From Dust to Diamonds

My first interaction with mica came when I was about twelve years old. My parents had recently purchased some land on which they planned to build a cabin. Just a few miles from that mountain property lies an abandoned mica mine, so we’d often take the ATVs and check it out. The cabins that once upon a time housed miners still stand—barely. The same goes for the structure that held the main mine shaft. The roof has caved in, and the floorboards look like they would struggle to support a mouse. Yet, just outside these dilapidated buildings, the ground still teems with a strange mineral known as mica.

Unlike gold, silver, or diamonds, mica is not particularly strong. A child can pick up a piece and can peel it apart its layers as effortlessly as taking sticker off its backing. Not only that, but that same child could easily grind the mica to powder in his fingers. Mica, though, is not without its uses. According to the mineral education coalition, it’s used in some wallboard joint compounds; it can also be used in some plastics as an extender or filler.1 Useful, but not quite as valuable as a diamond. Yet, when it comes to the Christian life, we’re called to be like the breakable, crumbly mica that God may transform us into a beautiful diamond.

Crushed in Spirit

Twice in the Old Testament, God promises as special blessing to those who are “crushed,” a word that carries the idea of being ground to powder.2 In fact, sometimes the same word is translated as dust (Ps. 90:3). But metaphorically, it has the idea of allowing your pride to be pulverized, as in these verses:

For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: “I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.  (Isa 57:15)

The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.  (Psa 34:18)

God promises to live with and to save those who are crushed in spirit. Perhaps this reminds you of the New Testament beatitude from the lips of Jesus: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matt. 5:3).

But what does it mean to be “crushed in spirit”? After all, we’re promised in 2 Cor. 4:8 that though we may be “afflicted in every way,” we won’t be crushed. Our heavenly Father is not a sadist in combat boots waiting to crush us like miniscule ants. To think of being crushed in that way is to pervert Scripture’s message. Yet, the fact remains: we are called to be crushed.

Remember You’re Dust

Since Satan entered the Garden cloaked in the form of a serpent, he has been seducing us with the lie that we can be like God (Gen. 3:5). In fact, this was Lucifer’s desire that resulted in his expulsion from heaven (Isa. 14:13), and we’ve all been following suit ever since. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, we delude ourselves into thinking that our great achievements will somehow grant us divine status.

And it’s not just humanity at large that swallows this line. Every time I (whether consciously or not) neglect prayer and opt for independence, I’ve ostensibly said to God, “I don’t need You. I’ve got this.” When I ignore my own physical boundaries—like fatigue, hunger, or emotional bandwidth—and add yet another commitment to my plate, I’m being duped by the fallacy that claims I can do it all, just like God.

To be “crushed in spirit” is to remember that I’m just dust.

God the Father never forgets this; He keeps our fragile frame in view at all times and treats us accordingly (Ps. 103:13). But we can be very quick to forget our own frail constitution. To curb our forgetfulness, we need to take long looks at God and stop making everything about ourselves.

Spend time in the Psalms and meditate on who God is. Don’t make them about you. Consider Him.

Go for a walk and consider a single aspect of creation. Are the leaves turning color? Why do they do that? Who programmed the tree to drop its leaves in the fall, lay dormant through the winter, and burst to life again in the spring? Who imagined every color dotting the landscape? Who holds every drop of that lake in His hand? Who counts every flake of snow that will fall this winter and knows every single star by name?

When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?  (Psa 8:3-4)

Consider God and remember that you’re dust.

Remember You’re Filthy

Not only do we repeatedly fall for the lie of our supposed divinity, we also mistakenly believe that we possess intrinsic righteousness. I may pay lip-service to the doctrine of depravity, but do I really believe that it applies to me? It’s much more palatable to believe that God saw something in me, a tiny spark that He knew He could nurture and cultivate into a trophy for His glory. It may not have been much, just a glimmer. Some believe that this glimmer was the choice we would make to accept Christ as our Savior. But, friends, this is a dangerous and deadly lie.

Consider what the Bible tells us about the condition of our hearts:

The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable ​– ​who can understand it?  (Jer 17:9)

Or what our supposed righteousness appears to God:

All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.  (Isa 64:6)

The New Testament doesn’t sugar-coat it either:

as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.  (Rom 3:10-12)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1)

Contrary to what Miracle Max says in The Princess Bride, when it comes to spiritual condition, there is no “mostly dead” and “slightly alive.” My friends, we are “all dead” without Christ.

To be crushed in spirit it to come to Christ with totally empty pockets and a spiritual bank balance of zero, recognizing that top-to-bottom, inside-out we are utterly bereft of anything that would make us acceptable to God.

The Crushed and the Crusher

Being crushed in spirit is zero fun, so this post has probably felt like a downer. I get that. But our story doesn’t end there. God doesn’t delight in leaving us as dead, dusty, filthy rags who are but specks in His sight. The promise in Psalm 34:18 is that “He saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We come as mica that He might make us into a diamond.

This salvation, too, came by way of crushing. Isaiah foretold what the Father would do to His only begotten Son:

Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished.  (Isa 53:10)

He was crushed that I, the dust speck, might live. He was bruised, broken, bloodied, and battered for me. He took the crushing weight of the cup of God’s wrath upon Himself that I might be adopted as a child of the king and accepted in Him. The heel of the woman’s seed was battered that day so that three days later He would rise again and in triumph crush the head of the duplicitous serpent.

This is the salvation promised to those crushed in spirit.

Remember that you are dust.

Remember that you are filthy.

Rejoice in the One who was crushed for you. It’s all about Him.


1 https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/mica/

2 https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h1793/nasb95/wlc/0-1/

2 thoughts on “From Dust to Diamonds

  1. Thank you for writing this. It is an excellent reminder. In the past few years I have started to acknowledge in my prayers that I am dust and that apart from Him I can do nothing. It is easy and tempting to fall into the lie, as you mention here, that I accomplished or got to where I am because of good works. It’s humbling to remember that I am dust and that although I am being crushed lately, it is a constant reminder of my complete dependence on Him.

    Like

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