Monday, May 17, 2010

An Image Reflected: Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:1-3
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 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.”

I have spent countless hours the past couple of years reflecting on how Kiley’s death might bring God glory and also work for the good of those who love Him. I think that He is finally showing me a piece of that. I believe there are greater things that will make better sense when He and I are able to sit down for a little Heavenly chat. But, for now, I will settle for the little morsel that He has thrown my way.

It is so easy to be entangled with the world. Living from day to day as if no afterlife existed is an easy trap to fall into in this day and age. In a country where just about everything imaginable is right at our fingertips, it is hard to really long for much else. On any given day, we simple have all we need. There isn’t a whole lot of room for thinking about a place called Paradise when we can hop on a plane bound for the Bahamas if we manage our gold well enough.

But death and loss change all that. They reorient our focus to what really matters. God uses death and loss to whet our appetites for not only our true homes, but Him. If there is one thing that we wealthy Americans can’t figure out, it is how to get back our loved ones. Death is the one guaranteed thing that we simply have no control over. And it leaves us at a loss as to how to proceed once we have tasted its bitter effects.

It seems ironic to me that God would work for the good in my life out of something as horrendous as my sister’s suicide. But, out of this tragedy, He gave me a true longing for home. Sure, I have always dreamed of Heaven. But, now, after Kiley left us, I ache for Heaven. Perhaps finally, my focus is in the right place. I think that God would say that is a good thing. Perhaps it is even something beautiful that has come out of the ashes. It is pretty exciting to ponder that I am being prepared in order to receive the fullness of joy that waits.

This quote by C. H. Spurgeon sums this idea up better than I ever could:

“Again; your Father doth not give you the good wine now, because he is giving you an appetite for it. At the old feasts of the Romans men used to drink bitter things, and all kinds of singular and noxious mixtures, to make them thirsty. Now, in this world, God is, as it were, making his children thirsty, that they may take deeper draughts of heaven. I cannot think that heaven would be so sweet to me if I had not first to dwell on earth. Who knoweth best the sweet of rest? Is it not the labourer? Who understandeth best the joy of peace? Is it not the man who hath dwelt in the land of war? Who knoweth most the sweetness of joy? Is it not the man who hath passed through a world of sorrow? Ye are having your appetites sharpened by these trials; ye are being made ready to receive the fulness of joy that is in the presence of God for ever.”

Thank you, God, for making me thirsty. Through many trials, toils, and snares, I have already come. But His grace is leading me home, where beauty will abound and ashes will be no more.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Love this! Beautiful picture and more beautiful words. Speaks to my heart more than you know.