The Economy According to James

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." James 4:13-15

Yesterday my dad was summoned to the public counter at his work (for the City) where a man was waiting to speak to him. Several years ago, when construction in California looked like it couldn't get any better, he had decided to drastically expand his construction-related business and had started to build a new facility to accommodate that. Due to problems, mostly on the part of his architect, the building is still not off the ground and he has 250,000 dollars in cash into the project already. His permit expires on August 28 and he was asking my dad for advice.

You see, he was just diagnosed with cancer, and at best the doctors are giving him a 20% chance of survival. Twenty percent. He was asking my dad--should he go through with the project? Dad said that, as a City employee, he couldn't answer that question, but as a friend he would try. He then asked the man if he really wanted to risk so much with the (large) possibility that his widow would be left with a significant debt in an economy that is quickly spiraling downward for the construction element. He pointed to the very building he was standing in while they spoke as an example: less than two years ago our city was doing so well that they decided to build a large new city hall, on the assumption that the funds to pay for it would come from a minimum of 1,000 building permits pulled per year for the next twenty years. It sounded like a modest and achievable number at the time, but the economy has levelled off, and within the last two months combined the City has only taken in 20 building permits, and we're less than one full year into our promised twenty years....

The man went away with questions, forced by an illness that he could have never anticipated. The divinely-inspired James was right; our lives are a vapor. I am currently struggling in my mind to balance out proper planning and foresight so that it is neither unpreparedness nor presumption but a mix of both. What is that balance? And in what ways would I wish I had done things differently if I were to be given a twenty percent chance of living tomorrow?

"LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am." Ps. 39:4