By Stephen Leonard
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16
God said to us all, “You are dust, and to dust, you will return.” The finest skin creams do not do much for dust. A face-lift doesn’t remove any wrinkles once your face becomes dirt. Think of all the billions of people who have lived before you. Their wonderful bodies are now but dust. If you are alive today, such a thought is hard to grasp, simply because we do not dwell on this inevitable return to dust; only on what is now.
Your return is near. The brevity of life is a fact. “All men are grass, like a flower of the field they bloom in morning, are gone at evening.” In the big picture, this is accurate. We see brevity all around us. People are gone before their time. Babies, children die. The 42 year old man collapses with a heart attack. The 55 year old woman is crushed in a car accident. In any case, most who survive the first four score years are gone soon after.
We have to really think about it, but our lives really are quite short. Do we live differently based on that truth? Not many do, because they seldom focus on life’s brevity. They need reminders that penetrate their minds, which live more in the now.
Reminders take many forms. The ashes on the forehead from an Ash Wednesday yesterday are meant to be a reminder to many of life’s brevity, of your sin, of the need you have of redemption, of Jesus’ sacrifice to provide you the opposite destiny than one of mere ashes.
The Church Year was developed to be a help, a regular reminder to the believer as he pursues sanctification. To think often of Jesus’ birth, years of ministry, suffering more than His crucifixion, His death, resurrection, and ascension are far superior to just living without any Christ-focused thinking in a secular society. It is more spiritually thoughtful than merely celebrating Christmas and Easter, if that. There is far more to meditate on in Jesus’ ministry alone than two major holidays of birth and death and resurrection, especially in our non-faith culture.
What are your reminders that this life will soon pass, that what’s done for Christ will last? Ashes on your forehead, possibly once a year, for just one small thing, can be useful to remind you and those you see that “dust day” is coming for everyone. Make the most of your “non-dust” days. Do the things that are truly eternal. Make sure you are making continuous deposits into your “eternity account.” For “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; earth’s joys grow dim, it’s glories pass away; change and decay in all around I see; O thou who changes not, abide with me.”
(2nd verse of Henry Lyte’s hymn, “Abide with Me,” 1847)