It was a milestone day for little Micah Nathan, two and a half weeks old. His belly button cord fell off. This is good news, since diapering will be simplified, and he can now be submerged at bath time.
I remember clearly when our first baby’s cord fell off. Thirty seven years ago, hospitals tied them with white string. Each time I changed Nelson’s diaper, that cord stub was a wonder to me. He and I had been linked together in God’s detailed design, sharing food and oxygen. But the birthing process had separated us, also God’s plan.
In the blush of new motherhood, I remember the day I unsnapped newborn Nelson’s sleeper and found his cord stub, dried and useless, separated form his tummy. To medical personnel it would have been trash, but to me it was precious. I knew I needed to do something special with it, but what?
I set this bit of dried skin on the bathroom window sill to think about later. It was protected from view by a curtain, so I knew no one would throw it away. Working with the needs of our colicky new baby, I promptly forgot about it until two years later.
We were moving, and when I took the curtains down, there it was, along with a quick Bible lesson. Just as God says in Scripture, we truly are made of dust. There on the window sill was a tiny pile of what looked like dust encircled by a bit of once-white string.
Had Nelson’s cord actually morphed into real dust? I cupped my hands around it and blew. Sure enough, it flew away. I thought about Adam and Eve being molded from the ground. God actually says, “Out of the ground you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) Coming upon our baby’s cord-dust was a glimpse into our human past, but also a power-packed statement about the reliability of the Bible.
There’s another scriptural reference to dust, this one with a positive spin on it. God lets us know he thoroughly understands our weaknesses, so gives us extra grace based on our “dusty-ness” rather than extra punishment based on our inability to measure up. I guess God knew not to expect too much from a pile of dust.
I’m thankful for my biblical lesson from Nelson’s cord and the reminder of it when Micah’s cord came off today. God’s teachings are all around us, particularly in nature, and I can’t think of anything more natural than our origin being from dust. But there’s an epilogue to the lesson of the cord. God is planning to override the natural finality of our dusty-ness by providing brand new bodies not made from dust.
He labels them “glorified”, and we’ll be housed in these new versions of our old selves throughout eternity. We can be sure they won’t decompose into dust at the other end of life in heaven, because there will be no other end!
Just one question remains. Will our new bodies have belly buttons?
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him, for he knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)