within His revealed will from His Word, then it is a blessed place. The typical list that the world will think of as blessings (such as prestige, possessions, position, power)—if not within God’s will (for example if stolen, grabbed, manipulated for) may not necessarily be for our good but for our testing, temptation, or torment.
Nevertheless, when we surrender our missteps and miscalculations to the Lord, He will use them for our good.
Psalm 90:12So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
I used to have elaborate plans for the future. By year X, this; by year Y, that. But after a season of my husband’s touch and go hospitalisations when there were so many close calls on his life, that “vapor” duration of life hit me. It became a season of reassessment for me as well. It was hard to plan for the second day, much less a week because I didn’t know what the present would present. The questions that kept coming back to mind were “What will the Lord allow to happen today? What does He want me to do today? How would I spend today if it were my last day on earth?” The concept of asking for our “daily bread” from the Lord’s Prayer started to make more sense.
During a seminar when I was asked to write down my bucket list, I couldn’t think of my usual wish list. All I could write was that I hope I would have the discernment to know what God wants me to do for the day, to accomplish the tasks at hand I already have with the roles He has already given me—as His child, as a wife, mother, businesswoman, employer, daughter, and to do some specific ministry He has given me the burden for. I trust that God who knows the desires of my heart has the heart to bless me in a holy, reliable way much more than I as a parent desire to bless my own children. He sometimes even gives them to me before I ask.
Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
Even if I have my one-year planner filled up with marvelous or mundane things to do, will I be alive to do those things? Will emergencies crop up that will need to bump off the things on the list? I recognize that surrender is needed that I may be flexible and accept that the Lord is my GPS directing me to His best journey and destination for me. If I miss out on His instructions, He will still provide instructions on the recalculated route as I continue to listen for His voice. Am I listening for His voice? Am I listening to His voice?(Here is a previous post about God as our GPS).
As time is a resource that can not be saved but only spent, it is profitable to inquire of the Lord and seek His will on how best to use it. His confirmation can be sought through His Word, through messages from His people who prayerfully seek His will, through messages He repeats to us from different places, in quiet time, in prayer time when He impresses something in our hearts—- those help us discern whether that is how God would want us to direct finite time, resources, and life.
The reason it is important is that whenever we say Yes to one thing, we are saying No to another. When we commit ourselves to one thing, our resources and time go with that and prevents us from doing other things. If I say yes to more work for more money, I am saying no to time with my children. If it’s all for children, am I still prioritising my husband? If I’m doing everything for my husband, am I bumping off God as my Number 1? There’s an ongoing calibrating with God’s values. He is a God of Order, not chaos.
Knowing life priorities help in the daily decision making:
Ministry (Children, Work, and Others)
James 4:13-16 (NASB) Boasting About Tomorrow13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”14 Yet 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.15 [i]Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
It’s usually only on hindsight that the picture gets clearer. It’s not perfect. But I am in the process of learning to submit my plans to the Lord and waiting on Him for confirmation. I pray I can make a lifestyle, Lord willing, of Praying By Ear. So please help me, God!
My spacing function is not working correctly at this time. Sorry about that.