Christian Living

Spiritual Life

You Are a Vapor

“You are just a vapor” James 4:14 NASB

If a person survives a massive stroke, they learn a lot. During the stroke, the mind no longer works; instead of thoughts and questions there is only a blank, a void and the body is disconnected. A doctor recently asked me if I was afraid when I was blank and without the ability to move or think. I answered that I wasn’t afraid as you can’t feel or think anything when you experience the reality of what we actually are essentially and what we will all experience someday. Almighty God in James 4:14a-15 NASB tells each of us: “You are just a vapor; you appear for a little while and then you disappear. We should say that we live and will do this and that if it be God’s will.”

After the surgical teams removed a large blood clot from my brain by means of a tube that ran from my groin, I began to come back although I was still mainly blank for a many days afterwards.

I can’t tell you how glad I am to be able to share this experience with you. My journey, which included blood spitting pneumonia, a massive stroke, and then an invasive pulmonary embolism was called “a death sentence that was given a miraculous reprieve” by a number of people, including several of my doctors. One attending doctor told me: “Bob, I have filled out many death certificates for either embolisms or massive strokes by themselves. You have had a miracle.”

I look at life and living differently now that I’ve experienced being a vapor for a while.

Actually, I never understood Psalm 23 even though it has been a favorite for years. Experiencing walking through the valley of the shadow of death is a different experience than just quoting words about it. 

The only thing that I could sense in the valley was the presence of the Shepherd, but I couldn’t think about Him or talk to Him as I was blank. How can you describe being a vapor when you are one? Now, that words and thoughts have returned, the best I can share is that in the valley: life, details, decisions, competition, traffic etc. are all just vapors without lasting substance. They were discovered to be mere smoke.

My near death experience was very interesting. I look back on it with the words: interesting experience, sweet peace, joy, victory.

When our heart stops, we don’t hear our lungs swish or our hearts beat. We can be afraid of the unknown or grateful that the Lord is our Shepherd and that we are not alone. I experienced a beautiful quiet stillness that had been there all along. I didn’t want to leave that beauty. It was a time that I experienced freedom from my body’s constant sounds and needs for the first time. But I am glad that I came back so that I didn’t leave my angel wife alone, or my family to grieve.

Being able to smell fresh breezes off the mountain behind our home and watch it stir my beloved palm trees is a first time feeling.

We will all find out someday that we were actually vapors all along when our earth-bound life disappears. We will arrive at the rent-free retirement home our Shepherd has prepared for each of His sheep, who He calls by name. Thankfully, we don’t have to save up for emergency plane fare.

Copyright © 2017 Bob Segress, PhD. Used by permission.

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