Summary: A reflection on how short our lives really are and the importance of making the greatest impact for God out of the short time that we have.
The Brevity of Life
Introduction: In case you don't know brevity means shortness or briefness. Memorial Day weekend is a time to reflect on those who have passed away, mainly from military service. But the holiday has been broadened recently to remember loved ones who have also passed away. This morning we take a look at how short life really is.
Harry Houdini was known as the ultimate escape artist. He was known for defying death again and again. The Daily Mirror challenged him to escape a pair of handcuffs that took the craftsman 5 years to make them. He took the challenge and after an hour he escaped. He would be placed upside down with his feet shackled in a water tank, He would hang from tall cranes in a straightjacket, his legendary act of being buried alive almost cost him his life in 1912 and had to call for help in a panic his hand broke the surface and later he said "the weight of the earth is crushing."
On the afternoon of October 22, 1926, two University students visited Houdini's dressing room. Houdini was looking through his mail, when one of the students, J. Gordon Whitehead, asked Harry if he could indeed withstand any blow to the abdomen. Harry responded that he could, if given time to brace himself, at which point Whitehead hit Houdini four times in the abdomen, assuming that Houdini had indeed braced himself for the blows. Throughout the evening, Houdini performed in great pain. He was unable to sleep and remained in constant pain for the next two days, though he did not seek medical help. When he finally saw a doctor, Harry was found to have a fever of 102 degrees and acute appendicitis. He was advised to go to the hospital for immediate surgery. However, Harry decided to complete his show as planned that night.
By the time Harry arrived on stage, his fever had risen to 104 degrees. He was tired and in pain and his assistants often had to step in and offer help. Audience members reported that Harry missed his cues and seemed in a hurry. By the middle of the third act, Houdini asked his assistant to lower the curtain as he could not go on. When the curtain closed, Harry Houdini collapsed where he was standing and had to be carried back to his dressing room. He continued to refuse medical care until the next morning when his wife, Bess insisted he go to the hospital. Harry relented and had his appendix removed, however it had already ruptured and doctors did not have much hope for his survival. On October 31, 1926 the man who had escaped death so many times before, lying near his wife and brother, Harry Houdini died. It seems that even the great Houdini could not escape death. Death is inescapable.
James offers some godly perspective on the way they were conducting their affairs as he addresses a group scattered Christians. It was a general letter reproving Christians for their degenerating faith and manners.