“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.” (Psalm 103:13-14)
Some translations say “He knows our frame” – which makes perfect sense because He is the One who formed my frame in the first place – He knows full well what I am made of, which apparently is dust.
“the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
So the fact that I’ve been feeling a little dusty lately, shouldn’t really be all that surprising to me. It’s true. I’m feeling a little dusty these days – weak, fragile, crumbling, falling apart – like any puff of wind, or even a gentle breeze might blow me away at any moment – into a million pieces, disintegrated and dispersed by that same wind across the air to a million different places. (this gives new meaning to the phrase “being spread too thin”)
I dare not take the advice of the age old saying, “pick yourself up and dust yourself off.” If I dusted myself off, I would dust myself into invisibility, being wholly made of dust and all. There would be nothing left. Dust is easily dispersed because there is nothing holding it together. Must be why I’ve been feeling particularly parched lately, as well. A little water would do wonders for my dusty self right about now. In fact, water turns dust into soil and soil is something substantial – strong enough to hold roots and grow life.
Well watered soil isn’t blown every which way like dust is. But where can I find enough water to turn the dusty desert that is me into well watered, substantial, life supporting soil and keep it that way? I find the answer contained in a conversation Jesus had one day at a well where He spoke with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water. We pick up their conversation here –
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ” (John 4:13-14)
This sounds like the answer to my dustiness problem. Water would definitely help me hold it together or more aptly, hold myself together, instead of being blown apart and blown away by every breeze and every windy storm in life. I really want to hold it together and stand firm, but these are tough times we live in, capable of turning anyone into dust if they don’t have access to water to refresh and sustain themselves. But Jesus tells me that I do have access – I have access to Him twenty-four/seven and He is the Living Water.
Jesus is the reason I don’t need to worry about falling apart and being blown away like the desert dust that I am. Colossians 1:15-17 tells me this about Jesus –
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
It is that last line I find especially reassuring – “in Him all things hold together.” I’m so glad that “all things” includes me! My Heavenly Father “remembers that I am dust” and because He knows I am dust, He, Himself holds me together. He knows that I can’t hold myself together. I need His living water.
What is really unexpected is that even though I am formed from “the dust of the ground,” something considered so ordinary, I am “wonderfully and fearfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Only God can make something living and wonderful out of dead dust. But He did and He does. He made human beings and He made us in His image. It’s what God put inside of us that makes all the difference. Genesis 2:7 tells us God “breathed the breath of life into the man and the man became a living being.”
And that’s not all. God puts something else within us humans that brings us to life, just like when God breathed that first breath into Adam. God fills us with His Holy Spirit, if we ask Him to do this. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:7 –
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Our bodies are the jars of clay or earthen vessels, as another translation says, and the treasure is God’s Holy Spirit. This is not what we do. We tend to put our “treasures”, namely anything expensive that we value, in special places. We have ornate china cabinets to display prized dishes and fancy jewelry boxes in which we keep our most precious jewelry. We keep valuable art in museums, behind glass, in climate-controlled rooms. But God allows us to be the containers and carriers of Himself, ensuring His presence with us and in the world.
Imagine it. The eternal carried inside the temporal. The sacred dwelling within the sinful. The infinite taking up residence within the finite. That’s us! That’s you and that’s me. We are jars of clay carrying God’s gift of His Holy Spirit within us. Unfathomable! But He formed us for just such a purpose – that we would become carriers of His divine light into this dark world.
Can you believe it? What was God thinking? – making us out of dust and then expecting us to be suitable carriers of the Divine? Yes, it’s surprising to realize that when God was fashioning you and me out of the earth’s dust, He was forming us to be the receptacles of His presence! That was His intention all along. You would think He would have chosen a better medium than dirt – gold or silver, precious gem stones, something impressive befitting His majesty. But He chose earth as we are from the Earth.
Interesting that clay is a type of soil. So “jars of clay” and “earthen vessels” are the same thing. When the Bible talks about us being the clay and our Creator God being the Potter, it connects each of us with the original creation of the human race, where God forms and fashions us with His own hands, making us lovingly in His image. Our creation was deeply personal. God didn’t just speak us into existence – He labored over us as the potter labors over the clay, until the desired result was achieved.
Perfection! Until sin entered into the picture. Clay can get really dusty when it begins to dry out. It disintegrates and disperses in millions of particles of dust unless water can be found to once again make the clay soft and malleable, all those particles holding together so the Potter can work His will on the clay and bring about something beautiful. If we get separated from the Living Water Jesus offers us, we dry out, turn to dust and the wind blows us wherever it will.
But God remembers that we are dust and He continues to water us so that we will not blow away but hold together in His hands, giving Him the opportunity to continue to form and fashion us in the image of His Son, Jesus. When I’m feeling a little too dusty, as if I’m turning into dust and falling apart, I need to remember that my Heavenly Father will supply me with His living water. This will restore me as He continues to work His good and perfect and pleasing will in my life in spite of all the dust. I’m under constant construction, and as we all know, construction sites are full of dust, as are potters’ studios. But when the dust settles, something beautiful is revealed.
So will it be for those in the Potter’s hands. If my life is a little dusty right now, God will send rain to settle the dust and hold together my soil/clay so that He can continue working on me until I am conformed to the image of Christ. Until the day comes that Ecclesiastes speaks of saying –
“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) This is also what God told Adam in Genesis 3:19 when He said –
“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.”
However, that is NOT the end of the story. BUT GOD! (and you thought this wasn’t even a BUT GOD post) God has other plans for you and for me.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies (those jars of clay/earthen vessels) so that they will be like His glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
quick confession – I added the words in parenthesis above.
So I will no longer have a dust problem, no longer have to worry about crumbling away, drying up or drying out – God will sustain my physical body until I no longer need it and then I get to, we all get to, trade up for a better model!
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42–44)
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ” (Revelation 21:5)
Thank You, Lord, for my dusty earthly body, perfectly formed and fashioned by You and perfectly made for life on this earth. Thank You, too, for the promise of that new and imperishable body You have purposed for me when the time comes that I shall need it. In the meantime, please water my dust and continue the good work You began in me, because only You can bring this work to completion. Yours alone is the vision and the power to bring it to pass.
sincerely, Grace Day