James 4:14 – “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.“
Dave and I recently attended the funeral of a sweet sweet lady from our church who had died suddenly. She was only 69 but had been in ill health for many years and lived in a local nursing home for a good part of the last decade or so. She had faithfully attended the church we now go to but, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, she was only able to get back out to church in the past several months. But we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her before God called her home, and we all truly miss her.
A dear man from our church faithfully picked her up and drove her each Saturday morning for prayer meeting and Lord’s Day for morning services. She required oxygen, I am assuming 24/7, and was really tuckered out just from walking on her walker about 40 feet from the car door to the front door of the home church. She never complained about her health and didn’t seem that worried about it but was always sweet and mild. One morning, we were told, after breakfast the nursing home attendant rolled her back into her room and left for a few minutes. When she returned, Betty’s body was slumped over and her spirit was now with Jesus. God had said “it’s time” and she was gone in an instant.
Our pastor preached a wonderful sermon at her small funeral, but one thing that he mentioned really resonated with me. Paraphrasing, he said how just yesterday we were all 18 and how fast time has flown and we are now so much older. It’s so true. A younger person just cannot relate to that statement because they haven’t lived much of their life yet (assuming a normal life span, Lord willing). But those of us who are now in our 50’s, 60’s and beyond nod our heads, look at each other smiling and say “It’s so true!”
Betty had been in and out of the hospital with different ailments and every so often Pastor would request prayer for Betty because she was “in the hospital again”. But she had such a peace about it. You could see that her treasures weren’t in good health, or riches or anything but knowing Christ and trusting in Him. To speak frankly, her health had deteriorated to the point where her quality of life had shrunk to a very small sphere. But she put us all to shame determined to be worshipping God if she could possibly get to church and prayer meetings. Her sacrifice of worship was kind of a modern day widow’s mite, if that makes sense. She gave everything she had in her extreme fragility and weakness to get to church and worship God while so many these days use flimsy excuses in exchange for something they would rather do.
Here is Pastor’s sermon at Betty’s funeral, well worth the few minutes to listen to, IMO:
Dave and I started eating turkey bacon a couple years ago when I went on a leaky gut healing program (I highly recommend it, by the way. It changed my life). Anyway, many times when I am cooking the bacon, I look at the four pieces in order in the pan and it reminds me of how short life is:
Each piece cooks differently and I pull the fully cooked pieces from the top, move all the pieces up, and replace with new pieces on the bottom. The top ones have been through the cooking process and are somewhat dark and bubbly, maybe a little burnt, charred and beat up if I kept them in too long, but they are the ones ready to be taken from the pan first. The piece next down is a little less cooked, and not burned yet, and so on. As we grow up, sometimes there are four, even five, generations alive at the same time, but great-grandma and grandpa die not long into the lives of the great-grandchildren. Then next up are the grandparents, then mom and dad, and then, all of a sudden, we are next in line to be taken from the frying pan of this earth. Where did the time go????!!!!
As we have all seen or experienced, sometimes God, in His sovereignty, takes a young one first, or a parent or sibling first. That’s His business and not ours to understand. But Pastor’s funeral sermon brought something forth to me that I needed to be reminded of. It’s not how long we live, but how we are spending our time here on earth. Am I wasting a lot of time I should be redeeming? (and here’s Part 2) Do I really believe to live is Christ and to die is gain? (Phil 1:21) Am I immersed in the means of grace I’ve been given (Bible, prayer, worshipping with God’s people, etc.), focused on learning more about Christ, or something that is fleeting or the flavor of the day in any given area of life? As Pastor said, our time here on earth determines our eternity. Our eternity! The glories of being in Heaven with Christ will never, ever, end, and the unthinkable torments of being in hell completely separated from God will never, ever end. May God grant each of us to pause and take some serious time to let that sink in.
I just wanted to pass along what has been pressing on my heart and am taking a new inventory of my priorities in life. God is shakin’ them up, and I’m thankful. May Christ draw each of us to Himself and give us a fresh desire for Him in light of eternity.
(For more on James 4:14, you can listen to what Puritan Thomas Manton has to say regarding it on our James Commentary audio book page, or you can listen below following:
or download it.)