What is your story about ashes? We all have one. I know I have one. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more by the time I see Jesus face to face.
I’m curious about your story.
Ashes – The powdery residue left after the burning of a substance. Have you been there? I have. Maybe you’re there right now. Maybe you’re in the middle of the refining fire.
Last year I was left as ashes, but with Jesus, beauty ALWAYS rises from the ashes. I can testify to this truth, fully. For one year I was overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, panic, and depression (read the full story here http://poynterjourney.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/hello-world/ ). A loss of a loved one did not trigger this, no heart break, no major change in my life, I just woke up one normal day going about my business when fear crept up on me in the form of a panic attack. Just like that, my life was changed… forever.
I can never tell you that my journey was easy. It was the hardest thing that I have ever experienced in my life thus far. Each second felt like hours. Day terror, night terror, light headed, nauseous, pain, defeat, tears, fog. The list can go on and on.
It’s hard to believe this all happened to me now that I’m not going through it. I remember when I first walked out of the darkness and experienced my freedom from captivity. It didn’t necessarily feel immediate. I kept feeling like it was going to come back with a vengeance at any given moment. The memory haunted me. Then one day turned into two days and two into three. The seasons kept moving.
The other night I was in my living room floor (my get-away spot for late night prayer) praying over the day, seeking answers from the Lord. I was on my knees with my hands planted palm down in front of me- I opened my eyes and looked at my hands. These are my hands. These hands clinched together to pray intensely for healing, these hands covered my face when I could not look up, wiped tears away, held my head when I couldn’t lift it, reached out in worship, covered my ears because I was desperate for silence. These hands, right here in front of me – healed, whole, new.
I want you to know all of these details so that you can know that joy comes with the morning. It may not be tomorrow morning but it DOES come. When you know and trust Jesus Christ, there is hope that sings through the low places in our lives. Miraculous things happen when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. I knew God would rescue me. How did I know? His Word says so and I believe His Word.
When you’re in the darkest, loneliest pit it’s definitely easy to doubt, and I did – but at some point you have to tell those voices to shut up and CHOOSE to take God at His Word. My faith was tested BIG time. I remember questioning everything that I have every believed but then I thought about the alternative. In my hopeless thoughts I said, “Even if Jesus Christ and all that I have ever believed isn’t real, I don’t want the alternative” – to live a life full of worldly things and activities. Eating, drinking, shopping, socializing- they all leave you empty at the end of the day without a Savior.
I want you to know this because I don’t want you to read my blogs as if I just one day snapped out of all the darkness I was experiencing, or that my faith was rock solid the whole time I was oppressed. No, my friend, I was definitely being tossed around like a wave of the sea many, many times.
I used to think that I was burned to ashes during this whole process but I later realized that I wasn’t burned at all, it was everything else around me and in me that never belonged to me to begin with. Insecurity, pride, hurt, negative friends, fear, my past, everything that was not from the Lord- burned away.
Through the refining fire I became healed and whole. Hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people. God is raising up His children to restore them through His refining fire. Are you resisting? I did. Eventually I just let go.
Have you ever seen the movie, Finding Nemo? There is a part where Marlin and Dori are trapped in a whale. As the scene continues the whale wants to swallow the two fish. Marlin and Dori are hanging on to the whale’s tongue as it is trying to toss them down its throat. Dori, who is translating the whale language at this point, tells Marlin that it’s time to let go. Marlin, in fear, asks Dori how did she know if everything would be okay, to which she replied, “I don’t.” The two fish let go of the whale’s tongue and dropped into the unknown. Immediately, they were shot out of the whale’s blow hole and returned to the sea.
Who would think that a cartoon could be so relevant? The fact that they were immediately returned to safety amazes me. It reminds me of John 6:16-21. After Jesus had fed the five thousand he went away by himself to the mountain:
16 When evening came, his (Jesus’) disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Believe Him. If God could fling the planets into orbit (which isn’t even a big deal to Him), He can definitely walk you out of anything you’re going through.
The reason I asked your story at the beginning is because I believe you have a choice with your ashes. You can dust them off of you, rise up, and walk away as the beautiful masterpiece He created you to be OR you can lie there among the ashes, believing that you belong there, that God doesn’t have a plan for you, that your life is ruined, you’re a failure, you’re hopeless, you’re everything terrible that your parents said you were or all those lies that someone you were in a relationship with spoke over you. Just lying there – dead among the ashes.
In God’s economy beauty rises from the ashes. Dust yourself off. You were made to rise.