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Beauty for Ashes Devotion

Beauty is sought after. Beauty attracts. Beauty gives pleasure. Beauty is a treat to the eye and the soul. I can go on talking about beauty. Everyone desires beauty. The poet John Keats said in very wise words, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever..”. We long to look good, feel good and possess things that are good. But is this a desire that is satisfied?

Ashes are the remains of something that is burnt. Ashes are leftovers nobody bothers about. Ashes are an eyesore. Ashes are painful reminders. Ashes are ruins. We hardly like to have ashes lying about. Ashes are always disposed.

How does life turn out? At times beautiful and at others painful and ruined like ashes. When things go wrong, when disappointment sets in, when failures overwhelm, when nothing seems to give peace and when beauty is stripped off our lives, we join those who mourn and sit in ashes. We want to sweep off the ashes from our lives. But how do we do it?

The town I live in has poor drainage facilities and any vacant plot is converted into a dump. These are nasty spots, infested with mosquitoes, creepy crawlies, stray animals and of course a very foul odor. I had the ill fortune of waiting right in front of one such dump to pick up my daughter every day. Till the school bus arrived I often struggled to find a clean spot to stand. Rainy seasons made my predicament worse as water collecting in the dump accentuated the foul odor and made it impossible to find a filth-less place. I never liked the wait but this was one routine I could do nothing about.

After one particular spell of rain, when the water levels had subsided, I found myself walking to the dump to wait for my daughter’s bus. When I reached, I was in for a huge surprise. The dump was green all over and dotted with purple flowers. Nothing changed about the way the dump was used. People still disposed their waste here. But wild plants sprung up and covered the ugly dump with pretty flowers. The dump was no longer neglected. It attracted the extended glance of all who passed by. Seeing this dump’s magical transformation reminded me, “….beauty for ashes…” (Isa 61:3)

It was the hand of the Creator that transformed the dump. No one living around was interested in clearing up this place or planting anything nice. The dump was never given a second thought. It was a place to accumulate waste. In spite of this, the creator could beautify this smelly dump by making a plant spring up and thrive in the filth and squalor.

If God, the creator could work out this miracle in a forgotten dump, is it not possible for Him to beautify your life? Do you find beauty or ashes in your life? Have you gone weary with the ashes? Are you tired of your weaknesses, shortcomings and failures? Are you spending your time and resources on beautifying your life? Are you weary of yourself?

Whatever be the ashes in your life, God can sweep it out and adorn you with beauty. Are you willing to let Him or will you still run after a beauty that is short lived? Will you surrender your life of ashes in His hand or try to find solutions on your own?

If only you let Him take over the ashes, He will give you beauty instead.

"…for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…..” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Here's a daily devotion book by Amy Carmichael with inspired writings to bless your walk with God.

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