beloved dust jim goggin kyle strobelThere are books that you read, and then there are books that from the moment you open the first page you know that something is going to be different. Books that cause your soul to leap inside with signs of life that you once thought lost. Books that bring tears of hope and restoration to the surface, drawing them out from caverns they’ve been hiding in. Beloved Dust is one of those books.

I’m a pastor. I serve on the staff of a multi-site church in Ohio. My role in the last few months has shifted. I’ve moved from a place of comfort to a place of risk. It was a step I knew I needed to take, yet it was a step I feared more than any I’ve taken in a long time. Truthfully I’d come to a place where I was relying a lot on the talents and gifts God had given me to push forward in ministry rather than relying on God. I had been working like it depended on me and ignoring God. So when I finally wised up to the Holy Spirit’s promptings on my heart it was a difficult but, needed change. I needed to realized that I was “dust”. I was creation, not Creator. Until I began to understand more of this truth I would never be able to clearly hear the voice of God and obey the call He had put on my heart.

We’ve all been there haven’t we?

Thinking we are more than we are…

Believing that everything is in our control…

Yet we couldn’t be lying to ourselves more, and we know it.

We are dust.

Beloved dust.

To say that this book came along at just the right time is an understatement. Goggin and Strobel dive deep into what it means to be human. It begins “in the beginning” as the Creator forms the dust of the ground and breathes life into it to form Adam. Until God breathes into him, Adam is dust. It’s God’s mark on Adam that makes him more. The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpiece. We are a workmanship approved by the Master. It’s in understanding that we are dust, but we are beloved by God that this book takes its deepest roots. Identity in who God has created us to be is one of the most fundamental aspects of the Christian journey.

I read a lot. One of my favorite places to read is the local YMCA. I hop on a bike with my coffee in the cup holder, highlighter clenched firmly between my teeth, book folded over as I scribble notes in the margins and pedal with the resistance as high as it will go. One morning as I was riding I came upon a section in Beloved Dust about prayer:

This vacuum of prayer is another sign of the moralism that has eviscerated what life in God is all about. Prayer is another thing to check off the list of Christian activity, and it’s pretty low on the list because prayer doesn’t matter much if you are just trying to be good. 

I was convicted. I knew that this was talking about me. I had sensed the disengagement. I had sensed the distance. I had turned an open line of communication with the One who breathed life into my lungs into a chore akin to taking out the trash on Monday evenings. A sense of grief washed over me as I read. My book fell from my hands and I began to pedal harder and harder. Sweat mixed with tears as I placed my hands above my head and thought to myself, “I am dust”. It was in this moment the Spirit began to comfort me in ways only the Spirit can. “You are loved. You are special. You are chosen. You can come home.”

I am dust.

You are dust.

We are all dust… but, we are loved.

What would it look like if we all began to live in that reality? If we began to understand that we are indeed dust, but we are beloved dust? What if we lived like we are masterpieces of the greatest Artist of all? What would it look like to walk in that freedom?

I’m just beginning the journey. I hope to see you along the way.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have established,  what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You attend to him?  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,  all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,  the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatever travels the paths of the seas.  O  Lord , our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psalms 8:4-9 MEV)

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Beloved Dust: Drawing Close To God By Discovering The Truth About Yourself. By Jamin Goggin & Kyle Strobel. Nashville, TN, Nelson Books. 2014. 208 pages. ISBN 978-0-5291-1020-6. $16.99