Just a Vapor

by APC on April 01, 2020

When we were children, my mother was absolutely ingenious when it came to filling our summer days with activities. Taking full advantage of the extra space outdoors, sun, and blissful weather, she structured many activities under the open air of our back porch.

One of my favorite activities from those youthful years was water-painting. Never heard of it? It’s exactly like it sounds. My mother would pull out empty butter tubs, ten-cent paintbrushes, and give us leave to create the ultimate masterpiece, using the deck floor as our canvas.

Such a simple activity would enthrall us for hours. We could create endless water paintings on the deck floor as the water seeped into the grain of the wood. In a matter of minutes, the painting would disappear, the hot sun evaporating all the moisture from the planks. We’d begin again and again, painting picture after picture, with my mother oohing and aahing over each one.

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 (James 4:14, KJV).

Reflecting over this found memory, I realize there’s a lot I can learn from this experience. While I could focus on the forgotten simplicity of the activity, my spirit is stirred over the temporal essence of it all.

We were created by God and placed on this earth somewhat in the same way my mother lovingly situated my sisters and me on the back porch those summers long ago. We were given the ability by our Savior to work and create our own individual masterpieces—and live our lives—all under the watchful eye of our Lord.

We toil and paint under the noon-day sun, proud of our own accomplishments. And, God oohs and aahs over our efforts, knowing He’s given us every ability to do what we’ve done. But, when the sun remains in the day and begins to evaporate our painting, we frantically seek to hold onto what was never meant to exist long-term.

God did not create any of us with the promise of living for multiple decades nor with the assurance of material wealth and abundant possessions. Our life (and everything surrounding it) is like a vapor. It’s meant to be temporary—a mist that comes and will eventually go. It’s not permanent, nor guaranteed, and will eventually pass away from this life.

It’s easy for a child to understand this truth: a water-painting isn’t permanent; it’s temporary. The sun will evaporate the moisture, making room for something or someone new. As adults, we have difficulty accepting and embracing this truth. We feel that if we’ve put in the work to create something, it should last. If we’re a good person and trust God, we should live a little longer on earth. But, we’re vapors—all of us—and none of us are promised tomorrow.

This life on earth was never meant to be a permanent homestead for anyone. Earth is not the eternal back porch we should long to rest upon. God reminds us in His Word to seek the eternal things, not the temporal ones; to keep our eyes heaven-ward, and not upon the earth absorbing the water droplets of our lives.

God, help us to know that this world isn’t our home. Painting on this earthen canvas is seasonal; we’re ultimately looking forward to the time when we can spend eternity with You. Yes, we’re a vapor, but a vapor that’s been created to be drawn upwards and onwards to a home beyond the sky.