Empire of Dirt

Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” was in my head all week. It’s a powerful, thought-provoking song that has searing words. It’s sad and uplifting at the same time.

He, most notably, covered this song seven months before his death in 2003. Check it out below.

While the NIN song does have a couple choice words, Cash (IMO) covered it only as Cash could cover it. Personally, I love it.

More than anything a single phrase sticks with me in that song: “empire of dirt”.

Truth is: we go throughout our lives collecting stuff – awards, wins, creations, accolades. We achieve. We score. We create. We succeed.

All for what?

Paul writes in Romans that, ““None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

In short, all mankind is under the guilt and weight of sin.

But… that is not the end.

Enter, grace.

I want my life-intentions to serve God, first and foremost. But no doubt there will be times when I put ‘me first’: I want to close the sale for my glory. I want to serve that couple in need at church for my glory. I want to donate money to your mission trip for my glory.

In those moments, I need grace.

And in those moments, I want to be able to tell God “Here, have this empire of dirt that I’ve collected. It’s nothing compared to your glory.”

::

What collects in your ’empire of dirt’?
What is your favorite “cover song”?

19 Comments

  • arny

    February 17, 2012

    Question 1: my songs to him. HE gave the words. I must not forget that.

    Question 2: John Meyer’s cover of Tom Pettys Free Fallin (i seriously repeated that song like 20 times back to back.)

    Johnny C…rip.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 17, 2012

      good cover… and it’s an easy play on the guitar! :)

      Reply
  • moe

    February 17, 2012

    In my empire of dirt you can find a mix of stuff in which you can make a tower of dirt that reaches unto the heavens. He did confuse my language and turned the language of sin into the language of grace and destroyed my tower. Now I rejoice in the pool of grace speaking a tongue only my savior can know (there may be some HOLLA’s up in there).

    Good stuff bro.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 17, 2012

      thanks, moe. I like that “rejoice in a pool of grace”… in a pool you can’t help but get completely soaked.

      Reply
  • Stephen Haggerty

    February 17, 2012

    Really like this song. That man was such a brilliant singer/songwriter- the music world of 2012 certainly misses him.

    Love your thoughts on empires of dirt. I also hate it, ’cause it’s really dang convicting! But I appreciate the reminder that I’m not taking anything with me after this life, and to live for the eternal moments. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 17, 2012

      Absolutely…. Caedmon’s Call had this song back in the day with the lyrics, “This world has nothing for me and this world has everything”. So true… we’re not taking anything with us, right? :)

      Reply
  • tom

    February 17, 2012

    Great reminder Dustin…empire of dirt. What will we build on today…Glory, glory , glory!

    Reply
  • Ally Garner

    February 17, 2012

    Hmm. Funny I was just praying over this issue last night. There’s a certain older person in my life that I do and do for, but rarely with any acknowledgment, much less a simple thank you. It has unnerved me to no end. Why? Because as much as I don’t want to admit it, I do kind things hoping to be pleasing to that certain someone. And I know the reason I do kind things should never be about another person but always about pleasing God. Pride. Empires of dirt, indeed. Would really appreciate your prayers to conquer this selfish attitude in me, y’all. Thank you.

    I loved this post Dustin. Thank you and please keep the Christian Living posts coming!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 21, 2012

      Absolutely – that’s why we’re all here, right? :) And thanks for the encouragement!

      Reply
  • John

    February 17, 2012

    I love Johnny Cash. It was because of his music that I met and became acquainted with the girl who would become my wife. His music will always be a part of our story.

    My empire of dirt sadly includes all the things I do for my church. I get so caught up in them and think I’m doing such a great job and making such a difference, then I realize, I’m not the one making the difference here. God is. I work and serve too often for recognition.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 21, 2012

      Yeah, I know how you feel John – I’m a people pleaser so often my actions reflect that (sadly)…

      Reply
  • Jason Vana

    February 17, 2012

    There’s a lot in my empire of dirt. I tend to struggle somewhat with insecurity, so I find myself “collecting” likes and retweets and comments and even text messages and letters as affirmations of who I am. Not a pretty thing, for sure.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 21, 2012

      Yet something that many of us (myself included) can relate to. Thanks for sharing, Jason.

      Reply
  • Larry Hehn

    February 18, 2012

    That’s my favorite video/cover of all time right there. I go back to that video whenever I need some perspective on how fleeting and temporary earthly treasures are.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      February 21, 2012

      Agreed. Thanks for the comment, Larry!

      Reply
  • Jon

    February 21, 2012

    -I know that someone else had mentioned it, but people pleasing is definitely part of my ’empire of dirt’ so to say. I have to think at time what are my intentions of doing something…is to glorify God or just for my own gain.

    -That question is such a hard one…I really love Boyce Avenue w/Kina Grannis’ take on Fast Car by Tracy Chapman.

    Reply

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