An audio reading of the essay is included above for your convenience.
SUMMARY: We live in a Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) culture… So there’s an audio reading included for you. This essay intends to show you the following:
Adam was formed from the dust. From dust we came and to dust we will return. So why then is your prayer life, parenting, and bible covered in dust?
Ghosts, Death and Dust
Christmas has passed, but let’s take a second to consider the past, present, and future. Have you ever given any thought to them? Charles Dickens gives us a helpful model. The ghost of Christmas future in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a grievous, grim figure with a silent ghoulish grasp. A horrifying apparition of the cosmic future for the unbeliever. Dickens reminds us that the future brings death a step closer for all that live. Death looms for every man. Though we push it from our minds and fight against it- the squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinners that we are; death remains a future reality. If you need a reminder of this, look around you at the motes of dust dancing through the light in your window or in your car as you drive.
Dust, the future clothing of the damned. Even now, in the sunlight I sweep some off my computer. A gentle breeze carries it aloft. Sweep the top of your books on the bookshelf and look at your hands. Dust is a reminder of decomposition and decay. The entropy of the earth under the curse. A reminder of what our bodies return to at death until the judgment. Dust begins to coat everything, and we contribute to it daily by being alive. But it’s important to remember we came from dust. Our first parent, Adam, was formed from the dust of the ground. Then came the curse.
Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
So then, why? Why the dust on your bible? When’s the last time you picked it up? I have a bible on my phone, you say. Wonderful, the metaphorical digital dust of disuse accumulates there as well. The dust accumulates on your prayer life. It accumulates on your family worship time. It coats like the mulch of death. A reminder that death is the fruit that grows for many in this life.
So, o reader or listener, where does the dust of disuse accumulate in the infanthood of this year? The specter of a grim future’s hand is outstretched. The cosmic silence of the grave. The deep blackness of a night filled with void. The horror that every unregenerate man faces at the specter of the calling cosmos. When you consider what you are doing, who are you honoring? What are you honoring? Do you serve someone? Is it you? Is it someone else? Is it a god? Is it the One True Triune God of Scripture?
This is no existential crisis for the believer. Let it be known, the Word of God is not to be left in disuse. It is shameful if it is. Prayer is not to be neglected. It is shameful if it is. Is there a dimness to the light of your life? Is Christ exalted as Prophet, Priest, and King; your very mediator? Is Christ an accessory? Is He a worthless bumper sticker tacked onto some political and philosophical conclusions? The atheist is convinced of this.
The atheist, blind and dead in his heart of hearts, remains unconvinced even by the miraculous. He is a slave to every second he has. He longs to fill his belly like the ghost of Christmas present. A man filled to the brim with emptiness. His accumulated horde conceals ignorance and want. He is a fool. A raging, wrathful man who truly believes you only live once and fears missing out. He fills the present to hide the secret longings of his past and the terror of his future. A son of Adam toiling in the truest since among the thorns of his useless works. The thorns that torture him remain a torment, a worthless entropic endeavor with no eternal value. The false convert continues to store up wrath in his ignorance and want as well. So also it is with the humanist. That emptiness spills out in vanity in the present, and regret, longing, and nostalgia for the past. Somewhere the ideal world remains firmly planted somewhere opposite to the flow of time. A full stomach that still wants more. Unsatisfied with his feast of folly in the present. Amidst the feast of folly the thorns and thistles grow around the stone that is his heart. Unable and unwilling to turn to the King of Kings.
The YOLO man, the FOMO man. He is the lustful and lazy man who dwells as a ghost in the present.
The New Year and The Future
Future life breathed into the dust of man. Christ and the crown of thorns.
A new year. More dust. We must see the mulch clearly. The dust of death that clings and entangles like so many worthless works done in sin. The fruit of death and the fruit of life. The dust, sweat, and toil of Adam. Or, the body, blood, and works of Christ. Which is your master in all things?
The first Adam. Man, who was made of dust. The very breath of God breathed life into a formed man that had none. He ate the fruit of his disobedience and fell. By his headship and works, he failed. He is cursed to return to the dust and bring forth the bread to eat by suffering in thorns and thistles. Going forth clothed by God’s grace in shame. A fleeting flurry of forbidden fruit.
The second Adam. Christ. Truly God. Truly Man. Incarnate Son of God. Second Person of the Trinity. The very eternal Son of God incarnate. He is the fruit of his own obedience and redeems and restores his people. By His headship and works, He rose victorious for His People. He became a curse to raise from the grave and bring forth the bread of life wearing a crown of thorns that became a crown of glory and splendor. To the cross clothed in our shame, from the cross an eternal victor.
Christ’s blood spilled in the dust to redeem from the curse of death.
Christ’s crown of thorns, a crown of our sinful works that held him on that cross.
He is the way, the truth, and the life. The very bread of life.
He freely redeems his people by breathing life into the dusty cosmic curse of death. From the mulch of the curse bursts forth the life of the cross. When we see the dust may we remember the future promise of Christ. The entropic reminder of eternity and our eternal father strong to save. May we remember the resurrection and consummation of the kingdom. When we live now may we not have folly feasts, but jolly feasts. May we look for the bursting forth of the Kingdom of God, and Christ the King in everything. When we look to the past may we see the shadow of the Cross sheltering us from the holy wrath of God and the Curse itself. May we learn contentment and fruitful works in all we do. Fearing not the face of man, for he is an image bearer, but an image of stone without the life of the gospel.
So then, may your bible not accumulate dust in this New Year, regardless of what it holds. May your prayer life grow. May your heart burst forth in joyous life, grateful for the gracious gift of God to you. The merciful Prophet, Priest, and King- past, present, and future.
Fear not the images of ghosts, whether past, present or future. For Christ is King and he redeems the whole man.