Like a Vapor

by Andrew Palau

I remember reading about US Airways flight 1549 that ended up in the Hudson River and thinking, what a miracle! What a pilot! What must those people have thought during the process of crawling onto that wing? What must they have learned? To have come so close to death and walk away—how sweet life must taste to them now.

I’ll never have to wonder again. Eleven months later, I held my infant daughter in my arms and one son on my back while my wife and other son beside me crawled onto the wing of a 737, jumped to the ground, and stood on a sliver of beach in Jamaica. I was living out a similar scenario as Flight 1549, watching the plane my family and I had been in just a few moments earlier smolder, broken into three pieces.

In that moment, some big issues of life crystallized for me. More than ever before, I knew that God holds this world and everything that happens in it in His hand, both good and bad.

I understood at a new level that the most important things in life carry a deep significance, transcending and even enlivening the mundane routines of life. 

Perhaps the greatest realization I had on that beach was something I had heard a thousand times and thought I had a grasp on…that life really is fragile. We quickly can, and do, pass like a vapor. I knew it philosophically, but now I was changed.

What was I doing with that vapor? Which moments of the in-between section define us and point us toward real life, for now and eternity? 

I asked myself these questions, wondering if I was living a life that, if snuffed out in a plane crash, would leave a sweet aroma representative of what matters most. Had I done everything I could to bring people to Jesus—shared my story with the people who most needed to hear about God’s power? What else matters in this temporal world? Not much!

People are what matter to God. It was clearer than ever to me in that moment.

As children of God, we have news too great to not tell other people. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, you have the opportunity to speak. To tell those around you of God’s son, Jesus Christ. To tell of His great love, His suffering on the cross on our behalf, and His raising from the dead with power. That same power is available to us this day. What a gift!

As followers of Jesus, we often lack true, God-honoring confidence. I’m not talking about confidence in our own capacity. That isn’t of God. But instead, we need confidence in Him and His ability to work in and through us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2 is the summary I refer to almost daily. It reminds me of my calling in Christ.

The Bible tells us that we need to be bold in order to persevere in God’s plan for our lives. The Word of God takes much time to prepare us to face that fact. But for me, it took a little extra to make me think more soberly about the urgency of the situation and act more appropriately. Hebrews 10:39 says, “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

The great apostle Paul verifies this truth for himself. He begged for intercession on his own behalf, asking that fear and insecurity not threaten his faithfulness or keep him from doing what he was meant to do. Ephesians 6:19 reads, “Pray also for me that whenever I speak, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel.” If the Apostle Paul needed that prayer for victory over fears, how much more do I?

Don’t let the talents or strengths of others make you feel incapable. 

Don’t let the sporadic push back from those you share with intimidate you.

 The Lord knows that we will have challenges. He knows that our confidence will wax and wane. Christ came to us in part that we might know he identifies with us fully. 

Hebrews 11:1-39 tells us that triumph is a result of faith. And that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The author goes on to list example after example of triumph because of faith. Let’s remind ourselves and consider these examples seriously. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Could we be so bold as to ask God to add us to that list?

Just as God used each of these people in their brokenness, frailty, and fear, He can use you and me, if we are willing. And there is nothing greater we can do with our lives. Nothing will leave a more powerful legacy. Nothing is more sustainable than eternal life. There is no sweeter aroma than to lead people to the Savior. God does not promise us tomorrow. There’s not a moment to waste. 

Andrew Palau, Luis Palau

Andrew Palau (@andrew_palau) is an evangelist with the Luis Palau Association. He has shared the gospel with millions of people, and at every opportunity he demonstrates his father’s same passion and love for Christ and for evangelism.