Ashes to Ashes
In the apocalyptic book of Joel, it describes a swathe of destruction: “Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.”
This vision of desolation was typical of the type of literature that would have been written at the time.
In the state of Colorado, a similar vision of desolation tragically came to pass as many Coloradoans were displaced by a freakish December inferno that torched homes in the suburban cities of Louisville and Superior. 
Such a fire is stunning, not only because of the breadth of destruction but because of the rarity with which such fires claim lives and property in our modern era.
Once a far more common problem, the number of fires recorded since 1980 has decreased between 40 and 64 percent.  Modern American life often desensitizes us to the violence and power of the fallen created world. Fires, floods, frost, and fights do not threaten our daily existence in the way they did for so many of our ancestors.
Nonetheless, in the wake of Colorado’s destruction, we are reminded of the oft-quoted idiom from Ecclesiastes 3:20, which says, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
Obviously, this is a reference to the creation narrative (Genesis 2:7), where Adam is formed from the dust of the earth. It is a message to us all that we are mortal and our lives are transient.
Events like the Colorado fire and the current pandemic have served as apocalyptic-type events that show us how frail a human life can be. Even the mortality rate reflects this sobering reality. According to Centers for Disease Control data released in 2020, the provisional mortality rate in the United States jumped by almost 16 percent. 
The point of raising these issues is not to promote morbidity or an obsession with death. Instead, it is a call to appreciate the meaning behind the life that we have.
John 11:25-27 records the promise of eternal life in a dialogue between Jesus and his follower Martha: “‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’”
Would that we could all be reminded of Martha’s simple declaration.
We will all die. Having been reminded of this fact by fires and pandemics, the most important decision we can make now is how we will choose to spend our life after death.
What will you decide?
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 Vincent Del Giudice, “Police Pinpoint Starting Point of Historic Colorado Wildfire,” Yahoo Finance (January 2, 2022), https://finance.yahoo.com/news/police-track-colorado-fire-tips-160506144.html.
 “Provisional Mortality Data-United States, 2020,” Centers for Disease Control (April 9, 2021) https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7014e1.htm.
 Marty Ahrens and Ben Evarts, “Fire Loss in the United States During 2020,” NFPA (September 2021), https://www.nfpa.org/~/media/fd0144a044c84fc5baf90c05c04890b7.ashx#:~:text=The%20rate%20of%20reported%20home,death%20rate%20are%20very%20similar.