Vapor Trails

When I was growing up, outside Austin, Texas in the hill country, I would see numerous vapor trails across the sky.  At that time Bergstrom Air Force Base was going strong.  It was home to numerous B-52 bombers and fighter jets.  They regularly flew over the hill country and left their vapor trails in the sky.

Often the vapor trails would linger, then start to drift, and change shape.  Finally, they would dissipate and scatter.

In the Book of James we find this curious passage that talks about vapor and smoke:

“You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears.”

James draws our attention to the transitory nature of life.  While we live mostly as if it will never end or change, there is a definite beginning and ending of our life on this planet.  James puts it in stark perspective when he says it is like a puff of smoke or vapor.  It appears for a moment then disappears.

Of course, there are those who think this is too sad to think about, and why would we even want to contemplate it?  But, it causes us to view things from a more proper perspective, and to cherish what time we have.  To make it count.  To do something worth while.  To make a difference.

There are those who make their mark upon this life by doing something weird, or dangerous, or even to commit crimes.  Some want to be remembered as the one who killed someone famous, or die for this cause or that cause.

But, there are other ways of leaving your mark before your ‘vapor’ disappears.  There are other ways to be remembered.  Most of them might never make the newspapers or be on television, but they are important nonetheless.

Let me tell you of just a few who left an indelible mark on life, and were remembered long after their vapor disappeared.

My mother was not a famous person.  She accomplished little that was picked up by the newspapers.  She simply trusted God, loved her husband, raised children (some not her own), fed the poor, helped the missionaries, encouraged the down-hearted, prayed for the sick and distressed, supported her church and pastor, and lived a simple life.  But, she will be remembered long after her vapor disappears.

James Chapman was my friend.  He worked a job, raised a family, worked in the local church, taught the church’s boys club (Royal Rangers), encouraged others, and maintained a constant and never-ending prayer list.  He had no desire to be famous or to be recognized.  But, James will be remembered long after his vapor disappears.

And then there is Jesus.  He came to love, save, deliver, and heal the broken-hearted.  He gave up his future, his family, his career, his ability to sit on the porch with His grandchildren at His feet, and His life.  He was murdered at the age of 33.  But, long after his earthly vapor disappeared He is not only remembered, He is the source of everything good, and everything worth living for.  He gives not only joy in this life, but in the life to come, too.

What kind of vapor trail are you leaving?  Will it be gone and not remembered, or will it endure long after the vapor has disappeared?

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One Response to “Vapor Trails”

  1. beamcguire@gmail.com Says:

    My desire is to leave a vapor trail of faithfulness, dedication, and integrity. It so concerns me today that people live like they will live forever (on this earth). Yes, the older I become the more I do realize the meaning of that scripture for truly life is only a vapor and then we are gone! I can only hope my vapor lingers a long time. Thank you for your inspiration and blessings!

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