How to Make the Most of Your Mist

The story is told of a mother, two men, and a 14-year-old boy on a small plane. There was a malfunction and the plane began to spiral toward the ground. To their dismay, only three parachutes were on board.

The woman, being a mother of five, grabbed one and jumped out of the plane. “My children need me,” she said.

One of the men proclaimed, “I’m one of the smartest people in the world and a brain surgeon—my patients, my community, my country need me.” He grabbed the second parachute and jumped.

Two people were left—the boy and an old man. The old man said, “Son, I’m old and frail, and I’ve lived a full life; you take this last parachute.”

To which the boy replied, “Sir, that’s alright. There are still two parachutes left, one for each of us. The smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack.”

That’s a silly story, but it illustrates a serious point: Our lives are fleeting, forgettable, and fragile. In light of how short our lives are, the book of James says we should live lives characterized by humility, eternity, and immediacy.

1. Humility

We must live with the awareness of how much our lives are owed to God.

Only the fool looks at his past and fails to see God’s hand of grace in his successes. Even worse, only a fool looks at the future and thinks it is under his control.

In Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, he notes how much of our successes were ultimately outside our control. Yes, our hard work contributed, but for us to truly be successful, we had to be in the right circumstances at the right time. And our particular upbringing and social network had massive implications, along with many other things we weren’t in control of or even aware of.

God enables. God raises up. God empowers. And so, James says, rather than boastfully claiming plans for tomorrow, we should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15 ESV).

We love this sense that we are the masters of our fates and the captains of our souls, but we have to reject the arrogant assumption that we are in control of our lives. The three most dangerous words in the English language might be, “I got this.” We really don’t.


2. Eternity

If our lives are a mist, as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, we have to think about what actually matters.

How many of us are so busy working toward a goal and trying to accomplish something that we miss the whole point of our short time on earth? Have we ever asked ourselves, “What difference is any of this going to make in eternity?”

Amy Carmichael once said, “We will have eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.” How foolish is it to live for this life alone? Only two things in life last forever—the Word of God and the souls of people.

May our lives be characterized by eternity, living for the things that last forever.

3. Immediacy

Because life is fleeting, fragile, and forgettable, we should not put off until tomorrow anything we know we should do today. Jim Elliot wrote, “Make it such, Lord, that when it comes time in my life to die, all I have left to do is die!”

Don’t wait to get saved. Don’t wait to tell that person about Jesus. Don’t wait to reconcile that relationship. Don’t wait to be generous.

James tells us, “Do all those things now while you can!” If we see something good and right in front of us to do and we fail to do it, we sin (James 4:17).

There are needs all around us right now, in our churches and communities. There are missionaries who need our support. We cannot—we must not—wait any longer.