Whereas you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away --James 4:14
A young man had woken up so fast and peered over at his alarm clock to find out he was going to be late to work, and he forgot to
take a breath and ran out to work and arrived 15 minutes late, and although he was late, his boss invited into his office for some very good news, not only was he going to get a raise, but, he was also going to be promoted to VP of the company and when he went to go take a deep breath, he died, for he forgot to take a breath.
This story is about us, we say with confidence that in "two years I am going to get a house in Montana and settle down" or you fill in the blank. This verse has been misconstrued by many Christians, in that we need to verbalize, "Lord willing". James was addressing the audience as a sort of reality check because they would make plans without having God anywhere in them, they would go out and live their lives without giving any regard to God and His person. They basically rejected Him by deed and heart. And so he gave them this reality of life as a wake-up call to say: "Hey, don't forget God!". I know there are days when I fail and falter and do this very thing, it is very easy in this society to be so consumed by life that we forget the one who created our life as a gift. Also, we are called sheep throughout the Bible, one thing that is true about sheep is that they forget, we forget, we simply don't have the capacity to remember all of this. So, what do we do? Do heart checks every morning. Ask yourself who is this day for, what I am doing today, (this doesn't mean that you can't follow passions, dreams and so on, as so many think this verse means), am I about furthering my own kingdom or God's? And be honest about it. This is a start, but a big start, a much needed start.
I also sense that James is sharing a sense of urgency to also live life, to remember to "Redeem the Time" and live life passionately as John Eldredge says: "Don't ask what the world wants, what the world needs are people who are passionate, go and be passionate!" God is about life. When life is spoken of the old testament speaks of life it is more of a call to the epiphany (Oh, I get it now!), that life is a moment, and I think James was here doing the same because they were neglecting life by living it in action without God in their heart. But, if you notice in the new testament (especially from the lips of Christ and the Apostle Paul); life is ot be passionately lived out, Christ offers us the Abundant (overflowing, overwhelming, more than you can handle) life that is to be LIVED, I need to say this again, LIFE needs to be LIVED. Paul says life is not about rules, about over-structure or about definition (Colossians 1 & 3)), God even instructs us to not define Him (Isaiah 55:9). How though, ok Biz you're talking about living the life abundantly and you have been for so long, but how do we find it for ourselves, well, I apologize for neglecting so long the HOW to live the abundant life. Well, here goes. We are the Body (Corinthians) which means we all have different roles, personalities and gifts to offer the Body, so that means we must discover, and the way we discover is to follow the advice of J.R.R. Tolkien (The Christian Writer of the "Lord of the Rings") and he said: "Not all who wander are lost." We must first start the journey, which takes the reality of getting bruised up quite possibly pretty badly, but the reward of living the life abundantly (not only in heaven) is much more than any scars earned, in fact they will enhance it. So, we must be willing to risk to live, we must realize that there is a risk and take it. Then, we must plead, not ask, ask assumes we deserve it, pleading makes us needy and that is a quality God is attracted to when listening (not saying He won't listen if we aren't, He will, always), so we must plea for Him to prepare us for the journey ahead and lead us through the mountains and valleys and storms and sunny days, and then as I have said before, SURRENDER to the MYSTERY. Surrender to the ABYSS that is God and jump. And I close with a line from a great movie by Disney "Tuck Everlasting". "Winnie, don't be afraid of death, be afraid of the (Abundant - my add) LIFE unlived!"