As I sit on my Southern California balcony this morning reading the Word and drinking my tea, the ash from yet another fire is raining down on me. It floats in ever so quietly, almost unnoticeable except for the small flakes that are dusting my journal and Bible. Such a peaceful falling of ash with such destruction at its root. A sweeping through of heat and flames obliterating homes, lives, vegetation and wildlife…all caused by the spark of a flame. Most of the time this flame begins as something harmless, other times with destructive intent.
I’ve experienced times in my life when fire has swept through, destruction has been set on course and collateral damage is far reaching. I’ve stood on the figurative front lines, loved ones by my side, batting intense infernos set in motion by the devil himself. We’ve labored until utter exhaustion, perceived defeat and hopelessness threaten to consume us all; becoming weary from carrying the weight of the firehose, so blinded by soot in our eyes that any sight of Jesus was impossible.
Today, though, as I sit amongst the peaceful falling of ash, the silence in the wake of what seems like endless California fires, I remember that He has given me a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, and festive praise instead of despair. Maybe you too have been given a crown such as this…
I have seen the fire of this world ravage all that I thought was valuable and dear to me-relationships, finances, possessions- only to receive my crown of beauty afterward. A priceless crown that represented idols past that kept me from pursuing Jesus wholeheartedly. A crown that removed unhealthy relationships placing Jesus at the center of new ones. One that represented firmly planted trust within me that has learned, God gives and takes away…and gives again as He sees fit.
You see, the Lord didn’t cause the destruction, but He allowed. He needed me to experience this calamity in order to demolish things keeping me from Him so He could replant, restore and redeem for my good and His glory.
Whether your “fire” started because of human error, negligence in your pursuit of Jesus, or outright willful sin, please know that God DOES work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He really does. He may have allowed a firestorm to touch your life, but He PROMISES to give you a crown of beauty for ashes, He WILL bring festive praise instead of despair and in your righteousness (provided by Him), you will be like a great oak planted for His glory.
Wherever you are today, I encourage you to claim His peace and promises. Do you feel a fire lurking? Stay close to your Savior; He will prepare you. Are you in the fire and losing the strength to battle it? Call on your first responders; the ones near to you. God has carefully placed these people there to help you. Has the fire passed? Enjoy your crown of beauty as you praise the One who brought you through!
Trusting In Him,