What beautiful words these are! Beauty is all that is wonderful and glorious and good. Beauty is what we all want and need in our lives. Beauty is to be found in love and in life. There is the beauty of a friendship, the beauty of family and the beauty of one’s heart, just to name a few. We have been created in beauty and therefore to live fully, we must have beauty in our lives. This is how our Creator has ordained the world, the universe. But often times, Life can be unkind to our spirits and cause us to become broken inside. Something or someone beautiful in our life is taken away and what was beauty is burned away. What we are left with then is the remnants of what was a beautiful part of our lives. What Life leaves us with is the ashes.
The word beauty calls forth from our minds images and words that lift our hearts and brings abundance to our spirit, our soul. Does the word ashes illicit the same response from within us? No it does not. When you hear the word ashes, what comes to mind? For me, the images that present themselves in my mind are those of emptiness, of a vitality that is no longer present. Ashes are what is left when all else is gone. Have you ever sat before a bonfire on a cool evening and felt the warmth from the fire radiate towards you and perhaps watched the tendrils of smoke rise into the night sky, a haze against a blanket of stars? And remember as well the delicious crackling you would hear as you stared almost hypnotically into the flames, your mind gently wandering, drinking in the wonders of the night? I have had the privilege of doing so a number of times and the memories connected there are beautiful and sweet. But when the bonfire had spent itself and the embers had ceased their warm glow, all the remained was a mound of ashes which no longer spoke of a warming for the spirit and body. These ashes, these remnants now only offered up a kind of empty and quiet coldness, a sense of something now lost. I have never seen anyone sit in front of a bonfire whose life and light had burned itself out. Have you, my friend? I am sure you have not.
I suppose my point here is rather obvious. These two words beauty and ashes are completely opposite each other in that the feelings and memories we may have of them are dramatically different as well. And I might add that there is a scripture which states the God will give us beauty for our ashes. What the word ashes is referring to in this passage is what we have lost in our life as well as the pain and emptiness we have suffered because of it. So, if we have been afflicted with the ashes of loneliness due to the fact we do not have that special one to fill our being with a love that is true, God then is offering you the beauty of such a love. And if it is not around the next corner, it is not so far off really. Just be patient and ask for the wisdom to recognize it when it comes. Are you suffering the ashes of pain and of sorrow because of the loss of a loved one called away from our world too soon? This is a difficult one, to be sure. A person so afflicted can become angry and bitter and disengage themselves from what is their true self and become lost along the way. And from a human standpoint, it is hard to blame them for feeling this way. The words “God’s ways are not our ways” or “Have faith for it will all work out” become little more than platitudes and actually can make one in such a state even more bitter and angry. I have been there and I know the truth of this. And I wish for the benefit of those reading this that I could boldly say that I now understand it. But I do not, not completely. However, I do have peace concerning it now, an acceptance if you will as well as a belief that God still knows what it is He is doing even if I may not agree with it many times. And I no longer suffer the ashes of pain and of sorrow for the one that I lost now lives above as well as within my heart. The knowledge and peace I have concerning this, that is the beauty that God has given me in place of those cold and empty ashes.
What are the ashes that bring despair and hopelessness in your life? Is it the loss of a job and the lack of employment? God has promised you beauty for your ashes. Is there a marriage that has gone wrong or a family that is torn apart? God has promised you beauty for your ashes. Whatever our situation may be, God has stated clearly that He will take those cold, lifeless ashes you have within and will give you instead beauty in such abundance that it will overwhelm your heart and fill your spirit to overflowing so that you may bless others in return. Test Him upon this promise. Did you know that God wants us to, has actually requested that we ask, and ask believing that His promises are true? However, a word of caution here though, if I may. Remember that we live in a world of instant coffee, fast food and 24 hour ATM machines. So, we usually expect answers immediately, if not sooner. Take a breath, have sufficient faith and believe. We may not receive our beauty for ashes in the fashion we would expect or as quickly as we would want this to be accomplished. Know then that our Creator has a bit more wisdom than we do more often than not. So, have patience, believe and know that the beauty He has coming your way will be what you life needs and will also arrive at the proper time for God is never late with His promises nor does He fail to live up to those promises.
I will give you beauty for your ashes……How beautiful are these words? And who else but Our Creator would take unto Himself our emptiness and pain and give us in return incomprehensible beauty, fullness and joy? Give this some thought, my friends.
I thank you again for your kind attention here and send to you my prayers for blessing in the lives of you and yours.
William J. Thompson, Jr.