isaiah 61:3 // to grant those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
ok ok ok, i know what you are thinking…”Tony, you are totally perfect in every way!” i know it’s so hard to believe and quite a shocker for many, but i am not perfect. and although i think highly of many people (including you reading right now), you aren’t perfect either. we (I) are some jacked up people. i love this one quote i read recently:
“this is a message no one wants to hear, for the upshot of it is that you can be the most upright citizen of your town, and still, before the revealing light of heaven, you are a miserable wretch at the mercy of a holy God. You can have a crime-free record, perfect standing with the IRS, the works of Mother Teresa, the passion of Paul, and the conviction of Gandhi, and you still stand accused and convicted before the perfect standards of any infinitely righteous Judge.” -david jeremiah
no one can escape the mire of sin. point. blank. period. including myself. this past year of 2010 has been one hell of a year. i never expected God to totally wreck all of my life and every facet like He has and continues to do this year. i have been stripped of every single thing in my life. every part of my life has been shaken to the bare basics. the sinful nature that i have possessed and even the deep-rooted sin that has been cultivated in my life has been exposed to many people i care about, whether i liked it or not. throughout the humiliating process, i have learned that God had to break me down to my most vulnerable and bare state to build me back up. Satan still brings painful thoughts to my memory of embarrassment, but i have to look at those memories, and Satan himself, and say LOOK AT ME NOW! BAM! beauty from ashes.
this has made me look at people totally different! as natalie grant says in her most recent hit, “i’m human. you’re human. we are, we are human.” (catchy, eh?) i have to check myself and say “they may not have taken that humbling journey yet.” i am no one to judge what you say, do, etc. i know you are human as well. we aren’t perfect.
as i mentioned in my much earlier post, “living sacrifice”, we are called to be just that! living sacrifices. when our flesh crawls off that cross, sometimes we need that humbling moment of God using others to nail us back up on that cross – IN LOVE! Love is essential in all of this. Love is the greatest convincing force one can use.
so time to come full circle with all of this. by no means is God finished with the work He is doing in me. but how GREAT God is for creating beauty from ashes. I love that God is taking this jacked up (to say the least) guy to a Righteous Man of God. I love the transformation of Saul to Paul. Jacob’s (the deceiver) wrestling with God brought the man we know, Israel (man of God). He can do that for you too! No joke. I am living proof of God’s great transforming power. It’s a process, don’t get me wrong. That process may be painful at times, but just wait for the outcome! God can start that process of renewal in YOU! BELIEVE DAT!
and finally, i love the last part of that scripture: “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” we must refocus to the reason of the renewal. HIS glory. He wants to do a Saul to Paul kinda work in us so that He receives the glory in all of it. we are then to be extensions in the kingdom to expose the wondrous, restoring work of the Father.
i don’t know about you, but i’m LOVIN that!! are you ready for your beauty from ashes?
-tony // @AsToldByTony