Summary: Personal thoughts after a birthday.

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James 4:14

Do We Really Get It?

Woodlawn Baptist Church

August 29, 2004


I want to welcome you to our services today and tell you that it is good to be in the Lord’s house on this special Sunday. What makes this Sunday so special? Is it the baptism that we will observe in a few minutes? or the Lord’s Supper that we will partake of after lunch? Perhaps it is the lunch that sets it apart from other Sundays. Of all our worship services, I like Fifth Sundays the best, because on those days we come together in worship and celebration, then go home to spend the afternoon with our families.

One of the reasons that I am glad of today is because of a lesson the Lord has been sowing in my mind for some time now, which finally began to bear fruit this past week, and it is time that I share it with you. Some of you will not think much of it, and that is fine. I have come to realize that some people don’t think much about anything. But for those of you who long for something deeper or better, I want you to think about a few things with me this morning.

In James 4:14, we read a statement that is very familiar to us. James writes,

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

I have shared with a few of you that this last birthday I celebrated was the most difficult so far. I have welcomed every birthday of my life so far with great joy, and even when I turned 30 I was happy, because finally I wasn’t just a punk kid. Years 31 through 34 didn’t bother me either, but this year has been most difficult, and James 4:14 is why. Our lives are but vapors – here one moment and gone the next, and the question that looms in my mind has been this: “What have you done with your life?”

I used to hear about men going through a mid-life crisis and laugh. I know what a mid-life crisis is. Every man grows up with dreams about what life is going to be: what he will accomplish, how his marriage will turn out, and so on, but somewhere along the way he realizes that he hasn’t done it, and then makes a furious attempt at reliving those years. Other men will simply resign themselves to the humdrum, choosing instead not to live.

Before you get the idea that I am going to spend your morning in vain self assessment, let me pause and ask you this question: “What have you done with your life?” You see, I am convinced that there is more to life than what most of us settle for. Most of us, whether we realize it or not, resign ourselves to getting along in this world, with little thought for what we’re doing with the days God gives to us.

Do you remember Moses? Last Wednesday night we read that Moses realized that he was destined to be God’s man: the one who would deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage – but rather than waiting on God and getting prepared for his life’s purpose he jumped out there and made a mess of things. Moses then fled to Midian where he would spend the next 40 years tending sheep in the desert. It took Moses 40 years to get to the place where God could use him, and at 80 years of age he became one of the greatest leaders found in all the Bible. There is no place like the desert. I found myself there this past week, having fled there for personal reasons. I have been skirting the desert for some time now, but I finally went. I’m going to tell you this story so you won’t be confused by the metaphors, and some of you may identify with me.

God called me to preach and pastor a few years ago; a calling that I hold dear. I believe there is no greater calling in all the world, no greater job than that of proclaiming God’s Word and shepherding His people. When I went to seminary and began preaching, I began to believe that I was God’s answer for our associational work, and acted like it. Some of you will remember that last year I was given the opportunity to preach our local association’s annual message – and you prayed for me as I prepared. You remember that Moses jumped in and tried to deliver his people and ended up being rejected? That message was my attempt. Every word was true, but I was mistaken about my role and my time. Rather than accept what was said, I realized that I had alienated my brethren, and though you never noticed it, I began to tumble into confusion and self-doubt. I began to spend less time in study and more time finding odd jobs to occupy my time. I would pastor, preach, and leave well enough alone, all the while pursuing odd jobs to fill some void I was feeling. Those jobs became my Midian, my time in the desert, and during my time there I have done a lot of talking to the Lord.

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