Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beauty And Ashes

When I was eight years old, I had a dream that our house was on fire. With flames blazing out of control, I watched helplessly as my home burned to the ground. Filled with fear, I awoke startled and confused. Through prayer, I regained my peace at God's presence comforted me.

Ironically, only weeks later, my family’s home burned to the ground. Furniture. Clothing. Toys. Photographs. Everything was gone. All that remained was a smoldering pile of ash. My family had no choice but to start over. Looking back, I now see that the fire was actually a new beginning. For in time, God made beauty from ashes.

It was the first of many fires in my life. Career. Finances. Relationships. I have watched helplessly as each have burned in the fires of refinement in different seasons. At times, all seemed lost. Yet, without fail, God has made something beautiful from the ashes left behind. In every loss, I see God's unfailing love covering me like a warm blanket on a cold winter's night.

When the flames of refinement burn wildly out of control, I recall the way God uses fire for His glory. We are told, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10 NIV) As we walk in the fire, God is at work, strengthening and preparing us for His purpose. Be assured, “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV) Eventually, the flames will die. The smoke will clear. The ash will cool. Yet, beauty remains.

Periodically, life heats up for all of God's children. In the smoldering fires of loss, God creates something new and beautiful in our lives. Though the fire seemingly bring destruction, we must always remember that all is not lost. For a time is coming when God will “bestow on 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.” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV) Without fail, God trades beauty for ashes.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Loss is so painful. As our hearts break, help us be mindful of your presence. Draw us near and bring comfort as only you can, Lord. And let us not forget that you shall restore all that has been lost and trade beauty for ashes.

Reflection: How is God refining you today and how may I pray for you?

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