I am in my 50s now and very aware that I probably have fewer years left than I have lived. I pay attention to how old people are when I hear of their deaths and compare that to my own age.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
There are many pastors who want to add something to those words like “Remember that God loves you and forgives you”. Well yes he does but this body is still going to return to dust. It is only because of God’s love and forgiveness that I have a chance of something beyond this dusty life, but dust is where I am destined.
Christianity today is very influenced by ancient Greek philosophy which said we are all immortal souls trapped in bodies on earth. “I am just a stranger here, heaven is my home”
Well the bible says something a little different. Heaven is not our home, earth is our home. God created us out of the earth and placed on the earth. Our bodies are designed to live on earth, not in heaven. We do not become angels when we die; we go to the dust when we die.
Of course like most other Christians, I long for something more than this broken, lost and often unkind world. But rather than a promise of an escape from this earth, the great biblical Christian hope is a redeemed world, not an escape from the world. We hope for resurrected bodies, not escape from our bodies.
I am made from and for this world and yet I will not be in this world forever. I try to let this truth give me perspective. So that I enjoy and care for and give thanks for all the worldly blessings I have. So that I do what God has given me to do so that others benefit more in this world from this world. But that I don’t cling to the things of this world so tightly that I lose trust in God to bring me to something better.
And so when those ashes are rubbed on my forehead, I need no other words to give me both humility and hope –
“Remember you are dust and dust you shall return.