Scripture: Psalm 22:1-15
I sit trying to pray today. I say try because I am grieved. I have never liked death, I hate hospitals, and this is the aspect of ministry that just makes life suck. It is because mourning is not fun, I do not like sheading tears. Death is a part of life.
I have a heavy heart today because someone in our Meeting has passed beyond the veil. I won’t mention names, those that are close enough to me will know, and those that are not will understand in their own ways. There is a darkness that surounds death, we do not know how to handle this milestone of life. Should we even label it as a part of life? I do believe we should.
The thing about death is that we very quickly realize that what we have been focused on in our life may not really mean much. If we are focused on our jobs, money, or countless other things that take our time and energy what do we have to show for it? Not a whole lot. But what if we invest our lives in relationships? What if? See that is the darkness surrounding death. So easily we are distracted by countless idols in this world. We lose tract of what is really important. We miss out on the building of relationships because we would rather build a legacy or empire, but in the end our empire is nothing without the love and respect of the people around us.
So often our minds are focused on the short term goals of life. The short term goals that in the end when all else is stripped away mean nothing. Scripture often speaks of judgement at th end of life, it speaks of it as a raging fire that will consume all that we have done. Burning everything that we have build, leaving only the things built of materials of lasting value. The things of stone and metals…
Even this sounds damning. Because stone can break in the flames, and metals can melt leaving us with piles of something we cannot recognize as our lives. But there is something that will remain. When stone and metal burn and melt there is a blending of materials, it can be formed into the most beautiful rocks imagined. Rocks that become priceless to people seeking them out. In life, people would die to get their hands on the rocks made in the fires of the earth that blend the elements of metal and stone. We have mines dedicated to their discovery, and population shifts revolving around the adventure of the find. That is what we all want. We want to find that most precious ore that will give us meaning. It is a cycle of life, one that continues throughout history, the seeking and finding of the most precious things of life.
But in the end we find that the metals we all saught were not found in the ground but in the lives we shared with along the way. The most precious aspects of life…are life. The psalmist in this passage speaks of his ancestors, as well as his future. He realizes that his ancestors have already passed through the fires of life and in the end it was revealed that of all they did the only thing that mattered was the family and the faith they left behind. It was in that place that this poet finds comfort. He faces a sure end, his mouth is so dry that his tougnue is sticking to the roof, his bones are so weary that it is as if they will melt like the wax of a candle. But he holds onto the faith and the family that he has had from the beginning, and that he will leave behind.
We are not self made people. We are a product of the cycles of life that connect us back to the very origin of our humanity. That cycle continues well beyond our last breath as we ourselves have lived among mankind. The problem of sin is that it breaks us off from that rich heritage of our past, our present, and future. When we focus on the idols of our culture we stray from the path of life and we lose some of the preciousness of what we were given. Eventually what is left is just the dust of weathered and beaten stone known as dirt.
That is what we came from in the beginning, according to the ancient Hebrew poet. We are just dust without life, then God breathed into our forms and gave life to us. We, at that moment, become something more, something precious. Because of that moment we were given a responsibily to be caretakers of everything that was created. To care for the earth, to tame the earth to produce what was good. In the end what do we pass on? All we pass on is our faith and our families. Both are encompassed around relationships. Where is our faith and who are our families? With one breath, God made dirt more precious than all the gold in the mines. With one breath God made us more than we truely are. In one breath we can return back to being the dust of the earth, unless we pass on a faith and linage of precious stone and metals.
As I pray today, I pray with a heavy heart because I know so often I am using the breath God has given me not to build up his kingdom with precious worth while materials. So often I build my life with the empty things that will only last a short time in the fires of judgment. But I know that there is Grace, there is always time, until that last breath, that God can use me to create something of value. God kept the linage of David through all the trials facing him. He came, born through that line connecting the history of Israel and all of mankind with the divine. He lived a total and complete life with us, for us, and through us. God is the gold and precious stones that builds precious life. Let us today be the bearer of Life so in the end those that live after us will have something more than dust to inherit.