For dust you are and to dust you will return.
- God, speaking to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:19
I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes.
- Abraham, in Genesis 18:27
The scripture speaks often about people repenting in dust and ashes in the Old Testament - it’s a picture of them recognizing that they were limited; they were not God; they could not rescue themselves. Twice in the scriptures it says that we were born from the dust and to the dust we will return. Again, this is a great reminder of our limitations, our humanity, our mortality. While it’s so easy for us to curse our dust and ashes, our limitations and humanity, that’s not what Jesus does. Instead, he dignifies our humanity by becoming ‘of the dust’ just like us. He walked this dusty earth to guarantee we knew our God understands us and loves us right where we are, because he’s been here with us in the flesh.
On Ash Wednesday, traditionally we receive ashes on the forehead in the sign of the cross to remember that our truest identity is neither in our brokenness nor even in our beauty, but in our belovedness.
Spend a moment today remembering your frailty, your need, your limitations. Then spend the day remembering your belovedness.