Ash to ash, dust to dust

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I remember the first time I saw someone with ash on their forehead in observance of Ash Wednesday.

It was in college (that’s how denominationally aloof I was). It was a professor of mine, Dr. Dillon–great American History professor. [If you read this, Dr. Dillon, I fully regret not caring more about your courses…aging often speaks its own rebuke.]

I thought it strange, though, the ash. Messy and unnecessary. Uncivilized perhaps.

I thought myself as somehow beyond such ancient practices.

I also grew up a little during college, and a bit more since.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I need that reminder.

The psalmist captures it in a hauntingly beautiful fashion: Psalm 39:5 “Lord, let me know my end and the number of my days, so that I may know how short my life is.”

Microscopic organisms and Mack Trucks and malignant tumors are no respecters of persons.

It’s going to end.

Life, that is.

When is the variable, not if.

Ash to ash, dust to dust…

For what or whom are you living? Spiritual or not, everyone has to answer.

Do you live for what you get more of when you die? If so, you could say, like St. Paul, “to live is Christ; to die is gain.”



What if Wednesday: What if You Died Today?

That’s not a fun question is it? But what if…

What would people think? “Thank God he’s gone!” “She’s going to be missed by many.”

What would God say when you stared him in the face (whatever that face is)?”Well done.” “I never knew you.”

What legacy would you leave? “Xbox 360 champion.” “Servant of the least of these.” “Devoted mother and wife.”

What mark would you leave? “Wealthy but stingy.” “Poor but generous.” “Selfless to the end.” “Unceasing worshiper.” “Joyful in all circumstances.”

What would you regret? “I didn’t spend enough time loving my wife.” “I didn’t serve others enough.” “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

It’s that last question I want to spend more time contemplating and then, in a sense, reverse engineer my life so that I don’t have those regrets. Jonathan Edwards created a list of resolutions (I’d encourage you to read them) that he would review weekly. He was intentional in the way he surveyed his life–and the fruit of such intentionality is evident.

What would you regret at this point?