Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Beauty From Ashes

"Provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."-Isaiah 61:3

She was young and ordinary - a poor Jewish girl. But dwelling in the innermost parts of her being there burned a heart that reverently feared God, sacrificially obeyed Him, and willingly let go. She was entrusted with a sacred secret: a promise from Yahweh. It was a promise that she treasured and tucked away most dearly. She would carry the One who tells the oceans how far they can go, the One who’s words can catch a falling star, the One who would conquer death to give us victory, the One who holds us when we’re broken. Mary would carry THE One. She would bear this child for nine months and then experience hard labor, feed Him, change His diapers, teach Him to read, comfort Him when He was hurt, tuck Him in bed at night (maybe with a few bedtime stories), but, in the end, she would let Him go.

As I ponder this amazing story, I am overwhelmed. How could anything beautiful come out of letting her Son go? Mary had to watch her promise, her Son, be tortured, battered, bruised, and then crucified on a cross.

We, as Christians, experience trials and we ask, “Why?” But our finite minds cannot grasp the big picture. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul states, “We only know in part...” We don’t know the finished artwork yet! Mary saw what (in the natural) looked like a complete failure, when in reality, it was a battle won! What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good!

There have been numerous times when I’ve had to undergo a “sackcloth and ashes” experience. But ultimately, Christ was the Lifter of my head! He has been the one who has dried my tears when I have cried out to Him! He truly has taken my sackcloth and ashes and has given me His robe of beauty and joy!I know many have (or even at present) are going through difficult times. But please understand me when I say that it is possible to have peace in the midst of a storm.

Think of it this way: Even in a great tempest with violent winds and torrents of rain, a bird is able to sleep peacefully and remain on a swaying branch because its claws were designed to lock themselves for stability, regardless of the circumstances. In the same way, in our personal storms, we as Christian girls have to cling to Jesus! We need to run desperately after Him!

Young men and women, I encourage you that even in the most treacherous hurricane there is calmness found in the eye (the center) of the storm. Why was Jesus able to sleep soundly during the storm? Because inside He was at peace with the Father! He trusted and knew that His Abba Father was faithful and would see Him through! The same with us, even when the situation looks like it is all but ashes, God by His grace, can make something that looks so bleak and ugly so very beautiful – in His perfect timing!

Romans 8:28 – “For God works all things together for good, to them that love God and who are called according to His purpose.”

As I close, I want to encourage you with the lyrics to this powerful song called Still, by Reuben Morgan from Hillsongs Australia. Ponder these words as you exchange your ashes for His beauty: Hide me now under Your wings / Cover me within Your mighty hand // When the oceans rise and thunders roar / I will soar with You above the storm / Father, You are King over the flood / I will be still and know You are God // Find rest my soul in Christ alone / Know His power in quietness and trust