Sometimes life is pretty hard isn’t it. Things happen to us, or we screw up badly, or situations outside of our control do us in.
Sometimes life gets messy and we feel lost rather than found. We got stuck or wandered off, meandered; ended up somewhere we didn’t think we’d be.
The silly thing is that I’m quite skilled at making out like I’m still on track; good at pretending that I’m still plodding along happily. I can hide my brokenness under busyness, easy lies or good deeds; I cover over the cracks with the right prayers, hands in the air and saying the right things. I stuff all my questions down, swallow my sorrow, or pretend it didn’t happen in the first place.
Hide it all away in the darkest corners and never talk of it again. Let’s face it, we all do it – much easier that way, right?
And then again, sometimes, I can’t hide.
Sometimes God interrupts. Gently points out that it’s time to deal with the pain or insecurity or anger; kindly nudges me.
Sometimes I can’t maintain the pretence and I need to let God in, let Him heal me, let Him restore, let Him make beauty instead of ashes.
Isn’t that a wonderful phrase, beauty instead of ashes. Isaiah had a brilliant way with words.
“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes…” [61:3]
Instead of piling ashes on our head, God will bestow a crown of beauty. Instead of us knowing a place of mourning and pain, we are revealed as beautiful, as royalty. For those around Isaiah, when he wrote this, the Jewish community understood ash on your head to be a symbol or sign of mourning or repentance or lament.
Isaiah 61 is also one of the many passages that points forward towards the rule and reign of God in Jesus. It’s a passage that Jesus quotes, claims as speaking about him.
This is part of what He came to do.
This is part of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus came, in part, to bestow a crown instead of ash. Restoring us from mourning to royalty. Taking our brokenness and turning it into something wonderful.
Recently, I’ve started asking God to heal those bits of me that need healing, to restore me that I might be part of restoring the rest of the world. I’ve been pondering on that line in Isaiah 58:8 that tells us:
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear…”
As we go, as we serve and love and let our lives reflect God’s heart for justice, somehow we are healed. God sneaks up and quickly heals those parts of us that hurt.
Justice is also part of God’s Kingdom. As we look outside of ourselves, serving those people who are down trodden, oppressed, forgotten, lonely; as we act justly and love mercy God will heal us. As we go, His light shines in our dark places and we become more of who we are meant to be.
So, today might we all open up our heart, and ask God to shine His light into those places of pain and mess and know His healing. May we serve those with less and know His healing.
May our light break forth.