O Lord, now I have heard your report, and I worship you in awe for the fearful things you are going to do. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. In your wrath, remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 TLB
God gives beauty for ashes.
The reason I can say that with certainty is because He has done that for me.
I know… it can look like it is never going to be okay again.
(I have been there.)
I have sat in the ashes of my life, so stunned; heart hurting.
I was beyond any ability to think clearly; to feel anything but my pain.
When the unthinkable happens to you, you can’t think. All you see is the destruction all around you.
When God shows up!
And in His Presence, with His intimate loving grace all around you? You discover your first real hope in the midst of your devastation, because—God’s Presence is real. He is tender, and kind, and strong. His words pick you up—carry you forward.
How do I know?
He picked me up, carried me, for twelve weeks until I could walk for myself again.
Will He come for you?
Yep, though I really have no idea how He will show up, or when. I only know that He will, because I am sure, His presence is always seeking us; willing to speak to us; longing to whisper loving words into our broken and charred souls.
You can begin again because… He is FOR you.
I believe that. He is for you—no matter what has happened to you.
So, with that said, I want to share something I wrote in my journal the first day the Holy Spirit walked into my ashes. (Yeah, I have been there.) But with all my heart, I hope you will hear His heart for you, too.
(But first, a little background.)
I remember after my accident the first faint whispers God spoke.
I sat every day in the ashes of my “burned-down-life” for about twelve weeks. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to recover from the devastation.
A weariness had enveloped me that was beyond anything I had ever experienced before, and into that place—God came.
I wish I could tell you I was in this super-spiritual, believing-Believer mode, but the truth is? I was trying to contemplate living my life without God.
My disappointment went far beyond my anger at my circumstances. I just wanted to be “finished” with all the believing church stuff, and God and I both knew it!
And… that had been our deal from the time I had returned from “the world,” a beat-up prodigal, who didn’t believe “a God of love” even existed.
My heart-to-heart “deal” with God was—no head-faking-bull. Period. Total transparency. “Bare-hearted” honesty about where I really was, and what I really thought, at all times.
Now, here I was, trying to decide whether my return to “The Church” had been just another mistake to add to my long list of, “I’ll never do that again!
I wanted nothing to do with a God like this One.
Where was all that “under-His-wing protection” I had been believing for?
No… I was not in a very spiritual place. But, that’s what makes the following so incredible to me, even all these years later.
God hears every thought of our hearts and minds. Nothing. NOTHING is hidden from Him. Even in our anger and utter brokenness… He comes softly. Unexpectedly. Whispering words of such incredible tenderness.
When we will allow Him to comfort us… He Speaks...
Yes, you… sitting in the ashes.
These ruins you see all about you? They are not who you are.
They are not your final destination… (or your destiny) I AM! (Colossians 1:26-27)
You are in Me and I AM in you. Our two lives are as inseparable as a brook that flows into a river. (Ephesians 2:4-6) Where does the brook end and the river begin?
(Ha… you can’t tell Me!)
That’s how it is with us… (Ephesians 1: 16-20) My life flowing in you… your life flowing in Me.
You look at these ashes and think, “It’s all over now.” You see ruins where once stood bright hopes and shining dreams, and you think, “What’s the use of dreaming?”
But, Sweet Heart, look up.
Turn those tear-filled eyes toward Me. (Matthew 5:4)
The God who rescued me
I AM still here.
(You are still here.)
We are not going to dwell forever in… this place.
This is only for a moment in your eternity. (A wink!) (Revelation 22:1-7) I AM your true Vine… (John 15: 1) not your dreams. Your life flows from Me… not from people, possessions, or calling. (Psalm 39:7)
Come… dry those eyes. Life is not over… only changed. (But remember what I told you?) “I do not change!” I AM the One you can always count on. I AM the Foundation that does not move. (Matthew 7:25)
We will be leaving here soon. As we step out of these ashes to begin again? You will see Me transform these ashes of yours into radiant beauty.
“To all who mourn… He will give beauty for ashes.” Isaiah 61:3
“God is the Champion at bringing people from a place of destruction to a place of total victory. As they reach that place of victory they become trophies of his grace, and they are set on display as a fragrant reminder of God’s goodness.” ― Joyce Meyer, Beauty for Ashes