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Beauty for Ashes

I have a new phrase – I have borrowed it from a friend, because it so completely describes my state of mind lately.  When my friend Beth has her heart touched by a song, the phrase she uses goes something like this…”Don’t those lyrics just wreck you?”  That’s about as precise as it gets….  the truth of what she is hearing is reaching deep into her soul, destroying every pre-conceived notion she has of who or what God is and how He feels about her, and reducing her to more than tears as she is wrapped in His loving embrace and awakened again to the beauty of everything He is.

Beth, if that is not what you mean, I apologize, but when you say that, that is what I hear, knowing your precious heart.  And the reason that is what I hear is because that is what He does to me.  As I begin to fathom just the smallest portion of the depth of the great love He has for me – for us – I am so overwhelmed with gratefulness and wonder and amazement and healing and peace that all I can do is sit in His beautiful presence and bawl…  I am wrecked.  But oh, how I love being wrecked.  How I love having Him tear down the walls of all I have ever thought, speaking peace and love over me that as much as I cannot fathom it, I feel it and breathe it so deeply that it literally becomes life to me – He is truly the air I breathe every morning…

We sang a song by Christy Nockels last week – Waiting Here for You – and just one phrase has completey done me in almost every morning this past week….  “You’re the author of Salvation… You loved us from the start.”  This morning, as I was reading, a Scripture I wasn’t even using for study caught my eye… Isaiah 61:1 and 3  “He has sent me….  to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”   OH, what love…  in between those two phrases, He has come to comfort those who mourn… why are they mourning?  Because of the calamity that has come upon them.  Why calamity?  Because of their sin.  What is He doing?  He is coming to give them beauty for ashes.  Why?  Because He has already forgotten their sin.  They are beloved to Him.. He loved them from the start.  He is coming to give them the garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness that has come from their sin.  He is removing the burden – the stain – and replacing it with joy and gladness.Nothing they have done, nothing they can do, has earned His love – He has loved them from the start.

“He demonstrates His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…”  Romans 5:8.   Before we came to Him, He came for us.  We did not take the first step. He did.  He will not turn us away when we reach for Him, I don’t care what the state of our sinfulness is, I don’t care what the state of our hearts – if you want a right heart, reach for Him.  He will make it right.  If you want clean hands, lift them to Him – He will cleanse them.  He will bathe you in His love and beauty as you simply humble yourself before Him.  If you want to be released from false pride, sit before Him and pour your heart out.  He will meet you where you are.  It doesn’t matter where you are, HE WILL MEET YOU. He already took the first step.  Oh my precious friend, His love for you is greater than your sin, than your doubt, than your concerns, even greater than your propensity to make the same mistakes over and over.   He is greater than it all.

… because He Is.  The Great I AM is no small matter, and you, my friend, are in the very forefront of His heart and mind.  You were HIS IDEA.  Sit before Him.  Reach your arms out to Him.  Let Him wreck you with His love…. there is no greater cleansing, and He is so beautiful… Go ahead and sit there before Him in the ashes of your sin and doubt and disbelief and fear and loss and pain…  and while you sit, beg Him to come.  When you rise, your ashes will be gone, your faith will be stronger, and you will see… the beauty of Grace.

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