Music of the rock group Kansas takes me back to my high school days. I particularly remember the hauntingly beautiful harmonies of “Dust in the Wind.” The sound would echo in my head days after I listened to it on the radio. Who could resist humming or singing the mournful tune and wallow in a melancholic puddle of feelings. Supposedly, it was inspired by Native American poetry, an enchanting yet bleak reminder of where our modern materialism takes us. But how many who savored the bittersweet melody back in the 70’s ever really thought about the implications of what it was saying? “All we are is dust in the wind.” Was there a hopeful antidote? Something that could impart substance to our nothingness? Immortality? The song didn’t say, and I never took the time to think too deeply about it.
Why? Because I had my whole life in front of me. As a teenager, I pretty much behaved as if I would live this present life forever (of course, without much thought). No rush to get anything done, make any solid plans, or think about what happens at the end. I had plenty of time to work that all out at some point in the fuzzy future.
What Does the Bible Say?
Interestingly, the scriptures offer some parallel thoughts with the mournful crooning of Kansas. A single human life on this earth is short. Its significance cannot be measured in terms of time spent wandering the globe, the amount of material wealth collected, or the number of tasks performed. When considered in light of the thousands (millions?) of circuits the planet has completed around the sun, 80 years is nothing. While there are many passages that could be quoted, here are three:
“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.” Psalms 90:10 NLT
“We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” 1 Chronicles 29:15 NLT
“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.” Job 14:1-2 NLT
It’s Depressingly True
As I have aged, I’ve spent more time pondering what of my life will remain after I’m gone. The glimmer of past accomplishments (things I was very proud of in my youth) has already faded. What will be left to remember when my body is buried? Who will care about athletic and academic awards or fawning words of approval? Who will reverently honor any clever financial decisions? Business accomplishments? The size of my house? The landscaping of my back yard? The type of car in my garage? Titles after my name? Some of it may be mentioned in a eulogy. But will people concern themselves thinking about me after earth covers my coffin? Nah. Everyone will be moving on to the next thing (their own concerns). Memories will fade and eventually be whisked away as if I had never existed.
Yes, such thoughts can stir the muck of depression. Life is so short. No one lives forever, nor is remembered for who they truly were for very long. And what I now consider my greatest achievements will one day be less tangible than the smoke of a funeral pyre.
That Which Lasts Forever
But there is another biblical passage that recently caught my eye:
“Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!” Psalms 103:15-18 NLT
We’re once again promised that our lives will disappear “as though we had never been here.” Yet we’re also offered a pathway to immortality. Though everything about us will blow away in the winds of time and the nothingness of decay, there is something that endures through it all: the love of the Lord. It remains FOREVER, never changing.
So, how do we hitch a ride into eternity and avoid the fate of swirling dust and meaningless debris? How do we get on board for endless life? According to the psalmist, we must attach ourselves to something outside ourselves that doesn’t end—divine love that transcends time, space, matter, and bad choices. We’re promised that His loving kindness will remain with those who humble themselves, put His concerns first, obey Him, and trust in His goodness to save. We then get to enjoy a future wrapped in this love wherever it is found (in His presence) and for as long as it lasts (which, of course, is forever). No blowing wind can move, degrade, or lessen something so solid.
Thinking Through the Implications
This means that anything in my life that does not submit and conform to the love and Lordship of God will not last and become less than dust. My greatest earthly possessions and accomplishments that are not tied into what He loves and values will disintegrate into worthless and forgettable nothingness. So many things I count as precious right now, among which are my demand for autonomy, my striving for personal fulfillment, and the approval of my peers and culture will join this swirl into oblivion. And what will prevent me from swirling away with it all? Only ONE THING can anchor me for all eternity against being sucked into the deterioration of this world and its short-term value system.
Interestingly, Kerry Livgren, the guy who wrote “Dust in the Wind” in 1977, declared himself to be a follower of Jesus in 1980. I don’t know if there was a direct connection. But surely he thought through the implications of his lyrics and wasn’t happy with where they left him. Thankfully, we don’t have to come to an end like wilted grass or drifting dirt. We are more than the material world and its temporary treasures if we let ourselves be fully embraced by His love. Wrapped in His arms we find our eternal identity, with our hope and allegiance in Him alone.
“On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”