Dust

img_0564Has dust begun to collect in the once vibrant corners of your life?

I was asked to prepare a devotion for a denominational meeting, which was going to be held this morning. The event was cancelled due to the “cold” weather. If you do not know anything about South Carolina, the state shuts down if the temperature drops below 45 degrees – Smiling faces, beautiful places…but we don’t do cold.

Not wanting this word to go unspoken, I thought I would spend some time writing on this wet and chilly day…although, this is the perfect weather to cook some collards.

I arrived the other morning at my office and saw a familiar car parked outside of our fellowship hall. The car belonged to one of the ladies of our church. It was not unusual for her to be at the church in the middle of the week, but I was not sure why she would be there so early on a Monday morning.

I walked across the street from my office and I entered the fellowship hall. My parishioner was standing in the kitchen. Her hair was not done; she had no make-up on her face; and, she was wearing her work clothes. When I inquired, she informed me the ladies of the church would be gathering that evening to clean the kitchen. She had come early to work on the ovens and to get the kitchen ready for cleaning.

Our kitchen was dirty. Our kitchen had become disorganized. Once ordered, the kitchen had become a little chaotic. Apparently, dust had begun to collect in our kitchen and it needed to be cleaned. And, I am grateful to have these ladies in our church, who are willing to care for our facility…

I started thinking, though. The kitchen is not the only place in our church where dust has begun to collect. Dust has begun to collect in some of our Sunday School classrooms. Dust has begun to collect in our music room and choir loft. Dust has begun to collect in some of our pews. Come to think of it, dust has begun to collect in the once vibrant corners of our church.

Maybe our church is not alone. Maybe dust has begun to collect in some of your churches. Honestly, now that I am thinking about it, maybe this dust has also begun to collect in some of the once vibrant corners of our lives, as well. Dust has covered over the passion, excitement, and vitality of particular relationships, our jobs, meaningful hobbies.

For some of us, this dust has settled upon our faith…

And, this dust is suffocating.

My mother kept a tidy house. Dust was her sworn enemy. She waged war against dust – the dust that collected on the tables, the lamps, the fan blades, the blinds. Any dust, anywhere, must be removed!

My negative view of dust likely stems from my mother’s war against dust. But, maybe, dust is not so bad. Maybe the collection of dust is not a sign of mortality. Maybe the collection of dust signals the potential for vitality!

The Yahwist tradition offers a beautiful image of creation. The tradition teaches, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7) The man is known to us as Adam, which is simply the Hebrew word for “man” or “human.” The Hebrew word for ground is adamah. Adam, or man, comes from adamah, or ground. God takes the dust of adamah into God’s hands. God embraces the dust. God shapes the dust. God forms the dust. God perfects the dust.  The Yahwist tradition’s teaching of man’s creation is beautiful because it shows the intentionality and the precision of God’s creativity.

God’s formation of the dust produces a pretty thing, but it is only that: another pretty thing in a pretty new world. The moment this pretty thing becomes beautiful is when God breathes the breath of life into this reformed dust. The breath of God gave life to this dust; the breath of God brought beauty to this dust.

One of the most powerful songs I have ever heard is “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. Take a moment to listen to this incredible song.

The chorus of this song is particularly telling: “You make beautiful things out of the dust; you make beautiful things out of us.”

God does make beautiful things out of the dust; and, God can certainly make beautiful things out of us. Not pretty things; beautiful things. We are meant to be beautiful. God intends for us to be beautiful. Our beauty comes only when God breathes the breath of the Holy Spirit into us. Our beauty comes only when God breathes the breath of the Holy Spirit into the dust covering our life.

Whether it be the dust collecting around your church (as I was going to tell our denominational leaders this morning) or the dust collecting around the once vibrant areas of our life, let us be encouraged! God does unimaginable and immeasurable things with dust. God breathes life into dust. God makes beautiful things out of the dust. God makes beautiful things out of us.

My friends, let us not wipe, sweep, or brush the dust away. Let us ask God to breathe the life of the Holy Spirit into us. Let us be beautiful.

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