“All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.”
As I walk down the center aisle leading a procession carefully holding an urn with the ashes of my father-in-law, I understand in a very practical sense verses such as these from Job. Man is created out of ash (and dust), and back to ashes shall he return in time. Holding this ornate container makes me wonder: Is this all that remains from his life here on Earth?
In a biological and physical sense, in the circumstance of cremation, “Yes”. Even in a typical burial, a body will eventually succumb and will essentially become part of the earth and ground. Thus, there can be no mystery. God gave us life; God gave every breathing thing and animal life. Science has not been able to introduce “life” into a non-living and inanimate object or piece of matter. So in many ways, the mystery surrounding death is similar to the same mystery of life.
At funerals every day, mourners ponder where the recently deceased is now. Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Reincarnated? Simply in the ground? At the same time, we often ask ourselves at these occasions where we would be or go if we were to die today.
The physical body has a real and definitive “end”. Loved ones mourn and grieve over this fact. However, the spirit and soul- the true essence- lives on for eternity. This is what the Bible clearly teaches us. It is somewhat refreshing and encouraging to know that my father-in-law is not “gone forever” truly. What made him who he was remains on, in a different way and realm.
There is something quite humbling about seeing or handling ashes. The ancient Hebrews felt the same way, and wrote often about the true nature and plight of man in like fashion.
“And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.”
But for believers, all is not lost and all is not in vain. There is something and somewhere greater and grander than our time on Earth. How often do you think about what might appear and happen on “the other side”?