Recently I was reflecting on Job’s observation recorded in Job 14:1, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble,” and I was immediately reminded of the question posed in James 4:14b, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (KJV). It occurred to me then that when each of us got out of bed this morning, there were many others who did not make it through the night. There are many who will not make it through to the end of today. At some time or another, until Jesus returns, we all have an irrevocable appointment with death that we all must keep (Ecclesiastes 3:2; Hebrews 9:27a). Tomorrow, and everything that comes with it, is not promised to any of us.
That God allowed us to be living in the moment when He could have easily done otherwise provokes the question, “Why?” Because God is always intentional, I firmly believe that we are all placed here for a purpose. To the Israelites in Babylonian captivity, He said, “For I know the plans I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11a, NIV), and I believe this knowledge on God’s part is applicable to each and every believer’s life. It is no stroke of good fortune that God allowed our eyes to open this morning. He did it for a purpose and lest we forget who we are and what that purpose is, Peter reminds us: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, KJV). Jesus told His disciples, and every disciple since, “You are the salt of the world … you are the light of the world … Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 5:13a, 14a; 28:19a). Every day that we are given is another chance to get it right; to start or to keep living with purpose.
The purpose for our allotted time here on earth has been clearly defined. Among other things we are to 1) be witnesses for Christ, wherever we are, in words and deeds; 2) show the way of Christ to a darkness-filled world; 3) make disciples; and 4) demonstrate the richness of a life that is fully surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. Unless we stop and take stock of our divine call and assignment, it is easy to lose sight of His purpose and fill our days only with the things we want to do. To live without fulfilling this purpose is to live outside of God’s will for our lives. That we do not know when our vapour will vanish away makes it even more urgent that we determine now, while we can, to live our lives purposefully.
The late American Presbyterian preacher Charles Henry Parkhurst was right when he said, “Purpose is what gives life meaning. . . . A drifting boat always drifts downstream.” In the “few days” that we have been given, how effectively are you and I fulfilling our purpose? My end goal is to die empty; to continue to intentionally use my life and talents for kingdom purposes. What is yours? How are you living out that goal? May God teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:10), and so commit ourselves to fulfilling our true purpose.