“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiates 3:20
I don’t love cleaning the house. It is something I find mundane and ordinary. It involves expending energy I would love to apply elsewhere. Usually I can come up with a million excuses to procrastinate cleaning the house. It seems to find its way to the lowest place on my list of things to do.
Possibly this is because cleaning tends to involve eliminating dust, or at least moving it around. It seems that dust accumulates fairly quickly in the spaces of my life. Where there isn’t matter, a material thing, filling the space, dust will gladly come and take up the space. It is something that often obscures the clarity and beauty of that which is underneath it. It makes things look hazy and less defined. And so I see dust as something to be removed and discarded as non-essential. Yet, there seems to be a never-ending supply of it floating around, just waiting for some untended space to reveal itself. Dust is incredibly ordinary and incredibly abundant in my life. It is part of the earthly existence that confronts me daily.
I am reminded by the words of the writer of Ecclesiates of the fact that I was formed from dust. This is not necessarily the way I want to define myself. It is far less dignified, important or significant than I like to imagine. This reminder from Ecclesiastes echoes what God says in Genesis 3:19 to the first human beings after their choice to eat the forbidden fruit; “for dust you are and to dust you will return”.
With this in mind, here are three simple observations. First, I have a fundamental connection to the ground, this earth, that I can’t deny. Second, since dust is the seemingly the most ordinary of substances, I must realize I come from humble origins. And finally, dust is animated and elevated by what God, the creator, does with it.
It takes someone transcendent to enable the dust to transcend its humble origins, and yet I can spend a great deal of time attempting to better myself, my circumstances and my legacy on this earth. In Ecclesiates 3:11 it says, “He has also set eternity in the human heart”. God has taken the dust, breathed into it the breath of life and set eternity in the heart of humanity. It is the human condition to aspire to more than our temporal existence. But the reality is that nothing of this temporal existence will satisfy that longing for more. The cycle of dust remains. Though I long to be more than dust it seems that the fate of my life is to return to dust. If there is hope to rise above and beyond this cycle it will have to come from beyond this earth.
When Paul, in the book of Philippians 2 describes Jesus Christ he says that Jesus left the place of glory with God the Father and clothed Himself with humanity. He chose to transcend the space between glory and dust so that the dust of our existence might be transformed into glory. He took on the ordinariness of our humanity so that we might in turn through His life, death and resurrection, be raised up as glorious and eternal children of God.
The only way to experience His work of transcendent transformation is to embrace our humanity with humility and receive the gift offered in His life given in love for us. Every day the longing and aspiration to be more can only be satisfied by connecting with the one who has come with the breath of eternity to fill our souls. Only as we breathe from the atmosphere of the transcendent Kingdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ can we be eternally animated and transcend the dust that has defined us. We are dust and will return to dust, but that need not be the end. This dust, the humanity of my life can become more in Jesus Christ whose origins are in glory and who will transform the humble state of my life from glory into ever increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3). Jesus has humbled Himself that I might be raised up to new and eternal life. It is the gracious gift of a loving God. As you consider this day imagine for a moment the great and glorious revelation of Jesus as He humbly and fully enters and identifies with our humanity to raise us from the dust of death and lead us into the dignity of a new creation formed in Christ. It is in following His way of humility that we discover the true gift of a renewed humanity. May you be blessed as you journey with Him.Here is a song for reflection as you journey with Jesus in His grace and glory.