Pilgrimage to Dust

Pilgrimage to Dust

Our bodies may be driving us back towards the dust, but at the same time the Holy Spirit is inwardly pushing us along to glory. He will continue sanctifying us, until the final day, seemingly at our weakest, when our body succumbs to its physical death, we will behold the greatest victory! The beautiful chain of God’s work will be fashioned, and the sin that plagues our hearts will be cast off forever (Rom. 8:30). We will finally grasp freedom from the grief, pain, and loss in our sin-cursed world. And on that day we’ll be face to face with the one who also willingly walked towards weakness, so that we would be able to walk towards glory. 

My eyes catch a glimpse of the fingers slowly dancing across my keyboard. Wrinkles web across the surface, highlighting every bump and lump. They weave up towards the rounded knuckles—the ones that gripe at me from time to time. The thinning skin that’s weathered years of toil reveals blue veins beneath. I wonder if, or when, arthritis will come to stay?

I recline in my chair and slowly roll my shoulders back and forth, attempting to free the pinched nerve from the previous night’s sleep. It’s been happening more often. The sound of grinding muscles reverberates through my head, as I try to release the tightened offender.

I’m thirty-four years old, but I’m already acutely aware of the way my body is changing. It surfaces in spurts—when I wake up, crawl out of bed, and stretch only to suffer the consequences for the rest of the day. I feel these changes when I attempt a spinning ride with my children, leave a dish too spicy, or find myself unable to keep my eyes open in the evening. Things are not as they were.

Our culture tries to convince us we can all drink from the fountain of youth. Actresses in their seventies zip themselves into the latest fashion and appear on magazines and screens. They perpetuate the con that a little makeup, Botox, and a fitness regimen can keep your youthful zeal forever. Yet it’s nothing but smoke.

The graceful arms of our favorite movie icon can no longer do all they used to do. The intelligent wit of that actor has slowed, and some of their neural connections are now non-existent as memories slip from their mind. No matter how much pampering, clean eating, or willpower we commit to on this earth, our body will continue to weaken. The curse of sin demands it. Each day we wake up, our bodies walk toward death.

Pilgrimage to Dust

As much as we don’t like to admit it, we know weakness hangs in our future. We feel it with each funeral that hits our church. We see it in our grandparents and parents who force us to view the fragility of their bodies up close. We see it in ourselves. The writer in Ecclesiastes tells us no one can escape. We all go to one place: “All are from the dust, and to dust all return” (Eccles. 3:20).

We can hide, deny, or try to avoid it, but the reality remains that our entire life is one of increasing debility. We begin our lives helpless, as babies who begin to grow in strength and power. Yet with each day, our bodies begin to cycle back to the beginning, in a rhythm that releases whatever strength we accrued in this life. Our toned muscles will eventually deteriorate. Our neural connections will gradually wane.

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