Dust and Ashes in a New Light

The weirdest thing has been in my thoughts lately. Dust. Dust can be made of many things. Those little particles that float through the air when the sun shines through your window. The film the Swiffer picks up when I, not often enough, run it over the surfaces of window sills and furniture. The clouds that raise up behind my car on a country road and settle on the dashboard.

 

For something that seems pretty insignificant, it is where we came from and where we will return. Reflecting on “Ash Wednesday.” A day observed by many churches for centuries. The Wednesday that starts the forty days before Easter or Resurrection Sunday. The forty days to remember Jesus, in a more dedicated, concentrated way, remembering His life, His sacrifice. Ash Wednesday brings in the season of Lent. Here we go again, isn’t lint, l – i – n – t also what can be found in dust? Weird, huh?

The churches I grew up in thought wearing ash on your forehead was just for the our Catholic friends. The practice of Lent was for the fish-on-Friday folks. Those that had no choice but to order the “Lenten” specials at restaurants. Like giving up red meat one day a week made you more holy. I didn’t practice it but I thought it was kind of cool that there were believers that would suffer a little bit for their faith.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” Psalm 103:14

Genesis 2:7 says “…the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground…” and goes on in 3:14 to say to the serpent “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” This verse makes me think of how Satan prowls around seeking who he can kill, steal from and destroy. After we fell by obeying that serpent in the Garden of Eden, God goes on in Genesis 3:19, “…for dust you are, and to dust shall you return.” From then on, this physical body starts to die the minute it is born. There is a limit to our days here.  The only way we will not end up “dust” is if the Lord Jesus returns for His church, the Christians who have accepted Him as Savior, before they physically die. This is the promise of our Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17. 

The great Patriarch Abraham said to God in Genesis 18:27, “…”Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:” Job says to God in 42:6, “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” By definition to abhor is to regard something with extreme repugnance or aversion, to detest it utterly, loathe it.

I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but I also know I am selfish and forgetful. The only good in me is the redeemed part where Jesus has made me new. Yet I still carry the old and will until that glorious day. The day my body is finally and completely redeemed. When He returns for me or when I go back to dust. “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body.”  Romans 8: 22-23

“As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103: 15-16

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So remembering the dust and the ashes is a good thing. Remembering, before we return to them. Remembering for forty days that we are lint, during Lent can cause us to grow in the Spirit. To see and recognize the heart work that needs to be done. Would we ever repent, truly turn from our sins, if we were not reminded that they are to be abhorred as Job wrote. I’ve heard it said by several well-meaning Bible teachers: “sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.” 

In these weeks before Easter, let’s ask God to show us where we are and where He wants us to be. Could this be the Easter we rise with Him into a newness of faith? Dusted off and shining with His Glory.

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