“… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes …” (Isaiah 61:3)
As a fire dwindles down, all that is left are ashes. Thick, black ashes. Have you ever noticed how ashes have a way of getting kicked up by the wind and spreading all over the place? Wherever they land, they leave little marks. They stain everything they come into contact with.
I’ve had ashes in my life. Some of them were caused by the actions of another. What this person did to me isn’t a big deal at all by today’s standards. In fact, it’s fairly inconsequential. Nevertheless, it left me feeling black and dirty.
I carried my shame deep down inside, hidden in a place where no one could ever see it. I never talked to anyone about it, except my husband and my younger sister. But despite my attempts to push it aside, it affected my relationships. It especially affected my relationship with my husband and my relationship with God.
Every time I would try to move forward in my walk with God, my shame would rise up in front of me like a thick, impenetrable wall. I would hang my head and settle back into the mediocre life I’d been living. I’m too dirty, I thought. God can never use me. I desperately wanted to be free. But sometimes freedom is a process.
Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there right now. It doesn’t matter if you experienced years of abuse or if you experienced one small incident. Shame is shame. Left unchecked, it will keep you from your destiny. But it doesn’t need to control you.
I want you to know that there is hope.
My sister told me last week about a revelation she had. She said, “Everyone talks about how Jesus carried our sins and our sicknesses. But no one ever talks about how He carried the weight of our shame.”
It’s true, you know.
Isaiah 53:4-5 says,
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
Jesus experienced every single kind of shame that you could imagine as He hung there on that cross. He was spit upon. Mocked. His body was exposed for the world to see. He was abused in every way. In every way. The blackness on Him was so great that the Father turned His face away.
Jesus did this so that the Father would never turn His face away from anyone ever again. So know that the Father’s eyes are on you. They aren’t filled with disgust or revulsion. They are filled with love. You might only see your ashes, but God sees beyond that to the beautiful person He created you to be. His arms are open and He desperately wants you to come to Him to find healing.
So don’t hesitate. Run into His open arms and give it over to Him. He will take the dirty black ashes that have marred your soul and He’ll transform them into a crown of incredible beauty.