Monday, November 26, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

It was a clear, winter day and I was sitting on the family room floor making valentines. I was 8 years old and didn’t have a care in the world. I was enjoying the moment I was in and safe in the comfort of my home with my mom close by in the kitchen.

That’s the last thing I remember before I heard my mother’s panicked voice hollering out, “It’s a fire!” 

I looked up and there I saw the kitchen curtains engulfed in flames. My mom tried putting the fire out, but her main concern was my safety.

We ran outside to get away from the smoke. A gentleman who had seen the smoke from the post office next door ran over to our house, grabbed a hose, busted a window and put the fire out.

Later on that day, we went back inside to assess the damage. In a matter of minutes, the flames had completely destroyed our kitchen, and the smoke had damaged most of our house. 

We never stayed in that house another day. We packed up our salvageable items and moved in with my grandparents for a few months. My parents made the decision to build a new house a few miles away. It was months before our beautiful, new home was completed.           

My life had been turned upside down by the rampant flames that raged through my house on that winter day. It was difficult to have my life so shaken up, but knowing a beautiful home was being built for my family helped to ease the difficulties. I remember visiting the new home often to see the progress that was being made.

I’ll always remember the day I first saw my completed bedroom with the brand new carpet I picked out myself. It was breathtaking—nothing like my young heart had ever experienced. It was almost more than I could take in at once. It was amazing. After losing my old home and many of the things I had been attached to, the new home was sweetness to my soul.

The new life Christ has given me is much like the new home I moved into after the fire during my childhood. Before I fully surrendered my life to Christ's purposes for me, fiery trials swept through my life and destroyed many things that were important to me. After surrendering everything to Jesus, He rebuilt my life and turned the ashes of my past into a beautiful display of splendor.

I remember times when I wondered if I would ever have beauty in my life again. The stress of a struggling marriage relationship, the tension from strained finances, and not being physically well—it seemed impossible. 

As I wrestled to believe, my faith won and things began turning around for me. Step by step, Christ renewed my marriage, restored our finances, and taught me ways to improve my health. 

When we believe things are hopeless, then we will have a hopeless life. When we teeter on the fence of disbelief, we miss out on the miracles the Bible promises we will see. 

In 2009, I made a commitment to stop doubting God forever. Whenever a doubtful thought taunts me, I meditate on the scriptures to bring life to a worn out and weary spirit. Doubt cannot penetrate a heart that is fixated on the truth of God’s Word.

Christ has good plans to give every person a future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He is the redeemer and restorer of broken lives.

Are you struggling to believe God for good things? Leave fear and doubt behind and begin believing that Christ is the author of beauty. Surrender it all to Him and watch as He rebuilds and recreates the beautiful life He longs to give all His children. 

Trust Him to give you beauty to replace the pain of your past. He will bestow on you a crown of beauty instead of ashes and He will give you the oil of gladness instead of mourning. He will plant you firmly in His promises to be displayed as a glorious vessel of His magnificent splendor.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and 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 a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61: 1-3

Live Abundantly!

This post has been revised from a piece originally written several years ago. The above picture is one of me at the Biltmore House gardens. 

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