Recently I was praying for someone whom I care about deeply and my heart ached. As I upheld them in prayer, I exclaimed, “God, their life is surrounded by piles of ashes!” Those piles of ashes represented broken relationships, bygone dreams and poor life choices that had resulted in devastation. Momentarily, my heart despaired, and I could no longer pray. If only help had come sooner, I mused. If only they had never met that person. If only they had not taken that detour … if only … if only. Despair tried to settle on my heart like a wet blanket, smothering my hope and causing my thoughts to spiral downwards. I sighed a deep sigh. If only …
Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted as the promises of Isaiah 61 came to mind. I recalled that Jesus came so that the broken-hearted could be healed and the captives could be set free. I remembered that He was anointed and qualified to give beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of despair.
Those piles of ashes were not insurmountable in the eyes of God. He could transform them into something beautiful. Nothing was impossible for my God and, with renewed hope, I proclaimed that fact. Our God brings beauty out of the ashes and I dare to believe it.
Actually, to not do so is to be hypocritical because that is exactly what He did in my life. Perhaps others looked at me and were disheartened, sighing, “If only…” God, on the other hand, not deterred by my piles of ashes, heard my desperate cry and transformed my ashes into beauty. If He can do it for me, then He can do it for you also.
Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song back in 1971 that expresses my testimony in a few sentences: ‘Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.’
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. I don’t regret the day that I surrendered my ashes to God and the restoration process began. With a grateful heart, I thank my God for ‘redeeming my life from the pit and corruption and for beautifying, dignifying and crowning me with His loving-kindness and tender mercy’ (Psalm 103:4 Amplified Bible). He will do the same for you, if you’ll surrender your ashes. I’m convinced that this is true.
Prayer: Father God, thank You, thank You, thank You that You exchange our ashes for Your beauty. I surrender my life to You afresh today. Have Your way. Have Your way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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