Just a Vapor: Part 2

Just a Vapor: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series. Click here to read Part 1.

In Part 1 last week, we looked at the reality that you are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. We have ideas, desires, plans, and strategies, but God determines if those unfold. Proverbs says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps,” and “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (16:9, 19:21).

We are called to live with an attitude of “if the Lord wills” because we don’t want to be presumptuous or arrogant about our future. We want to acknowledge that our lives are in God’s hands, and we want to submit and only act in accordance with his will. The apostle Paul lived this way, and we have a record of him explicitly saying things like, “I’ll be there…if the Lord wills” (Acts 18:21, 1 Cor. 4:19).  

But we shouldn’t think that if we mechanically tack that phrase onto the end of every sentence we’re honoring the Lord! “I’ll be over at 6:00pm, if the Lord wills.  I just have to finish emptying the dishwasher, if the Lord wills, and then stop at the store, if the Lord wills.” Living for God’s honor with an eternal perspective must be more than just mentioning him or giving him a shout out to make yourself feel better! Incorporating phrases like “if the Lord wills” into our dialogue can be one helpful way to remind ourselves and others that our lives do depend on the will of God. 

Living a God-centered life is more than just including God in your plans or consulting with God on the side. It is about beginning with God. It is about making your Heavenly Father – his kingdom, his will, his priorities, his commands – the foundation and starting point of every decision, every activity, every day.  

Acknowledging that we are only a vapor and only God is sovereign is a wonderfully freeing reality. This means that the highs and lows, defeats and victories, struggles and blessings of this world are not dependent on you! Your life is not the center of the universe! Your life is not in your hands! As Pastor Matt wrote in his blog from 2020 on this same passage, 

“We would honor God and live wisely if we made all our plans humbly acknowledging God’s sovereignty. The added benefit of this is that if something doesn’t go your way, you can say with joy, it wasn’t God’s will. And since you know, Christian, that because he has good plans for you even your disappointments are for your ultimate good. Some things will turn out just as you planned, some will not. And that’s OK. God is wiser than you and he cares for you and he has a plan for you.”

So, how do we live and plan in a way that depends on the will of the Lord? 

  1. Listen:  Pray and ask the Spirit to lead you. Then listen for his guidance. When the Spirit is stirring you to act, act. When you are not sure, wait and be patient. Consider also these Six Ways the Spirit Guides Us.
  2. Learn:  Soak yourself in the Word. Read and study God’s Word daily, so that you learn the commands of God and the heart of God. Then obey the Word.  
  3. Submit:  Submit your desires, goals, and preferences to the Lord. Don’t seek your own glory and your own kingdom. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
  4. Connect:  Surround yourself with Christian community. Listen to the wisdom of pastors, mentors, parents, and friends. Consider building a Bullpen of Relationships. Most of the stupid things I’ve done in my life I’ve done on my own.
  5. Be Open:  When you do make a decision, establish plans, or invest in something – even a good, godly thing – remember nothing in this world is certain. As the 1981 song by 38 Special says, “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go.  If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” 

One time some friends came to my wife and I for advice about some big plans. They were considering moving to the mission field to serve at a school in Africa. It would have obviously required a lot of planning, finances, and arrangements. Initially it seemed like a wonderful opportunity, and they were very excited. In general, since we only have one life, I think we should live with a “go for it” attitude – unless there is a clear reason not to. For a while, it seemed like they were headed to the mission field! But as they listened to the Lord, sought counsel, considered family needs, finances, logistics, and their sense of calling, they ultimately decided not to go. While it was a tremendous ministry opportunity, they decided it was not the Lord’s will for them. They submitted to God, and he led them.  

So, let’s live by the Lord’s will. Don’t build your life on arrogant, self-centered plans. Remember, you are just a vapor. Since our lives are only temporary, we need to hold onto the only thing in life – the only One – who is steady, firm, stable, good, wise, loving, and eternal. Live for the Lord, in the Lord, and with the Lord. 


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