I am working on my memoir. I have tentatively given it the title, Vapor, with an undetermined subtitle. The informed bible student will likely conclude that I chose the title based on the King James rendering of James 4:14…
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
I don’t care if you are the modern version of Methuselah, you are only here for a little while. A very little while. I try not to think about that every day but every now and then I do, and all the more frequently since my July 4th near-miss heart attack.
A very little while, indeed.
What got me on the topic today was a LinkedIn article I ran across. Author Katie Carroll wrote an article titled, If GIFs are cringe, I don’t want to be cool.
Here is an excerpt:
Poor Giphy. The one-time darling behind 2010s Internet-speak is now arguing that Meta needs to own it — because no one else wants to. Last year the UK’s competition watchdog ordered Meta to sell Giphy, which it had acquired in 2020 for roughly $315 million. But the app’s popularity has continued to wane, and Giphy’s chief argument in the filing is that a forced sale would be its death knell. The app is “now less attractive than it was two years ago,” and “the universe of potentially interested purchasers is limited,” the filing notes. Ouch.
Now, the jokes practically write themselves. Gifs are — allegedly — as “cringe” to Gen Z as email chain letters, or a Facebook “poke” from your great-aunt, were to millennials. Throw gifs in the outdated pile next to the “crying while laughing” emoji or your MySpace Top 8.
There is no place like the Internet for reminding us how swiftly things change. I only discovered Giphy a few years ago and now it is teetering on the precipice of the great abyss. Its owners have to argue against its value to save it.
I look at this and remember visiting with my Mom, whose speech is so impaired by multiple strokes, and who struggles to remember what happened days or hours before. I think about our last visit to see her in the east Texas convalescent home where she now lives. There she was, drifting in and out of sleep due to medication they had given her for pain and anxiety. She would talk with us for a few moments and then doze a few, only to wake up and pick up the conversation again.
Hanging on the wall, alongside other pictures of our family, is a painting of her as a little girl. She has had it all these years, for my entire life and then some. The painting never caught my attention quite so much as it did that day. There was the perfect illustration of the brevity of life – of the shelf life of a precious human being. It was really not that long ago that she was winning a child beauty contest, making her young momma so proud, and being painted by an artist as part of the reward. Now, she complains that she is of no use and wishes sometimes to go on to Heaven and be with my Dad, her husband, her lover, whom she remembers and still feels so deeply in her soul despite his being gone now for more than 30 years.
My beautiful, precious, buoyant, strong, faithful, godly mother has most of her earthbound life behind her…and I am not ready to consider that.
Nor am I ready to consider it regarding my own life, despite my recent brush with the Grimmest of Reapers.
And so, I listen to James, the brother of Jesus, asking…
“What is your life?”
What is my life? What is it worth? What is it for?
The Apostle Paul, a post-Crucifixion convert and prolific New Testament author, answers that question like this…
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
What is your life? Your life is a vapor. It is here and then dissipates. The idea of vanishing into thin air, of having no meaning beyond the short time given each of us on this dust ball is foreboding. What is done outside Christ is done and will not be long remembered or appreciated. What is done in Christ will never die. One thing that has no shelf life and no short run is your influence on others for Christ.
If living is Christ, then dying is gain, both for the one headed for the hereafter and those left behind in the here-and-now. Those in whom you invest gain the strength and instruction of your godly influence on their lives and pass it on to their children. You influence the path of generations by the lives you touch for Jesus Christ.
So, how do we make the mist last? How do we help the vapor leave a trail? How do we make our lives count?
I have a few suggestions:
If you are gonna vape, do it right
Use things and invest in people and never get the two reversed!
Live on purpose. Don’t get so lost in the pieces of the puzzle that you forget the big picture.
Never fall for the lie of the end justifying the means. When you do, don’t expect a happy ending. How and why you do what you do, and how you get where you want to go matters. It becomes your true legacy more than the actual accomplishment itself.
Fall down (you will), get up, keep going.
Do what you do in time with eternity in view. A short-sighted life is way, way worse than a short life. I thank God that my Dad’s short life left a lasting impression of faith and faithfulness on my soul.
What is your life?
Well, it’s a vapor. But what else? I will tell you what else. It is what you make it. So, make it count.