Dust and Air (Psalm 78:39)

Thus He remembered that they were but flesh,
A wind that passes and does not return.

Psalm 78:39

This thought is repeated more than once in The Bible, so it seemed to invite consideration this morning.

God knows what we’re made of. We were made from clay. We are not stone, that we should be constant and endure hardship well. We are not wood, that we should bend with the winds that come with the storms of life yet remain securely rooted. We are clay. We crack. We shatter. God is always mindful of the stuff we’re made of.

I forget. I look at temptations from which I should flee and I want to stand and fight them. I look at situations that are obviously too much for me to handle alone and want to charge in and take care of business. In short, I forget that I am only flesh and blood; forget that I was fashioned from dust and air. In the film Gladiator, the former gladiator says to Maximus that mortals are “shadows and dust.”

I would do well to remember that line, because God never forgets what I’m made of; it is always before His mind’s eye.

The application for this is twofold. One, since God is mindful that I am but flesh, / A wind that passes and does not return, He will never place upon me a burden that He cannot enable me to bear. This is not to say that He will never place a burden on me that is too big for me alone, but that what He allows to rest on me will never be more than He and I can bear together. Two, I need to be mindful that I am but flesh and that flesh has weaknesses. Flesh tires. Flesh needs sustenance. Flesh needs sleep. And if flesh is tired or in need of nourishment or in need of sleep (not necessarily the same as being tired), then flesh is susceptible to temptations and sins that might otherwise be unattractive. Flesh is weak. As Jesus said: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Instructions to flee temptation are not calls to cowardice, but acknowledgements that my flesh is so incredibly weak. I am not made of sterner stuff than dust and air. I need to remember that and act accordingly when faced with temptations and trials and so on.

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