Life is a Vapor

Robin Williams, the much-beloved comedian and actor, died yesterday. In reflecting on his life, one television news show played a clip from the movie “Dead Poets Society” that seemed most appropriate for the occasion. In it Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, a teacher at a prep school, shared these lines of a poem with his students…

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying.

The biblical counterpart to that would be James 4:14…

Yet you do now know what your life will be like tomorrow.

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

imagesBoth passages reflect on the brevity of life. But they express very different views with regard to what we should do in light of the shortness of our lives. The first one calls us to make the best of the time we have. In “Dead Poets Society” the phrase was Carpe diem, “Seize the Day.” The message was to enjoy life while you can because it will soon be gone.


The Bible directs us to have an eternal perspective…

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” — Colossians 3:2

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” — Philippians 3:20

The Bible makes it clear that we are eternal beings. As John Piper puts it, “You and God are both in the universe to stay — either as friends on his terms, or enemies on yours — which it will be is proven in this life.”

Our admonition, then, is to live for eternity…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19-21

We are supposed to enjoy the things here on earth, too. But, our enjoyment of them is designed to turn our attention to the one who gave them to us. The blessings in this life are meant to be returned to God in praise.

I’ve never been what you would call a “fan” of Robin Williams, but I certainly recognize the quality of his body of work over the years. He was an extraordinary talent, and his passing has caused me to reflect…

Old time is still a-flying:

Am I saving treasures for eternity,

Or in things that will be dying?

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

One Response to Life is a Vapor

  1. Roda'sAmazon says:

    I was so saddened about Robin. I am totally in love with Dead Poet’s Society movie and keep watching it again and again. It contains so much pathos of our human experience.

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