Thursday, September 28, 2006
...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. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
This is one of my favorite scripture. I keep it book marked on the website where I do my research. To me, this verse is God’s way of saying, “Trade ya.”
Did you ever trade things when you were a kid? A bologna sandwich for a cupcake at lunch? A Snickers for a Milky Way at Halloween? Did you ever regret it, wonder afterward if you got ripped off?
Isaiah talks about trade with God. No doubt, it’s a good trade. Here’s my ashes, mourning and despair. In return I get a crown of beauty, the oil of gladness and a garment of praise. So why do we hesitate to make the trade?
I’m not just referring to salvation but to our daily lives. The sadness we carry around in our chests, the disappointment, bitterness and grief.
Ashes are the burned out remnants of destruction. What things in our lives have burned down around us and still, we carry an urn to remind ourselves of our loss. Nothing there but soot and no reason to stay there but we won’t give it up. If my house burned to the ground, how many of you would let me sit in the rubble? I think none.
I believe if my home caught fire, there’d be a line of you to come get me and take me home. I am certain you’d be there to clean me up and start rebuilding my life for me. You love me too much to leave me in the ashes of what used to be.
Likewise, if I lost a loved one; would you come to me? Would you gather around to hold me, wipe my tears away and whisper in my ear that you are going to carry me through? Would I ever sit alone in a funeral home staring death without you to comfort me and give me strength to move on?
Could any tragedy ever befall me that would cause you to tell me to give up? Would you ever advise me to stop trying? If I called you in the middle of the night to tell you I’d lost hope, I think you’d be knocking on my front door before I could hang up the phone.
I believe this all to be true.
If we can love one another like this; we need to learn to trust in God’s love with no less surety.
I wonder if we don’t want the trade after all. I see no other reason for the Children of God to remain in the ashes.
I can only speak for myself and tell you that for reasons beyond my comprehension; I don’t always want to wear a garment of praise. I like to watch the ashes run through my fingers and feel so sweetly sorry for myself.
How I must hurt the Lord when I refuse his trade.
Margie asked on another blog what it means to be righteous. I can’t cover every nuance here. But I think we have a point of departure if we take the trade Christ is offering.
God, make me an oak of righteousness by taking away the charred remains of my own self-destruction. I will praise instead of dwelling in despair. I will lift up my head and stop grieving the times and trials I’ve gone through and I will accept gladness instead.
God, display your splendor in me.
I’ll take the trade.