Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions…
Am I going to make it through this?
Will I be OK at the end of it all?
Will it get any better?
Will it ever stop?
At times I have felt like I have been on a roller coaster of “What If’s?” since the beginning of the year. It has been a succession of trials that have happened and I’d love to tell you that I have straightened up my back in confidence, shrugged the worries off my shoulders, and have kept my chin up claiming,
“I’m good. It’s all going to be OK. No worries!”
But, sometimes life just seems too much for the moment; as if you feel like you’re standing behind a baseball’s pitching machine with one ball after another being swiftly driven at you, the target. We get consumed with the defeating thoughts of fear, stress, and anxiety. The questions begin to fill our head and we wonder if it will and, if we will be OK.
Just recently God brought me to these scriptures in Numbers 33:1-7 (whole chapter of journeys from one place to another):
“These are the stages of the journeys of Israel, which they went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies, under the hand of Moses and Aaron. And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
And they departed from Ramses in the first month…
And they removed from Ramses and encamped in Succoth…
And they set out from Succoth and encamped in Ethan…”
As I began to reflect over the entire chapter of verses of departing and encamping – I saw the parallel to our own individual life story. God is writing your story. The book of your life may not enter into the Bible we read now, but it is being written – from one stage to another on your journey.
Last week mine went along the lines of;
And they took their son to get his follow up MRI…
And they took that same son to the doctor the next day and found he had a staff infection in his leg…
And they took their middle child to the doctor and dentist to get stitches put in and her two front teeth sealed from being chipped for having tripped and fallen forward on a diving board…
And they took their oldest to her appointment and were told that if she doesn’t get her pinky moving, she might face another surgery…
And their youngest little girl face planted off of a skated board and scraped up her chin and nose…
But, as I read those verses in light of our year and last week, I saw something else; God told them to go from this temporary place onto the next place He had called them to be.
Don’t sit in your past and carry it with you; leave your ashes.
Have you ever tried to clean up the ashes after burning some wood in your fireplace? You grab a small broom and small pail to scoop up the ashes and throw them in the garbage. But, something interesting happens, the ashes don’t all get put in the garbage. They are light and airy and some take flight in the air and land on the mantle, floor, and furniture pieces around them making them gray and dreary looking. Then, we have to clean and wipe those areas down to finally get rid of the ashes and let the beauty of those pieces shine again.
So it goes with us in the “stages” of our journey in life.
Some of us have gone place to place, trial to trial still carrying around our ashes or the dust of the ashes that have fallen from our previous stages in life. Some of us wear them like graveyard clothes, our heads hanging low, and our spirits in despair over what has happened.
Defeating and relentless thoughts come purposing to focus our attention on the ashes so that we miss the beauty in life at the moment.
I can remember a time when I had just found out that my husband was unfaithful and I carried the ashes of that pain for six years. Six years!!! Six years the ashes I carried tainted many of my days and finally God spoke to me,
“Laurie, I’ve told you to forgive him. Are you ready to enjoy him now, or are you still going to let those ashes steal the beauty that you and him can be together, the beauty that I made you? I redeemed this marriage from the pit so stop living like you’re still in it!”
I had a decision to make. We all do. Maybe it’s not enough to say, “Don’t let your past define you.” Maybe we should be realizing that when we carry the ashes of our past around, it robs us of the beauty we are in Him, the beauty we can be to others, and the blessings and beauty of others He’s given to us.
God said in speaking about Jesus,
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those that are bound…to comfort all that mourn…to give them BEAUTY FOR ASHES…” Isaiah 61:1-3
I continue to learn this life lesson; that unless we give up our ashes, we cannot have the beauty that God has for us in life. We must trade our ashes for the beauty of life that God has for us all.
As it said in the first verse of Numbers 33:1, “These are the stages of the journeys of (insert your name here)…”
I repeatedly reminded our daughter in the hospital as she was writhing in pain, “This is just temporary. Soon you will have that rod out of your leg, surgery will be done and a success, your pelvis and spine will heal, and you will walk again. But, we must go through these things first before we can get to where you want to be.”
These past few months as fear, stress, and anxiety have tried to fill my head and heart, God had sent several close sisters and brothers of mine who would echo the same hope I did with AJ; “Look what God has done, they are doing well, they have healed and continue to heal, and you will all go on living a blessed life. God has redeemed and continues to redeem it all.”
The God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” ~Romans 15:13
The Israelites had been carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon and God spoke these words to them to move on in life, multiply, and don’t be diminished:
“Build yourselves houses and dwell in them;
plant gardens and eat the fruit of them.
Take wives and have sons and daughters;
take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriages that they may bear sons and daughters;
multiply there, and DO NOT BE DIMINISHED.” ~Jeremiah 29:5-6
The hope of seeing change in our future helps us rise above the ashes.
Our marriage was rocked with infidelity, but I make a daily choice to enjoy my husband; building a life together and not diminishing it by the ashes that we once went through in a stage of life.
Our children have undergone some pretty challenging trials that changed how they and we do life; but they rose from their ashes and remain alive and enjoying life.
Let’s refuse to live in the ashes or carry them around from place to place diminishing the beauty and the blessings that are in our life right now.
Sure there are more stages to come in our life’s journey, in our book, but God is faithful to bring us through what He brings us to, AND, in the truthful words of Billy Graham,
“I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out alright.”
Rise from the ashes and march on, Overcomer! Your book is still being written and there is a future with much hope and many more blessed memories that await you!