I have always found the Letter of James in the Bible very down-to-earth and “say it like it is.” Today’s text (JAS 4:13-17), the first thing I read for the day, woke me up immediately with a reality that I preach but sometimes forget to practice. He says this: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit.” You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are like a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. How’s that for a reminder to live in the present moment? He is correct, of course, that ultimately we have no idea how long we will live or what it is that will end our life. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t make plans but rather that we should hold them lightly and be able to let them go without grumbling or despair if they need to be altered for some reason. Letting go of our small agendas for some worthy purpose is always a good preparation for a time when something large and unexpected occurs. And then there’s the line about our identity being “like a puff of smoke.” That reminder to keep working on our humility rather than holding on to our agendas as if they were the most important plans in the universe also furthers the possibility of surrender in the event of some greater project.
God bless the writer of the Letter of James whose words have endured to give me that wake up call for my Wednesday!