Beauty from ashes
When you think of ashes, what springs to mind? I think about the leftovers of a bonfire. Most of us love sitting around the fire pit with friends and family, making s'mores, snuggled up in blankets with the crisp night air washing over our face. The evening is filled with great conversation, laughing, and relaxing with the melodic crackle of the fire in the background. It's a charming scene to say the least.
How many of us go back the next day to sit around the fire pit full of just the ashes? I feel confident to say not even one of us! Ashes are not beautiful. They are grey, lifeless, messy and useless.
In our lives at times, we may feel like a pile of ash. The color of life has somehow faded or been drained from us. Our life may be messy or we may even feel lifeless or useless- like we are just going through the motions trying to survive each day. I am reminded of an experience I would love to share with you.
Many years ago, I lived just outside of Seattle, Washington. During my short time there, I picked up the neatest little souvenir that I still have to this very day. A local volcano that I could see from my apartment, Mount St. Helens had erupted back in 1980 and devastated the area. During a day trip to Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, I picked up a little dolphin carving. It was carved out of the ash from that volcano and it was BEAUTIFUL! Someone could see through the useless ash that sat as a reminder of a destructive time, and saw what beauty it could be instead. That person gave purpose to that ash that brought my personal space joy for many years.
With that in mind, I would like to share with you an excerpt from today's Jesus Calling devotional that had this powerful sentence in it...
"I can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams."
We hear the term "beauty from the ashes" in songs, devotionals and sermons. That term has always struck me deep in my soul. I feel the power and depth of it to my core. This saying comes from Isaiah 61:3 which says:
"...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy 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."
We could be here all day dissecting that one verse alone. But today, let's focus on "a crown of beauty instead of ashes." Our Heavenly Father, our magnificent Creator is capable of turning ANY situation into something beautiful. The Lord our God IS love and love is something beautiful. Therefore, anything he does is exactly that... beautiful. He is not limited in any way. In contrast, we are limited in every way. However, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 17:20 that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us! Jesus' sacrifice and the provision of the Holy Spirit, gives us power and ability through HIM!!
I have personally witnessed what he has done in my life and many lives around me and saying he is able to bring beauty out of the ashes is 100% truth! Once we surrender to his will, his way and his timing - everything changes!
What I read today deepened this scripture so more for me. I hadn't considered the Lord bringing beauty out of the ashes of my lost dreams. As children, we boldly and courageously dare to dream. It seems as adults, the wonderful art of dreaming often gets pushed onto the back burner or thrown out all together as we work, get married, raise kids, and tend to all of the duties on our life's never ending to do list. Dream??? Who has the time for it?
Friend, God desires for us to enjoy our lives! How can we explore what we love and want to do with our future if we dare not dream? Many years ago, I began creating vision boards. It's basically a huge poster board that is a collage of sorts, containing magazine cutouts, art, words, sayings or anything that would inspire dreaming out loud on paper. I would hang it up in a personal space for my eyes only (and my husbands lol). Years ago, I stopped decorating poster boards and started a binder. I call it my vision binder but it could also be considered a dream binder, prayer binder or whatever you wish. I would have "girls day" at my house and get friends together and we would spend the day creating pages in our binders, eating and hanging out which was always SO much fun!
My fun and inspirational binder has grown into multiple big binders over the years and it's amazing to look back and see all of the dreams that have come to fruition and revisit and consider some that may have not. Since I am creatively driven, this works for me. Some prefer having a dream journal. The key is... get back to dreaming! It's a lovely process and will start adding color back into what may feel like a grey world around you.
Just be sure that as you dream, you commit your plans to the Lord. (Proverbs 16:3) Pray for HIS will to be done in HIS perfect timing. (Matthew 6:10) Thank him for caring about the details of your life, even your dreams. Stay encouraged!