Imagine a pastor or priest saying to you in church, “You are dust, and to dust you will return.”
It flies in the face of all our culture yells at us! You’ll never see a TV commercial with an average looking person saying, “As you get older, it’s natural to feel tired, to have sore and stiff joints, get wrinkles and age spots. You know these bodies of ours don’t last forever!”
So, we show up for an Ash Wednesday Service riding the current waves of our culture and suddenly reality jerks us to a sudden stop: “Life is short!”
The Psalmist understood that reality. “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away…human existence is but a breath … And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalm 39:4-7 (NLT)
Death is inevitable. One day we’ll take our last breath and we’re gone. Our bodies, no matter how well preserved with supplements and probiotics, will eventually return to the dust from which we were made. Knowing that we’re all terminal should impact the way we live.
First, it should motivate us to make our days on this planet count. We should live so that we’re making a difference to the people around us and the world is just a little bit better because we’re here. God gives us dozens of opportunities every day to share His love, to speak a good word for Christ, to serve a person in need! Sadly, we can be so locked into our busy lives and focused on our personal agendas that we become blind to needs around us.
We need to make the most out of each and every day. “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT)
Second, it should motivate us to invest our lives in things that outlive us. It’s been said that we can live our lives in one of three ways: we can waste our lives; we can spend our lives (just going through the routines of life, which is what most people do); or we can invest them in those things that outlive us.
I want to leave a spiritual legacy for my kids, grandchildren and others to follow. I want to live in such a way that it invites and challenges the next generations of young people to pick up their cross and finish the race set before them by Christ by living lives of sacrifice and service to others and God. I want people to see and know what a disciple is like — and do it in such a way that they want to follow Jesus and live leaving that legacy to future generations.
Third, knowing that life is short should motivate us to live our lives fulfilling God’s mission to reach the world for Christ. When I die and go to heaven, I want people to step up and shake my hand or give me a hug saying, “I’m here in heaven because of you! You taught me in Sunday School to trust in Jesus.” Or, “You were there for me at youth group when my life was out of control.” Or, “I’m here because of that missionary you supported. I’m here in heaven because of you!”
Finally, knowing life is short should motivate us to get right with God — and stay right with God. I’ve yet to figure out why people put off giving their lives to Jesus Christ. I just can’t imagine going through life without Him, but people do it all the time. I often close my sermons with the invitation, “If you’ve never given your life to Jesus Christ, why are you waiting?”
Ash Wednesday reminds us to never presume upon the future! So, don’t wait to give your heart to Jesus Christ! Give your life to Jesus now while you can enjoy Him today and be ready for all eternity!
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return!” Make sure your life counts! Invest your life! Live God’s mission! And get right and stay right with God!