The elusive steam which squeals eagerly from a boiling kettle. The shawls of mist resting on the shoulderblades of mountains in the dreamlike moments before dawn. The silhouette of words spoken into the chilled dusk.

They are seen for but a moment, before scurrying away into a place beyond sight. They do not cease to exist, but rather they are changed. But that moment is precious, irrevocable, fleeting. Because in that breath of a moment, these otherwise insignificant and inconsequential particles refract light in a way that lends colour and beauty and joy to the rest of creation. How much less fun would it be to jitter in the bitter cold waiting for a train to come or a bakery to open if there were no circles or dragon’s breath to puff up into the air from your lips?

There was a season a while ago when I became acutely aware that this characterised the human life on earth. We are but a breath! Life slips between the fingertips, eluding the grasp of those who try to hold onto a moment – it just rushes on, second by second, breath by breath.

In the face of that (potentially depressing) impermanence, one can either turn to despair or hedonism or a frantic rush to impress a legacy. Or a combination of all three.

I have much to say about that season, but that is not for now. What I will say, is that it brought me through all of those sentiments, of freneticism and fear, and into a place of deep stillness and joy.

Because hope changes everything.

There is a conviction settled in the deepest part of my self that when the trumpets sound and the bright man with a sword and a tat on his thigh appears, all that is vapour will be made new. In the twinkling of an eye. Like the particles that appear as steam from a kettle endure although they have vanished from sight, death is not the cessation of this heart or mind or body. When that bright man appears, we will see him and be changed. All that decays will be clothed with imperishability. The vapour will no longer be characterised by brevity! It will be eternal!

This means that the vapour can delight in being fleeting for now. Just as the particles that refract the dawn into a thousand colours magnify the beauty of the sun, so too a human life can refract the glory of the One who made them – in a joyful celebration of His beauty and all satisfying relationship. The brevity of their fleeting existence is not without meaning; it can offer itself as a stroke of colour on the canvas, a quaver of joy in the melody, a scribbled noun in the narrative of history.

What magnificence! The redemption of the pitifully insignificant into eternally profound significance; of the trivially impermanent into pure and stunning permanence.

This is why my life is a joyful vapour. I breathe more deeply and think more fully and feel more keenly; because I do life with the life-giver. Dwelling in Jesus means that the life I will live in eternity has already started – that relationship will never be severed. Not even by death.

I just pray that I can leverage this breath I have been given for that which is true, eternal and worthy.