“. . . I am nothing but dust and ashes.”
A man by the name of Noam Arnon says that, in the early 1980s, he and a small team seized an opportunity to explore a cave in the Palestinian city of Hebron. When they did, they saw a stairway. They descended. At the bottom of the stairway was a corridor. At the end of the corridor, they found an opening where they descended even further. And it was here, Arnon says, that he found himself crawling through a two-chambered cave. In that cave, there was broken pottery. There were bone fragments and there was dust. As far as anyone knows, no one has entered the site since.
The cave that Noam Arnon describes is the traditional site for what the Bible calls, “The Cave of Machpelah.” The Cave of Machpelah was the burial place of Abraham and his family.
Picture yourself crawling through the cave. You move your flashlight back and forth. There’s nothing much to see; a few shards of broken pottery, a few fragments of bone, and dust.
Long before he died, Abraham himself understood what he was. “I am nothing but dust and ashes,” he said. Even though he was wealthy, Abraham knew that, in and of himself, he was nothing more than the tiny remnants that the Cave of Machpelah would one day contain.
That’s why the center of Abraham’s life was not Abraham. Rather, the center of Abraham’s life was the Lord. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Abraham trusted that the Lord would one day send someone who would wash him clean of his every sin; who would cover him in a blanket of holiness; who would take his soul home to heaven; and who would even, at the appointed time, raise up his bones from the Cave of Machpelah to live in glory forever.
God has made the same promise to us. Although our bodies will one day be nothing but dust and ashes, when Jesus returns, he will raise our bodies back to life to live in glory forever.
May this promise comfort you when life seems meaningless and when death seems final. May this promise inspire you to make the Lord the center of your life just as Abraham did.
Lord Jesus, in those times when I crawl through the cave of my own frailties, fix my eyes on you. Amen.