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You Are What You Sweep

Dust goes unnoticed, for the most part. It surrounds us, but unless we work in construction, we hardly ever see it. When we do, it is usually because we are trying to Swiffer it up or sweep it away. Although we are continually touching and inhaling a cocktail of hairs, pollens, fibers, mites, and skin cells, we try not to think about it.

Dust speaks of decay. It comes about through the decomposition of other things, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. Dust in a home means our cells have died recently. Ghost towns and postapocalyptic movies are covered in it, highlighting the loss not just of creatures or structures but of civilization itself. And God says: “You are made of that.”

It doesn’t sound very encouraging. Being dust-people means that one day we will be dead people. When humanity fell in the Garden, the resulting curse—“for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19)—clearly referred to mortality.

We may find it liberating, unsettling, or terrifying to contemplate, but one day our cells will be swirling in the autumn leaves, wedged between sofa cushions, and hidden behind radiators. The same is true of the world’s most powerful and influential people … even our apparently invincible empires will finally turn to dust. So will we.

But only for a while. One day, Paul says, we will no longer be modeled after the man of dust who came out of the soil, but after the man of heaven who came out of the tomb (1 Cor. 15:49).

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