Genesis 3:19 (NASB) says, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and unto dust you will return.” This is the theme of Ash Wednesday, which begins 40 days of Lenten repentance until the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for our sins on Good Friday, three days before Easter Sunday. In the Jewish tradition, sundown of one day is the beginning of the next day. Thus, Good Friday counts as day 1 and sundown begins the beginning of day 2, Holy Saturday, and sundown of Holy Saturday begins Easter Sunday, day 3.
I never really had an understanding of the depth of this scripture until my only child, David, died on May 18, 2017. He passed away from an opioid overdose in Florida and his father handled all of the details, including sending me one-half of his cremated remains to be buried in Lancaster County, PA. I have been to many funerals with a container of the loved one’s cremated ashes in a decorative urn at the front of the altar. As difficult as it is to allow the ashes of a loved one to bring closure of his/her life, that is not the hardest part. When I saw the plastic bag full of David’s cremated ashes in a package delivered to my door by the postman, I felt I would drown in horrific sorrow and disbelief as his mother. Everything within my body, mind and spirit dissolved into a sorrow that I have never experienced before!
This experience led me to the understanding the Genesis scripture of how God made man from the dust of the earth and after Adam and Eve sinned, that this would become their earthly fate. There is no identity in ashes because the soul has left the body to stand before the Throne of Judgment. For the faithful followers of Jesus Christ, upon His return to earth, their ashes will be changed into a glorious new spiritual body that will live with God for all eternity!
David was almost 41 when he died. He acquired 2 Bachelors degrees and 2 Masters degrees over the years, and became a certified radiologist technician in Florida during the last year of his life. He was a gentle man who always helped other people. But he could not take any of these achievements with him when he died. And neither can you!
Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and when thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).