The dust He loves


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“Mommy?”
The inquisitive voice said from the back seat.
“Yes, baby?” I have become quite accustomed to her starting a myriad of questions this way. They usually vary from deep: something like “why does God send people to hell if He loves everyone?” and…slightly less deep: “Why does Anna look at Elsa that way in Frozen when Elsa is frozening things…you know…before Olaf comes in…after he counts?” Either way she often leaves me sputtering, especially when my mind is else where.
“Mommy, is God still making people out of dust and dirt these days?”
I almost put on the brakes right there, and sat, and cried.
I knew what she meant, so I told her “no. God grows people inside mommy’s tummies now.”
“But He still makes them from nothing? Or does He make them from dust and dirt and then put them inside the mommy to grow?”
“Yeah, that is basically it, baby.”

I knew what she meant. So I told her “No, God doesn’t still make people from dust and dirt.” But while I was telling her “no”, I felt the Spirit telling me “yes. Yes, God still makes people out of dust…and to dust they will return.” And for some reason it resonated with me. Through me. It shook me almost to the point of instant tears. And I found myself wondering why I would have such a strong reaction.

I am sure it has something to do with how often the brevity and fragility of life has been thrown in my face lately. It may also have something to do with the fact that try as I might I cannot yet find a way to be truly happy with how quickly time passes, and moments, and people that slip away. As I answered her I was immediately reminded of the curse brought on the human race, stemming from Adam’s sin.

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Genesis 3:17-19

It made me shudder. Not because I am scared of death. Not because I don’t want to die. Actually fairly often I moan to Peter that I just want everyone I love to be in heaven, like right now. That I just want to be in Jesus’ arms. I often pray for the rapture. I know it makes me sound looney. That is okay. I kinda am…looney that is. Peter is used to me and my slight craziness. He thinks I get a little melodramatic…”emo” even. But sometimes life hurts. Sometimes it hurts bad. So no, I am not afraid of death. I long for Heaven. What I am fighting against (and to no avail) is earthly time. Why does it go so darn fast?

In the Fall Hayleigh will begin Kindergarten, full day Kindergarten. I am less than thrilled say the least. Actually I am dreading it. But don’t worry. I am lying through my teeth telling her how excited I am for her. That’s what a good mom would do, right?

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I picture going to wake her up that morning. (In all actuality it will be she that wakes me up before the sun, jumping to go-go-go, but pretend with me for a moment that I am one of those moms who actually wakes up before my kids and rouses them in each morning with a sweet whisper and a soft kiss on the cheek while the smell of a warm breakfast wafts up the stairs.) I imagine myself urging her for the first time of many (pre-school doesn’t count) “Wake up, Hayleigh-Girl. It is time to get ready for school”. I am sure before I wake her I will sit in the silence for a moment and watch her sleep. She still looks like my baby all curled up with her bunny blanket, her rosy cheeks and her hair strewn behind her and over her face. I will want to let this moment stand still. Because I will know, the moment I wake her she will enter a new world. Until this point she has belonged to just me and her Daddy. We have taught her. We had read to her. We have comforted her. We have fed her. We have cuddled her. Once I wake her she crosses a threshold. She begins to climb a long ladder. The ladder of education that she does not see the end of yet. Once I wake her I know that I have to give a little bit of her away. Someone else, and over the years many someone elses, will teach her, and comfort her and mold her. By waking her, by taking her down the street to Kindergarten, I am giving up a little bit of her. Not a lot, I know. But a little. So I imagine I will linger, and let the silence comfort and stir me. But then I will wake her. With a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. Because I will know it is time. I will know it is right and best. But I will know that I am giving up little pieces of her bit by bit. And although it may be right and best, it will still hurt a little….or a lot. Remember: I am melodramatic.

I have been thinking about giving her up, about letting pieces of her go. And I am reminded of this verse:
 
“What then shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own son,
but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also, along with him
graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:31-32

I am not claiming, even for a second, that Hayleigh growing up and entering school is the same thing as God sacrificing His Son Jesus in my place. I will leave Hayleigh in the hands of a capable, kind teacher who will be ready to guide her, teach her and wipe her tears. God sent Jesus  into the hands of those he knew would misunderstand him ,spit on him, ridicule him, beat him, and brutally kill him. When I send Hayleigh to school we both know that if she needs me I will be there in a moment. God knew He would turn his face from his son, that he would not be able to look at Jesus hanging there, dying, covered in our sin. Although the angels were in heaven poised for the word, God would not speak it. Though his son cried out to him in agony, he would receive no comfort from God’s hand. God would let his son die, the son he loved. The son He proclaimed with a chorus of angels. The son he opened up the heavens for at his baptism. The son he comforted in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. No, they are not even close to being the same thing. But I wonder if the ache I feel is even a teeny- tiny bit the same as what God felt giving up His son. I am “giving Hayleigh up” for her betterment. God gave Jesus up for ours, for mine, for us dust.

When I start wondering if God cares about me, what I am going through, I just have to look to Calvary. Yes, I am dust. He made me from dust and to dust I will return. How much more awesome does that make my salvation?! I am but dust. I could not accomplish anything on my own. I needed a Savior. And out of His great love, and for His great glory God sent  one. He redeemed the dust. He redeemed me. The very God who breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7), the very God who “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust” (Job 34:14-15), that very same God chose to give up His son to rescue me.

And He hasn’t forgotten me.

“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children
 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.”
Psalm 103:13-18

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 
 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16

That is Easter. Easter is the “therefore” I live by.

These thoughts are what I am meditating on this week. I am embracing the brevity of life, the fragility of life. I am embracing how frail and feeble I am. I am embracing that I am but dust. It puts things into perspective. It causes things to make sense (and not just the dust accumulating in the corners and crevices of my house). Knowing I am dust makes Easter so much more meaningful. It makes His love that much more powerful. It makes His sacrifice that much more nonsensical. It makes His victory that much more essential. It makes my heart rejoice that much more. And knowing He remembers that I am dust, that he calls me, the dust, to approach His throne with confidence , makes everyday that much more joy-filled. It is all the difference.

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