By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return."
My son Sean and I braved the morning heat to mow the lawns in our neighborhood.
Because of the heatwave that has plagued Southern California lately, much of the grass has been burnt away. Sure there are a few sporadic patches of green, but for the most part each lawn is a tapestry of various colors of brown.
In other words, we got up early to pretty much mow a lot of dirt and kick up a lot of dust, which in hindsight seemed like a stupid and crazy thing to do. Especially in that horrific heat.
Yet there we were; literally giving up our blood, sweat and tears to help our neighbors for what might seem like a lost cause.
I'm the dust and dirt, the dried up and trampled up, stained by dog pee and littered with weeds and poop. And then there's God, pushing the mower and cursing the relentless inferno temperature.
I can't tell you how many times I've been called 'dirt,' or all the ways life has made me feel as meaningless as dust. Yet here's God, showing up to care for me in whatever God-forsaken place I have found myself in.
The good thing about being as old as dirt (which is pretty old) is I have discovered that God doesn’t treat me any differently then when I was once fresh, green grass. God shows up every time to work on me, to clean me up and hose me down. And no matter how hot or cold is might be, God never gives up or stops caring.
It's no surprise then that Jesus often tells stories about the landscape. And my own interpretation of those stories and parables would argue that being called a dirt-bag by the world isn’t such a bad thing, for it’s in dirt that God plants seeds that grow to be mighty trees. It's in the soil that we get all the nutrients that feed and strengthen the world. Dirt is also used to make so many other things like pottery and mud pies!
Heck, even the most desolate and worn out parts of creation have a place in God’s heart because that's where they were made! So from dust we were made and it will be where we will eventually return and be transformed into something new and amazing.
Like dirt, each one of us plays a major role in growing the Kingdom of God! Thus we are all called to spread the Good News like little individual particles of dust kicked up by my leaf blower.