Beauty for Ashes Part 1
To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory. (Isa. 61:3)
“Beauty for ashes” is a personal promise from God for my life. I remember a couple of years ago, I found myself in a really painful and ugly situation. The longing of my heart was for restoration of what I had lost and to see the words of Isaiah 61 unfold across the pages of my life. I remember praying again and again to the father, “I need to see the beauty spring from the ashes of my broken situation.” And although over time, I began to see evidence of what I thought to be the Lord working out my situation, I reached a point where things cycled back downward and I ended up with more ashes than I started with. Anyone been there before? Not a fun place. Needless to say, after having my hopes dashed (again), I didn’t pray the same. The words “beauty for ashes” did not grace my lips. Mostly because I don’t think I believed anymore that those words truly applied to me. It seemed too risky to pray those types of prayers anymore, because after all, what if my prayers weren’t answered and I only ended up even more broken? I went into full on survivor mode. Life at this point was about simply managing my pain, getting through my to-do list and trying to regain some semblance of normalcy.
I am so grateful that just because we give up hope, it doesn’t mean God does. After all, He is Hope.
Floating off into sleep one night, an image appeared in my mind that shook me back awake. I saw a gift bag, sitting on a small table, begging to be opened. The gift tag read in gold lettering, “Restoration 61.” Through that simple dream, God reminded me of all the times I had sat in my room, poring over the words of Isaiah 61. He reminded me of all the times I had cried out to Him for restoration. It all of a sudden became very clear to me that just because I had given up on those prayers that God hadn’t given up on his plan to answer them. His gift of restoration and his promise to make the broken things in my life beautiful once again remained. His promises were still for me.
His promises are for all of us.
Everything I am and everything I hinge my life on depends on the fact that God brings light to darkness, death to life and beauty from ashes. Isn’t that why we celebrate Easter? My Savior, My King, My Best Friend willingly allowed Himself to be broken and crushed so that I could be made whole. He allowed His flesh to be crucified, so that my spirit could be resurrected. He allowed Himself to be buried, so that everything in me could rise and come into alignment with the woman He has called and destined me to be. He allowed Himself to be covered with the filth, disgust and shame of my sin, so that I could experience what it’s like to walk in righteousness, holiness and purity, unashamed. He is the same today, as He was then. He is still the loving Father that offers us this great exchange. Beauty not ashes, Blessing not mourning. Praise not despair.