Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me...to grant consolation & joy to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, & failing spirit - that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61.1 & 3

How can one measure this past year? How do you put to words all that has transpired since that Sunday when Jesus welcomed Isaac home? I awoke this morning to a flood of memories, remembering each moment of that last day with our son. I'm so grateful we were home with him. I'm so grateful that Jordan & I were together with Isaac that entire day. I'm so grateful that those final moments were peaceful for our boy & the room filled with the sound of instrumental hymns & the prayers of family & friends. Yes, I wish there could have been some other way...that God would have miraculously healed Isaac's heart & body, that the doctors would have been baffled to find four chambers pumping away instead of three. But just as He promises to know all our days before even one of them begin (Psalms 139), I know God's plan for Isaac was perfect & that our son lived out the life planned for him to the fullest.

Nevertheless, this past year has been the hardest of my life. You hear of tragedies in the world, of the loss others incur. They grieve you & pull at your heart. But when your own sweet child, whose life you've completely trusted to God with genuine hope that the saving miracle will come...when his journey ends...when his gain comes at your loss...when his healing comes on the other side of eternity...it hits you with a force you can't describe & rocks you to the core. True, I'm forever grateful that Isaac no longer has to suffer, to undergo surgeries, to be bound by the machines that keep him alive. I'm overwhelmed to know this very moment, he is perfect in heaven with Jesus. But it doesn't change the physical loss of him here on earth. All those dreams, all those hopes, reduced to ashes on the ground. Completely spent. Burnt up with no life of their own remaining. Ashes.

If I could express one thing today on the anniversary of Isaac's death...one truth that I've learned through this year...it would be this: God is faithful to give beauty for ashes! He is true to His Word. God has taken the ashes that remained from our journey & all that died on August 5, 2007, & He has brought forth true beauty from them. He is not ignorant nor indifferent to what we go through. HE CARES about what has died in your life. HE CARES about those things that are now only ashes on the floor. This year has taught me first hand that treasures are to be found in suffering. Though the journey can be almost unbearable & the pain more real than you ever imagined, when you elevate God above those circumstances & choose to trust His Word, precious gifts are to be found. And on the days when you don't feel you can hold on any more, God's grip on you is even tighter. He will never walk away from you nor let you go! (Isaiah 54.10 & 30.18) God is mighty to save, He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in you. Our Lord gives beauty for ashes. He takes the remains of what has died in your life, those fragile pieces of dust from the dreams you once had...even when it is with the smallest of faith, when you lift Him up above the physical despair that surrounds, He brings forth the most beautiful treasures to be found. Peace. Joy. Hope for tomorrow. And the experienced assurance that He IS true to His Word & He IS faithful to never let you go. Were I to write all the treasures that have come forth from our ashes, you would not have time to read them.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me...to give a garland of beauty for ashes...that He may be glorified!" (Isaiah 61.1&3)