Those storms were far more dangerous than we realize. All during that decade, schools were often closed to prevent "dust pneumonia" in those traveling back and forth. If the children were already at school when a storm began, they were often kept overnight to keep them out of the filthy air. Cars drug chains behind them to ground them due to the high voltage static electricity that the dust caused and which led to several electrocutions. People knew to sweep the dust off their roofs, but they forgot that dust seeps into cracks and many attics collapsed on the families beneath.
After reading all that I knew that my incredibly dust-producing house was not as bad as I always thought. Still, though, it is the dustiest place we have ever lived. A few weeks ago I got out the dust rags and the polish and went to work. It had been over two months since I had dusted anything at all and it was showing, not just on the furniture, but in my nose and lungs—I have a dust mite allergy.
I knew it would take awhile and it did, dusting every flat surface and every item on them, including a large dinner bell collection, vases from Bethlehem and Nicaragua, and those porcelain bootee-shaped vases that flowers had come in when the boys were born, figurines inherited from grandmothers and great-aunts, a wooden airplane Keith’s grandfather whittled inside an empty whiskey bottle, candles, telephones, a small piano collection, a metronome, fan blades, jewelry boxes, and beaucoup picture frames. I dirtied up four rags in an hour and a half, sneezed a couple dozen times, and required a decongestant in order to breathe the rest of the day.
When I finished I looked around. The pictures all reflected brightly in the wood they sat on, the porcelain shone, the candles looked a shade brighter, and the brass gleamed. What a difference it made to dust things off.
So what do you need to dust off in your life? Sometimes we become satisfied with our place in the kingdom, happy with where we are in our spiritual growth, comfortable in our relationships with others and our ability to overcome. Sometimes we sit so long in our comfortable spot, be it a literal pew or a figurative one, that we soon sport our own layer of dust. Maybe we aren’t doing anything wrong exactly, we have just stopped stretching ourselves to be better and do more.
“Dusting off” seems a good metaphor for “renewal.” Paul tells the Colossians we have “put off our old selves” (past tense) but that the new self is “being renewed” (present tense), Col 3:9,10. Being renewed has not stopped and never should. Every day is a new beginning for the child of God. When we forget that, the dust starts to settle, and our light is dimmed with a layer of uselessness that builds every minute. Soon, as the light weakens, no one will notice us, or is that the point?
When did you last dust yourself off and get to work, “transforming yourself by the renewing of your mind?” Rom 12:2. That layer of dust will build and build until it collapses on your unsuspecting spirit, giving you a case of dust pneumonia from which you may never recover.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, Psalms 51:10.