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Posts Tagged ‘sackcloth and ashes’

MP900070786[1]Like many other areas this time of year, we are battling wildfires which thrive on vegetation dried out by the hot summer sun. Two large fires, one to the south and one to the north have painted our skies with a hazy smoke cover.

The strong smell of burning timber and the fine film of ash that settles everywhere are clear evidence that those fires continue to rage and a barrage of firefighters fight to save homes and control the burn.

Ash is certainly a symptom of troubled times. The Bible refers to ashes as a symbol of repentance and grief. Men dressed in sackcloth and ashes when crying out to God as an outward sign of their humility and sincerity in their need for mercy.

For the last few evenings I’ve walked out on my deck to watch the sunset. It has been overwhelmingly beautiful, the smoky haze creating vivid reds and pinks as the sun sinks behind the hills.

I am reminded over and over of the phrase “Beauty for Ashes” when evening falls and I’m surrounded by the artistry of God where light through ashes creates a priceless masterpiece.

God always uses the tough and tragic times in our life to move us to a place of beauty if we let Him. Job suffered greatly and was restored to a point far beyond his losses. Moses was exiled from his beloved home only to return as the Deliverer of people. Joseph’s story is a classic tale of beauty for ashes.

The common threads between these stories, and many others, are acceptance, obedience and unwavering faith. God always wants to bring us to a better place but He needs our cooperation.

If the sun refused to shine because the smoke blocked its rays, none of these gorgeous sunsets would occur. If I refuse to trust and do what I am called to do because tears are the order of the day, I will never experience God’s great mercy that picks me up, sets me on my feet again and allows me a vision of my future made more brilliant because it’s been washed by those tears.

I’m thanking Him today for this reminder, handed to me as I stand on my deck on a soft summer evening, watching the miracle of ashes for beauty.

Is 61:3 :…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them 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.”

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MP900178785[1]Never in my entire Chrstian life have I prayed as often or as desperately as I have this past week. There is someone I love beyond measure possibly facing a life challenge that I would spare her at any cost.

I’m sure you’ve been there, when you wake up over and over during the night, a name is on your lips and your mind goes instantly to prayer. When it’s all you can do,  you do it with a fervor you’ve never known before.

I read a fellow blogger’s post this morning and it spoke to me so deeply I have to share it. Here’s the link: http://pausingtopraise.wordpress.com/author/sheilacampbell  

From her post, I quote these words:

I read the prayer of Moses in Deuteronomy 9: 25, “Thus I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the LORD,…” And I read the prayer of Daniel, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” [Daniel 9:3] Both of these men were interceding on behalf of their nation that had rebelled and turned away from God. They were earnestly pleading for God’s mercy in the lives of others.

I am reminded that in the great scheme of things my faith is shallow.  I think I have come so far in trust and belief, and I have. But I have many miles to go before I can really count this a successful journey.

My hope and my light is in the fact that while I am changing every day, God is not. His promise to hear my prayers and answer each one doesn’t contain the codicil that I must first attain a level of fervency or sacrifice. If you don’t know what a codicil is – it’s wording that amends but does not replace a previous statement. God’s original promise stands as given.

When Moses prostrated himself and when Daniel smeared his face with ashes, it got God’s attention, touched his heart, drew his compassion.

When I cry out from my comfortable bed with my head on a soft pillow or sit at my desk, mascara and blush carefully applied and tailored outfit perfectly color coordinated, I get the same response Moses and Daniel did. Thank God for that!

I want my prayer life to go deeper and I want my walk to be more committed. I want the blinding light of Christ to be all that people see when they look at me. I know I’m not close to where I want to be . I have much work to do for sure.

But in the meantime, I am so humbly grateful for a God who takes me where I am, listens to my faltering voice, collects my tears in His bottle and loves my every effort no matter how small.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

 

 

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