Thursday, January 10, 2019

Be Dust, Be Stars, Be Sand

Father Abraham 

My husband is constantly teasing me because I can't just enjoy a song; I have this obsession with knowing all the lyrics and the meaning. I know it's nerdy. What can I say? I'm just a naturally curious person. So, one of my many useless talents is thinking of an appropriate song for any given situation. 

If you grew up going to church you probably heard the song "Father Abraham." Ever really thought about the words of that one before?

Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had father Abraham
I am one of them, and so are YOU
so let's just praise the Lord...

I bring this up because this week, as I read about Abraham, this song popped into my mind. (I should probably mention that I have a completely adorable and very musical three-year-old in my house, so the children's songs are pretty much always stuck in my head these days). But as I played it over in my mind, I had this incredible realization about these sons and daughters God is describing to Abraham (which is, by the way, us!) and what exactly we should be like. 

Understand, then, that those who have faith are the sons of Abraham.
Paul, Galatians 3:7

God talks to Abraham a LOT about Abraham's progeny. But these verses had a particular impact on me...

"I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth..." 
Genesis 13:16

"'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'" 
Genesis 15:5

"'I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore..." 
Genesis 22: 17

I have read these statements many times. And I always simplified them as being a reference to the extreme fruitfulness God was about to endow to Abraham, to the innumerability of his descendants. I mean, think about how many grains of sand, specks of dust, and stars there are in the world. We're talking vast, overwhelming, supernatural provision. And I definitely think that this is part of what God was trying to communicate. But I also think there's more to it than that. Let's explore...


Dust was the physical component God chose to construct man with in Genesis 2:7. Dirt. Fine dust, that blows in the wind. It comes from the Hebrew root "to pulverize," indicating it has been broken down to a fine powder. It's walked all over, trampled, and daily, hardly considered at all, except for the eternal struggle to get it off of our ledges and shelves. 

Dust is a humble thing. It's common. It's not particularly special. BUT -- when it's carried in the wind, or combined with fire, it sure can be something special to behold. Here are some interesting facts about dust: Atmospheric dust absorbs blue and green, but not red and orange, which makes for the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets that you see. And remember that "black dust" you read about recently travelling in the wind from the Sahara desert? That's actually an annual phenomenon, and if it didn't happen, the depleted soils of the Amazon rainforest wouldn't get the nutrients they need to sustain that gorgeous ecosystem. So the dust doesn't get the glory. But it's one amazing conductor.

Why would God say that Abraham's children should be like dust? I think it has something to do with humility. God took Abraham on a very literal journey from the place of the "mountaineer," Haran, to the place of "lowliness," or as you read it, Canaan. His children would need to do the same to walk with God in victory. Part of that is in recognizing where we came from. I feel like the world is all too ready to remind us that we're "nothing special." In this earthly body, we may feel overlooked, ordinary; we might get trampled on because of our kindness or Christian values. We might be repelled, or even despised, rejected like dust. 

But if we are children of Abraham, if we let the Holy Spirit (which literally means wind or breath in the biblical languages), guide us, place us, if we go with His current, then He is going to use us to do some amazing things. We may not get the glory in this life. But we can know that He is using us to bring heavenly glory to this world. But even as lovely as that is, thankfully, that's not the whole story of who we are. 


While humility is the mark of our character while we are here on earth, we have to remember something very important as believers - this is NOT our home. Stars have a function here on earth. They are beautiful, inspirational, they give light and direction. But they don't belong here. Their home is in the cosmos, in other galaxies far, far away. They are simply a participating influence here, reflecting the light of their home in the darkness. Friends, as the family of faith, that's our story. Our glory is in the heavenly kingdom, not here. 

Jesus taught that the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Peter also speaks of an appointed time when believers will be exalted. Paul shares similar words. And in Revelation, John speaks of a host of overcomers who rule and reign with Christ when His kingdom is fully established here on earth. But until that time, our job is to simply be a light, be an influence, teach, help, inspire, provide wisdom and hope to all who will receive it, remembering that this isn't our kingdom, it isn't where we will ultimately end up. So how the world reacts to you really doesn't matter so much. Whatever anyone says, you just shine on, baby. Reflect that heavenly light in all you do. Your glory day with Jesus is coming!


Just after Abraham offers Isaac, the son of promise, to the Lord as requested, we find God addressing Abraham, encouraging him and rewarding him for having withheld nothing in his pursuit of obedience. As a foster to adopt mama, I understand something about not only waiting, but placing the fate of your family and your children in God's hands. It's not for the faint of heart. The process does something to you. My husband and I walked through hellish circumstances for nearly two years, and we say all the time, we are not the same people who began the journey. 

Tests of faith break you down. They refine you. The deepen you. They change you. Abraham walked away from that altar with literally nothing dividing his heart with the Lord. And I believe God wanted all his covenant people to possess that same quality. 

Sand is silica that is broken down as far as it will ever break down. Salt, interestingly, qualifies as sand. I wonder if Jesus had this in mind when He told his disciples, "You are the salt of the earth." Have you experienced being "broken" by the Lord? That moment of complete surrender to His perfect will for your life? When we finally get to that place, when we hold nothing back from him, we can become like sand - sand is a natural buffer that protects land life from the powerful waves. Many life forms live on sand, and in the water, it joins together to create hospitable coral habitats for life forms that can hide within it. You can be a refuge. You can be unstoppable in your faith. But you have to LET GO. Let go of your pride, your will, your dreams, your vision of your future - whatever is standing in the way of complete obedience, let it be broken off and away from your heart. 

The Point

Are you a son or a daughter of Abraham? Have you placed your trust, your life, your whole heart in the hands of El Shaddai, the great provider? Then be humble like dust; be heavenly like stars; be a broken down haven like sand. Let's be the children God promised and purposed for us to be. 

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