Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I'm starting this blog on Ash Wednesday, so I thought I'd title it "Ashes to Beauty" in reference to a favorite scripture in 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.

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate Bible study and conversation among my circle of sisters in Christ. It's a way to get us together when we aren't able to physically be together.

This could last two days, or it could last longer! We'll see!

It's interesting that the song to which the LORD has led me as a theme for this season in our church life is "Carrier," which quotes the Isaiah scripture above. We know that in Luke 4 Jesus proclaimed this scripture was fulfilled in him. I am earnestly praying that the LORD will birth in all of us a fresh passion for participating in this mission - preaching the good news, binding up the broken-hearted, comforting those who mourn, and I could go on repeating the whole scripture! These things are on my heart afresh this week as the precious students at our high school are walking through a valley of great sorrow.

I am reminded of a transcendent moment in the LORD I experienced several years ago in Yellowstone National Park. We traveled through many acres of forest devastated by fire - charred stumps and ruin. Yet flourishing anew amid the ashes were glorious flowers. It was such a vivid display to me of how the LORD brings beauty from ashes. He certainly has done so in my life!

So. Has the LORD created beauty from ashes in your life?
Have you had any transcendent moments with God?
Have you had the opportunity recently to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor?

Please share your thoughts with me.

Blessings - Kimberly


  1. I have gone through a valley for the past several years--experiencing loss in my family in different ways: loss of a cherished relationship; loss of health in several dear ones; loss of a beloved pet. If anyone would have told me three years ago these things would happen I would have been filled with fear at how I could emotionally survive. Ahh, but that does not reckon with God's beautiful, indescribable grace. His grace is truly sufficient and He gives the grace and strength when it is needed and not a moment before. I'm not saying it hasn't been hard, that I haven't grieved, that I haven't shed many tears, that there has been no sorrow. But God has brought me through, His Spirit has comforted me. I know He hears my prayers and His ear is attentive to my cries. And that gives me a peaceful hope.

  2. Beauty from Ashes, that is the story of my life. The things God has done in my life since I became a Christian almost 20 years ago, it makes me shake my head. I sometimes feel like David when he asks the Lord, 1 Chronicles 17:16 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?"

    I look back at my life and God has redeemed it more than I ever thought possible. There are still consequences from sin that was years gone by, but He has given me the grace and mercy to go through it and to gain wisdom from it.

    Sunday Jim's pastor said you can't become who you want to be until you let go of who you used to be. Sunday I let my past go, and I am very excited to see what He has for me! There is a renewed love for His Word even more than before.

    Thank you for doing this!!

  3. When I think about “Beauty from Ashes” first thing that comes to my mind is my 20 months old son, Isaiah. I conceived him in the darkest time of my life. My husband of ten years and best friend of 22 years and I were going through a rough patch that would later lead to our separation. Emotionally and Spiritually I was dead, but I still decided to keep the baby. I cried so many times “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” from Psalm 22. Now when I look back I realize, that if it wasn’t for His grace I would have never made it this far. He was with me at all times giving me strength and hope. I believe that by God’s grace from the ashes of my marriage beauty in the form of Isaiah was born. He is so precious to me!!!

    Peace & love

  4. I've read this post probably 12 times this week, each with a baby on my lap so I could not type my thoughts to share with you. As the time has past, though, so have the changes in my life. My 2 1/2 year-old's heart surgery... a major deadline for my full-time job... the tsunami and earthquakes in Sendai, Japan where my brother lives and ministers with his wife and family... beauty from ashes is merely the precipice! You see, I know that God knows what we can handle, and he won't give us any more than that. He uses it, even the most horrible things including our sin and surrounding tradgedies, to move us closer to him. In my life I've discovered that those moments when I find myself standing alone in the rainstorm, it is only because I stepped out from under his giant golf umbrella of protection. Each time he has showed me how He has remained faithful despite my unfaithfulness in sin. Each time He has welcomed me back into his warm bear-hug under that umbrella again. Then I, silly me, under the guise of Phil 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) run out in my own strength, forgetting the second half of that favorite verse, and falling flat on my face again! As the Bible says - like a man who looks in a mirror and sees himself, then looks away and forgets what he saw... This scripture, Isaiah 61, reminds me just how close we are right now to the very end, especially in the light of recent events like Haiti last year, La Paz Bolivia landslide this year, and now Japan tsunami. It's coming. We are called for such a time as this. Are you ready? Are you prayed up? All other resources around you WILL fade away (look at Japan now) and all that remains is you and Him. Can you hear him speak to you? Are you willing to do what He says - right exactly NOW? It's a challenge we will meet soon.