Monday, February 25, 2013

Out of the Ashes

               This past weekend, I went on the Women’s Retreat with our church. We got to join with some other Calvary Chapels, and I got to reconnect with women who I had not seen in such a long time. It was wonderful. The worship, the fellowship, the teaching, it was all so refreshing and something I needed greatly. But there was one area of my life that the Lord really wanted to speak to me about this weekend. The theme of the retreat was “Beautiful Exchange” and the scriptures were Isaiah 61:1-6. We talked about how the Lord God takes our brokenness, our hurts, pain, sorrow, etc, and exchanges His beauty for our ashes.  I was sitting in more ash heaps than I had realized.
                But one area of my life the Lord really pressed hard upon me and I knew that I had some homework for when I returned home. He ministered to me, spoke to me, sang over me and gave me some hope that I did not have before. I knew He wanted to take this broken part of my life and exchange it for the beauty He has created for me. I have to tell you, I have come home a changed woman, and I am so thankful and full of praise for the wonderful work He began in my heart Saturday.
                This morning, as I began applying the tools He had given me towards this broken area of my life, I began to think about Ezekiel, and his vision of the dry bones. So, I opened my Bible and the Lord began to give me a promise, a promise I feel I need to share with you today. We all have broken and dead areas of our lives. Some of us have broken relationships, or relationships we have let die. But today, the Lord God promises that if we give these to Him, these ash-filled heaps of our lives to Him, He will exchange them for something beautiful, and we will get to see the dead come to life, right before our eyes.
                “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.” Ezekiel 37:1
                The Lord took my hand this past weekend and showed me the dead bones of an area of my life. He took me down, meaning that He brought me to a place where I could no longer turn away from it, I could no longer resist it, for in the valley, surrounded by the mountains; He made sure it was the only thing I could see. I was all alone with Him, and He humbled me so that I could see clearly the work He wanted to do in my life.
                “Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.” (vs. 2) He caused words that I had said, deeds that I had done, and the sins that I had allowed to creep into this area of my life come up all around me. He showed me how I had played a role in causing death to come to this area of my life.
                “And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” (vs. 3) The Lord spoke to me as well and said, “Do you believe I can bring this to life again?” So I answered the Lord this weekend and said, “Yes Lord, I know that You can.” I knew He could, but I had to also ask myself if I wanted Him to. Did I really want Him to take this broken, dead part of my life and bring it back again? After much prayer and seeking, the Lord showed me the desire was to have life breathed into this area once again.
                The Lord God wants to take the broken, dead, dry ashes of our lives and make them live again. We see the dead, the dying but He sees the life, the beauty of what is to come. That which was once dead in our lives and without hope of life again, the Lord God gives us a promise to breathe upon it and make it new. We don’t know how He will do it, but we can sit back and watch the Lord work a miracle in our lives.
                “Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’” (vs. 4-6)
                The Lord God promises to take the dead, lifeless and ash filled areas of our lives and breathe into them His very breath. One of the things that stood out to me the most was that the Lord God can take all that is broken, destroyed, lost and burnt up and He can make them beautiful again. The Lord God is a God who loves and desires to restore every area of your life back to Him. He sees the beauty in your life; He can redeem the lost and bring to life again the dead. It all starts with a step of faith.
                The oak tree begins as a tiny acorn. It starts as a simple seed planted into the ground. Over the process of time, the acorn begins to sprout and new life is sprung up from within it. It grows and grows until it is firmly planted and it becomes one of the strongest trees in the forest. Just like the broken and ash filled areas of our lives can once again be made new, and beauty and strength can sprout forth.
                The Lord God caused the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 to come together, little by little; they began to have life again. His Holy Spirit brought to life what looked as if it was dead and the ashes were going to get scattered in the winds. But the Lord God promises to take the broken and dead areas of our lives, our relationships, our dreams, our desires and He promises to breathe into them His glorious breath once again.
                No matter where you are at in your life, the Lord God wants to take all that is broken, dead, and filled with ash into His hands and breathe upon it the glory of His life. He wants to exchange our brokenness for His beauty. All we have to do is trust in His promises and sit back and watch a miracle happen. I pray today that you would go to the Lord in seeking prayer and ask Him to show you the areas of your life that are dead and filled with ashes, I pray that you would exchange them for the Love and the Life that He offers to you today. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.