Written on October 28, 2017.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “Of one thing I am sure: God’s story never ends with ashes.”
Isaiah speaks of beauty coming from ashes.
I know both of these to be true. With all I am.
For I have found an altar resting upon the recessed within me. And discovered that the soot and sand lie in wait there for spark and splendor.
The Hebrew for ashes is ‘epher’. This same lovely language’s word for beauty is ‘pheer. The majestic move of a single letter decamps sorrow to joy, gutted to glorious. A moment’s breadth, a Creator’s breath. A sweet substitution, an extravagant exchange. The width of transfer as long as it takes to move one letter, to take a breath.
The active element of both words is ‘pey’, a poet’s pronouncement for “mouth”. The expression of vision that brings reality into being. A testified telling.
Our story is so much about what we see in the darkened dust, whether stilled or stirred.
Aren’t we after all made of dust? Don’t we come from very ashes of His burnt offering? That which was scorched and singed for us? Now blazed and branded as His?
We are the fiery evidence of the Obsessed, possessed. Feverish and fired for consumption, not dissipation. We are so far beyond expendable. We are the extended, encompassing the energy and expression of God. The very imagination of Inferno.
We are born upon the altar of His offering, and beheld by that which He forfeits to be near us.
I know there is something in ashes seeming like no more hope, yet it is trust that brings the burnt’s beauty. I think that is why the Hebrew people laid in the ashes of their grieving, poured them over their heads and hearts. That their trust would be so vulnerably apparent. So hope’s beauty could resurrect.
My altar has taught me, is teaching me day by day by day, the cadence of contentment. For it is so easy to accuse a little “s” enemy of a capital offense. Of taking torch to my treasures. Yet, I have come to see how very often I have razed a day to the ground before I’ve ever let Light lead me to look inside. Setting fire to His reign, brazenly burning away the very fabric and thread of what He has sown within.
I’ve chosen, am choosing to cease fire. To peek inside His presence and set aflame the day, so it can be fully lived and His goodness be aglow. I’m learning in the stillness that knows, that most often is the ashes of my making He brings the most beauty from. His breath comes and makes what is real tangible through beauty. The beautified.
Each day, we choose to burn away what He’s given or elevate and offer it to Him so we can see it with Him.
To alight it, every moment of it, because we lived it with Him, not in spite of Him. And we see that in the ashes of that offering, the nothing left but Him. And discover the joy of giving to others from what we have (Esther 9:22) which is only and absolutely HIM.
Storied: Journal about a day (or season) that you razed to the ground before you saw Him in it. And then invite the substitution of beauty to be formed and found from the ashes. AWEstruck by the truth that even when we are the torchbearers, He remains the beauty bringer.
Beyond: For the next week, journal about what is sown in to your day. What you discovered instead of deleted.
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