August 30, 2010

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

*Matthew Perryman Jones, Feels Like Letting Go bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes." ~Isaiah 61

This last year has been hard. Heart-stompin' hard. Unruly really.

An exciting life-changing expectation I nurtured for years went up in flames. It burned me bad. Hope. Faith. Daring. Belief. Happiness. They were consumed in the blazes with me. We smoldered, then fell down in a heap of cold ashes, surrounded by why's and how come's.

The expectation I waited on was not a passing flight of fancy. It was solid and sure. A promise I earnestly believed was from the Lord. Believing it would happen…staying the course…was fierce and exhausting, exhilarating and thrilling. Then, in a flash, years of intense hope, excruciating faith, and dogged tenacity disintegrated to lumps of coal. My heart was done. My soul crushed. The ashes seemed a proper place to fall as I took account of the damage done.

Watching my expectation waft away, a keen awareness the ash heap isn't where I'm meant to be flooded me. But I haven’t mustered the umph to get up quite yet, despite the great encouragement I’ve had. The Lord has unwaveringly kneeled in the soot next to me this past year, promising me "This isn't the end. Get up. It's time to leave this heap. If you give Me the ashes, I'll do something with them. Something beautiful."

Just the other day, He reminded me again. In the midst of 18,000 others at a concert.

It was barely noticeable on the outer edge of her right foot, propped up in my line of sight. Permanently scripted in a swirly feminine font. Contrasting with the black masculine tattoo ink....

Beauty for ashes

I can't deny that tattoo was a spring breeze to my scorched soul. And I heard Him say again, "If you give Me the ashes, I'll do something with them. Something beautiful."

It's tempting to tie this up with a pretty bow and a big, "Woo-hoo! I saw that tattoo and now I'm getting out of the ashes!" But I won’t. Cause I want to be real, and real is the fact that I can't see redeeming qualities from the years spent waiting and trusting. Or how any beauty can come from such disappointment and confusion.

But real is also my commitment I made to keeping this blog as a way to share testimonies of God's goodness. Even if it's from the viewpoint of the ash heap. And what I see is a faithful God. One who stands by me. One who redeems - all things. One who trades beauty for ashes. One worthy of my trust. And I'm trusting that that knowledge is the spark I need to light a new fire...

How about you? Can you relate?

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." ~Hebrews 11