Last week I heard some sad news from my extended family. My cousin had gone out to Zimbabwe for her aunt’s funeral. While she was there, she was on a boating trip. She stood up at the wrong moment, fell over the side and hit her head on the propeller. She never recovered from the extensive brain damage, and a few days later her heart gave out. She was in her late twenties, recently married.


I was really shocked by the news. I had lost touch with her, and had only really known her as a child rather than as an adult. My memories of her are mainly of her giggling shyly with us at family get-togethers. She had a great sense of fun. As an adult, she cared deeply about her family, with whom she was very close, and she was a loyal and compassionate friend to many.


I felt saddened, mainly on behalf of my extended family rather than for myself. But most of all I felt shocked. We don’t expect these things to happen – not to people we know, not to us.



I secretly believe I am immortal. Well, not immortal exactly, but in control of how and when I will die.


That may sound strange, as someone who is more aware than the average person of their frailty and weakness. I was explaining to a friend, ‘I think I’m going to die, but of M.E. or of cancer or heart disease which comes as a result of M.E. – and in the future. I expect to have warning of it.’ In other words, I would quite like to be in control of my death, at least a little bit. Death should only come to those who are old and full of days, and softly, as a release from pain of illness.


I don’t expect to die in an accident. That wouldn’t be ‘fair’, when I already have something that could one day potentially kill me. Neither does it seem right or fair that my cousin should die in her twenties, whilst on holiday, and just undergoing bereavement herself. I feel like somehow we should be immune from death under these circumstances – we should have a temporary reprieve. But death does not submit to our negotiations.



In one sense it is good for me to feel like this, to be so resistant to death. Death is wrong.


Evolution, science, Buddhism would tell us that death is a natural process and not to be feared. The Bible calls it our last enemy. The reason that it feels so ‘unnatural’ is because it IS unnatural. We have eternity written in our hearts. Death came in through sin, it is not the way it was supposed to be.


On the other hand, it’s not good for me to feel invincible because it just isn’t true. Death is out of our control. I don’t like this fact.  I like to think I can guard the safety of my loved ones, that I can plan long-term. I like to think I am in control of my life, that I am made of strong, indestructible stuff; shiny, hard metal, or enduring wood.


I am not. I am dust.


“For [The Lord] knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.” Ps 103:14


The truth is that our bodies are fragile, and our lives are fleeting.


Every so often, it is good for me to remember that I am dust. I am not in control of my life, and I am not in control of my death. Only God knows how long I will be here for. God is the author of my story within the Big Story and only He knows my ending.


I need to entrust my life – and my death – into the hands of the one who numbers the hairs on my head and measures out my days on this earth. I need to trust the one who takes the dust and breathes life into it, who creates and redeems and recreates. I need to trust the one who knows that I am dust.


Over to you:

  • (I know this is a bit morbid but…) How helpful do you think it is to be aware of our own mortality? To what extent are you aware of yours?

Linking with Joy in this Journey for Life:Unmasked and Mary-Beth for WIP Wednesday

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40 Responses to Dust

  1. lulu 22nd January, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    I learnt I wasn’t invincible at quite a young age. When I was 4 I was diagnosed with nocturnal epilepsy its not as bad as normal epilepsy. I have a fit in my sleep and wake up with a headache that feels like someone is stabbing me repeatedly in the head and throw up 3 times before it goes away. Pain killers don’t work on the headache. Its effected by bright lights , sleep deprivation , dehydration , eating too many foods with colourings and not eating regularly. I used to thank God that my parents were happily married and my family was healthy. Then one of my brothers was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Then 10 days before my eighth birthday my baby brother Elijah died. Then when I was 9 my parents seperated. Then my other brother was diagnosed with ADHD and my youngest brother is going to be tested for ADHD. And 2 months ago my great uncle who I was quite close to died. So I’ve been more than aware of my immortality and lack of control in my life. (Sorry how angry this post sounds I want you to know I did try to sound civil).

    • Tanya 28th January, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

      Hi lovely Lulu. I can see this hit a nerve. As I look at the litany of suffering you’ve already experienced at such a young age, I also feel angry and sad that you’ve had to carry so much. It must be so hard just to process it all. thinking of you.

      • lulu 28th January, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

        Why hello terrific Tanya! That’s me actually holding half the stuff I’ve been through back only they’re
        about a lot of other people I care about so its not my place to say. Thank you for being sympathetic I’ve told people about my depression and all iv been through and I’ve heard them say things like ” she needs to learn the world doesn’t revolve around her” and that’s my christian family members and they don’t even say it to my face! ( wow that one sounds angry too I really am trying to sound civil).


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