Daily Devotional

James 4:13-15

"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.”

At 11:40pm on April 14, 1910, when most of the 2,224 passengers on board RMS Titanic were asleep in their cabins, Frederick Fleet – the lookout in the crow’s nest – yelled the famous words: “Iceberg, right ahead!”

The colossal 882-foot ship represented the height of man’s technological achievement, innovation, wealth and opulence.  Before its maiden voyage across the Atlantic, an employee of the White Star Line was overheard saying, “Not even God himself could sink this ship.”
But two hours and forty minutes after grazing an iceberg, Titanic plunged into the freezing water and sank 12,000 feet to the ocean floor, claiming the lives of 1,517 victims.

This story, along with our passage in James, reminds us that life is short and very unpredictable.  On any given day, we like to think that we’re in control of our lives.  We make choices and decisions, operating on the assumption that we know what will happen next.  But only God really knows.  He has numbered our days and ordained the time of our death (Ps 139:16).

Job 14 declares: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not… his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass…” (verses 1-5).

That terrifying revelation can actually be liberating for those of us who know the Lord, because we can trust him.  We know our lives rest in his omnipotent hands, and there’s no safer place to be on earth.  “No one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
That revelation also helps us to die better.  Imagine the terror and chaos on board Titanic while it was sinking.  But one woman was ready to meet the Lord.  Her name was Annie Funk, a Mennonite missionary in India who was traveling home to care for her sick mother.

On that tragic night of April 14, Annie was sitting in one of the lifeboats, preparing to be lowered down, when she noticed a mother and child being held back.  Annie climbed back aboard the ship and gave up her seat, sacrificing her own life for the sake of that mother and child.
She did it because she knew her life was a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  More importantly, she knew where she was going when she died, and she was ready to meet the Lord.

In a sense, all of us are on the Titanic, aren’t we?  Our days are numbered, and we need to be ready to meet the Lord at any time.
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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