You know the one where you predicted Duke, St Louis, VCU and Miami to be in the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament? Or for Michigan State to win it all? What happened to your Cinderella teams!
Oh, and who had Florida Gulf Coast University in the Sweet Sixteen? I know of no one except my wife, Norma Jean! I didn’t believe it. But sure enough she did! When I asked, “Why?” She said, “I picked all Florida teams! And I just like them!” So, much for expert analysis.
For the record. I had Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas and Indiana in the Final Four. So, I’m one out of four! No one knows the future. Much less who’s going to the Final Four.
It reminds me of this Bible warning. “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.” (Jas. 4:13-15, NIV)
James’ statement teaches us four things.
(1) Don’t get overconfident about your future. We plan. Save. Hope for a better day. Anticipate retirement. Speak of taking a trip next year. And we can’t even know what tomorrow will bring. Job loss. Sickness. An accident. Unexpected death. In an instant our lives are altered. Our future is changed. And so suddenly what we planned to do today, let alone tomorrow, is put on hold. Or cancelled.
(2) Life is brief. “What is your life?” asks James. A mist. Other versions say “a vapor.” Really? Life is like awakening to the morning dew that covers the grass. But by the mid-morning, the sun is shining. The dew is gone. And the grass is dry. Life is like the steam that rises from a kettle on a stove. We see the vapor. Briefly. It’s soon vanishes. Such is life.
To impress on us the transiency of our lives, the Bible compares life to a shadow that flees. A flower that fades. A cloud that disappears. A tale that is told.. Here today; gone tomorrow. It’s more than a cliche’. It’s so.
(3) Life is fragile. We like to think we’re tough. Strong. Invincible. But we are limited. Finite. Mortal. I’m sure Louisville’s Kevin Ware never thought about breaking a leg in the Duke basketball game. Instead of going back to Louisville Sunday evening, he went to Methodist hospital for surgery. Who knew? No one could have seen it coming.
The Psalmist remembers us our fragility, “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.” (Ps 39:4).
(4) Don’t leave God out of the picture! You don’t hear this expressed like you used too. I can remember as a boy people saying they were going somewhere, or doing to do something. Then they would add, “Lord willing.”
In an age of individualism, self-sufficiency and personal empowerment, we can forget there is a greater Power! A stronger Will. A Divine Person. He is God. Our Creator. Our Father. And He has a purpose that transcends our feeble plans. In His providence He sees the big picture.
Whatever happens to us in life, remember this. God guides us through life’s complexities. Provides stability in the face of uncertainty. Offers eternity in place of the temporary. And will give us immortality to replace this mortal life.
Come on, quit trying to figure it all out by yourself! You (and I) can’t even predict the Final Four! Or know the outcome of a ball game! Indeed, we know not what the future holds. But we know who holds the future.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman