Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! Numbers 23:10
Do you ever have dreams that you can’t shake? Dreams that you instinctively know are not gibberish, but contain a message from God?
At first glance, many dreams from God don’t make much sense. It may take a time of prayer and seeking God to discover their meaning. While the way that God speaks to you in a dream will probably be different that the way He speaks to me, there is a commonality in dreams from the Lord: God uses imagery that is familiar to us.
When my son, Garrett, was young he dreamed about being an action figure or cartoon. He was either Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger, being chased by a mob of tiny green toy soldiers or Thomas the Tank Engine running for president. Once he was Barney battling Battlestar Galactica. My daughter dreamed about cheerleading and candy bars. My husband—well, that’s simple…he dreams about cars.
Me? My dreams almost always deal with houses and rooms. I’m sure it’s because I like to decorate and that is an easy way for God to get my attention.
Recently, I had a dream that I lived in a mansion with so many rooms that I couldn’t count them all. Normally a mansion would be an impressive feature to have in a dream. For me, not so much. I knew it didn’t mean that I was going to strike it rich and move to Beverly Hills. Through previous journaling and prayer I have discovered that a house in my dreams usually represents me and the rooms in my dreams usually represent neglected areas of my life. Ouch!
In my dream, I was going around the house to check all the doors to make sure that they were locked before I went to bed. As I walked through the living room, I was surprised to find my father sitting in a rocking chair, patiently waiting for me to come to talk with him. Although my father had passed away the year before, I knew that my dad represented God in the dream. He smiled and motioned for me to sit down.
“Where’s the container of my ashes?” he gently asked.
The “container” was one of my least favorite items. Ever since I had dropped and cracked it, it had been stuffed in the back of my closet.
“Oh, that? Ummm. It’s around here somewhere. But didn’t you notice the pictures of you throughout my house?”
“Yes, but the container…”
I didn’t think that the container matched my décor. It was rather unimpressive. I wondered why “my father” hadn’t selected a more striking vessel to display His legacy.
“I have a lot of your quotes hanging on my wall, too.” I beamed. “Every time I look at them they remind me of you. And the book you wrote—did you notice it on my night stand?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but the container of my ashes is most important to me.”
A container of ashes? Hmm. Why was God was only interested in ashes?
When I woke up, I wanted to crawl back under the covers. I couldn’t believe that I had been so unfaithful and dishonorable. How could I have ignored my father’s wishes?
As I considered the imagery in the dream, it was clear that I had chosen to put my own priorities before my Father’s wishes. I grieved my Father by not cherishing what was most important to him—the ashes. Instead, I decided what was worthy enough for display.
God was only interested in the remains of a burnt offering, remnants of a life lived for His glory…and my ashes were tucked away and forgotten in a cracked pot.
Since my dream, I’ve given a lot of thought to ashes and why God is so concerned about burnt remains. Here are a few things I found:
• Ashes were used to sanctify, cleanse and purify from sin. (Numbers 9:19, Hebrews 9:13).
• A burnt offering is a pleasing fragrance to God. (Numbers 28:6).
• Ashes are evidence of a fire, the remains of a burning passion.
• God makes beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
• Our bodies were inspired by God and created from ashes (Genesis 2:7).
• Ashes represent what is left over after we are gone, what remains when our life is over.
• Ashes are almost impossible to remove. If our life reflects Christ, we will leave a lasting legacy of hope. On the other hand, if we give our time to unworthy pursuits, the mark we make on this life will be nothing more than an annoying smudge.
Ashes embody the heritage we leave behind for our descendents. In this case, a fried life is actually a good thing. So what about you? What legacy will your life leave? What do you want the ashes of your life to say about you? What will others inhale when you exhale?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for the times I have not proudly displayed a burning passion for You in my life. Help me put the things that are important to you first in my life so that I can leave a lasting legacy of hope to inspire future generations to follow your will. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.
Scriptures to Consider:
• And the LORD God formed man of the dust (dry earth, dust, powder, ashes, earth, ground, mortar, rubbish) of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7
• Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! Numbers 23:10
• …and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
• All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. Job 34:15
Questions to Ponder:
1. Ashes are evidence of a fire, the remains of a burning passion. Think of someone you admire. What kind of “ashes” do you think their life will leave behind?
2. Why do you think God is interested in ashes?
3. Which of the following do you think ashes represents?
A financial inheritance
4. What do you want to the ashes of your life to say about you when you are gone?
5. If you were to die today, how would your ashes reveal these intentions?
6. What changes in your life do you need to make in order for your ashes to be an accurate reflection of your heart?
© Christy Johnson 2009