Learning How To Make Our Brief Lives Beautiful

Our lives on earth are brief in comparison to eternity in Heaven. But we can still create beauty with them if we live with intentionality.

Learning How To Make Our Brief Lives Beautiful

June 5, 2024

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” —James 4:15 (NIV)

Snapping the leash onto my dog’s collar, we stepped into the fresh morning air. As we rounded the house, I stopped in my tracks. On the horizon, I could see mist rising from the New River. Against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the white stood out against green trees. The deeply contrasting colors created a scene of sheer beauty. From past experience I knew this picture would not last long ~ the mist would soon disappear in the morning sun. As I stood there, this passage came to mind: 

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 NIV)

If you know me, you know I love to plan. I’ve often turned to these Scriptures as a reminder to surrender my plans to God’s will. But that morning I viewed the passage with a new perspective. 

A few weeks earlier my doctor called to let me know the results of my annual mammogram were inconclusive. As a precaution she asked me to schedule a follow-up ultrasound. Although my doctor assured me these results would most likely come back normal, I felt uneasy as we hung up the call. Memories from seven years ago flooded my mind. 

That year I also had an abnormal mammogram. The follow-up ultrasound results were also inconclusive, so a biopsy followed. Fortunately those results showed no sign of cancer. Still, for the next year and a half, a breast cancer specialist monitored my health through frequent mammograms. Each visit to her office felt surreal. Finally she declared me cancer free and released me back to the care of my primary doctor. 

Medical scares remind us that our lives are brief. After the first time this happened, I often meditated on this Scripture, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV). I learned that a heart of wisdom sets the right priorities. Since that time, I have tried to make the most of my time here on earth. (You can read a blog post from that psalm here.) 

As I’m reminded again of the brevity of my life, I’m reflecting on the above verses from James. His words remind me to surrender not only my plans, but my very life to the Lord. Even as I pray for clean ultrasound results, I recognize that ultimately the Lord is sovereign. God alone determines how long we will live. 

I’m also focusing on the image James gives of our lives ~ a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. No matter how long we live, our earthly lives will be brief in comparison to our time in Heaven. But we can still create so much beauty during our time here. The key is to keep our eyes focused on Heaven and to live each moment with intentionality. 

Father God, thank You for having a plan for our lives. Ultimately we know Your will is always best. In those moments where we realize how brief our lives here on earth may be, we choose to make the most of our time. Thank You for Jesus who opened the way for us to live eternally in Heaven. We pray in His name. Amen.

Learning How To Make Our Brief Lives Beautiful

June 5, 2024

Our lives on earth are brief in comparison to eternity in Heaven. But we can still create beauty with them if we live with intentionality.

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” —James 4:15 (NIV)

Snapping the leash onto my dog’s collar, we stepped into the fresh morning air. As we rounded the house, I stopped in my tracks. On the horizon, I could see mist rising from the New River. Against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the white stood out against green trees. The deeply contrasting colors created a scene of sheer beauty. From past experience I knew this picture would not last long ~ the mist would soon disappear in the morning sun. As I stood there, this passage came to mind: 

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 NIV)

If you know me, you know I love to plan. I’ve often turned to these Scriptures as a reminder to surrender my plans to God’s will. But that morning I viewed the passage with a new perspective. 

A few weeks earlier my doctor called to let me know the results of my annual mammogram were inconclusive. As a precaution she asked me to schedule a follow-up ultrasound. Although my doctor assured me these results would most likely come back normal, I felt uneasy as we hung up the call. Memories from seven years ago flooded my mind. 

That year I also had an abnormal mammogram. The follow-up ultrasound results were also inconclusive, so a biopsy followed. Fortunately those results showed no sign of cancer. Still, for the next year and a half, a breast cancer specialist monitored my health through frequent mammograms. Each visit to her office felt surreal. Finally she declared me cancer free and released me back to the care of my primary doctor. 

Medical scares remind us that our lives are brief. After the first time this happened, I often meditated on this Scripture, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV). I learned that a heart of wisdom sets the right priorities. Since that time, I have tried to make the most of my time here on earth. (You can read a blog post from that psalm here.) 

As I’m reminded again of the brevity of my life, I’m reflecting on the above verses from James. His words remind me to surrender not only my plans, but my very life to the Lord. Even as I pray for clean ultrasound results, I recognize that ultimately the Lord is sovereign. God alone determines how long we will live. 

I’m also focusing on the image James gives of our lives ~ a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. No matter how long we live, our earthly lives will be brief in comparison to our time in Heaven. But we can still create so much beauty during our time here. The key is to keep our eyes focused on Heaven and to live each moment with intentionality. 

Father God, thank You for having a plan for our lives. Ultimately we know Your will is always best. In those moments where we realize how brief our lives here on earth may be, we choose to make the most of our time. Thank You for Jesus who opened the way for us to live eternally in Heaven. We pray in His name. Amen.

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2 Comments

  1. Jenn Hutchins on June 8, 2024 at 5:24 PM

    Thank you so much for reminding us that our lives are but a mist. Every moment is precious, and the next one is not promised or guaranteed. It reminded me that it is a complete waste of my time to dwell on hurts, frustrations, or worries. They do not add a single hour to our lives, but waste the few precious moments that we have.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on June 11, 2024 at 9:06 AM

      Hi Jenn! It’s always nice to hear from you! Thank you for your practical insights. It inspires me to write a post about the ways we can use our precious moments to create beauty. Blessings!💕

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