Beauty from Ashes

We all have mistakes we’ve made that we regret ever doing. You know, like that one time in middle school I cut off my precious long locks and insisted on a very short above the shoulders bob-like cut. Talk about a regret. I cried for days on end on why I ever thought that cutting off that many inches was a good idea. It was quite scarring to be honest. Those mistakes that leave us thinking to ourselves “why on earth did I do that?” Like that time I went on a very strict month long diet a few months before my junior prom. By the time the dress fitting rolled around a few weeks before the dance, I had given up on the diet like any other person who loves carbs and chocolate would have done. To my disgust, the dress wouldn’t zip up. Talk about embarrassing. I had a full on come apart right there in front of the whole store and didn’t even care who saw the dramatic hissy fit I pitched. Those are those things we do that in the moment seem like the end of the world, but looking back, they are actually quite funny.

But unfortunately, not all mistakes are ones we can look back and laugh about. The mistakes that change the course of our lives, alter our world as we know it, and destroy things within us. I’m talking about the give yourself to someone outside of the covenant of marriage, the first sip of alcohol that leads to the unfortunate drunken events, the impulsive and irrational decisions that causes harm to us personally or those around us regrets. The say things that destroy a relationship with someone you love, the first smoke of an addictive drug that leaves you wanting more, listening to the lie of the enemy regrets. You could say that my list of mistakes has a few of these things on it, as well as a few others, that haunted me for a long long time.

When we make such huge and life changing mistakes in our lives, it is easy for the enemy to creep into our minds and fill it with a bunch of things that are far from the truth. He wants us to believe that because of our sin, we cannot be used by God and that we are unworthy of His abounding love and endless mercy. I believed these lies of the enemy for a long long time. I felt so ashamed of the things that I had done and that I had messed up far beyond reconciliation. I felt as though God didn’t love me anymore and my life was a worthless mess. But those are all lies that I let the enemy slip one by one into my head. In fact, those mindsets are the farthest thing from the truth.

The Bible gives us the truth about our mistakes in Romans.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”   Romans 8:28

Notice how it says ALL THINGS. Not just good things or the things we get right, but ALL THINGS. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. He uses our mistakes and turns then around for His glory and the advancement of His kingdom. How amazing is that?

I reminded of one of my favorite worship songs called Beautiful Things. The lyrics go “You make beautiful things out of dust.” Other songs say the words “beauty from ashes” which comes from the Bible verse Isaiah 61:3. When I think of ashes, I think of something that has been destroyed far beyond recovery. All that is left is rubble and nothing can be salvaged. But we know that nothing is impossible with God. We are told in Ecclesiastes that God makes all things beautiful and right according to His will.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11.

God turns those ashes into something beautiful in His timing and with what is in line with His perfect will. We may never fully understand why God does all of the things He does, but we sure can have faith that He has full power to make ALL THINGS beautiful if we let Him. That includes all of our junk and the times we felt too far away from God that there seems to be no point of return. If we are willing to give Him everything: the good things, the bad things, the times we screwed up and our past mistakes, He will use them to help us reach others. He always cares and always loves no matter how far we feel we are from Him. We are never too far gone to not ask for forgiveness and to not be used by God. Heck, He used a donkey to speak to Balaam in the book of Numbers (Numbers 22), so He can use us in all of our mess.

God fixes broken things and makes ugly things beautiful.

…and that includes the horrendous haircut I got in junior high. Yes, even that.

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