BEAUTY FROM ASHES
Jessica Albritton, Family Connections Minister, LHBC
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to 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.
A few months back I got some pretty shocking news. A former student at a previous church had really fallen off the rails. When Covid reared its ugly head and the church shut down for a few months she began to go stir crazy in the house. She began a friendship with a girl down her street and let’s just say this friend is not the kind of influence you want in your kids life. She began to hang with the wrong crowd, experiment with drugs, party to forget the mess going on in the world, and the next thing you know it became easier to sleep in than to spend time in God’s word, and the accountability she had previously surrounded herself with wasn’t there anymore to see her behavior. As time went on she went deeper into her spiral and one day she woke up and realized she was pregnant, far from the Lord, too ashamed to reach out to her church family, and angry at her situation. She didn’t want to be pregnant, she didn’t want to feel the pains of drug withdrawals, she didn’t want to feel alone and isolated.
I’ll be honest, when I first heard the news my heart broke. I remember sitting on my couch and weeping at the circumstances as my mind raced with questions like, “How did this happen?” and “Why hadn’t she called me?” This was one of my girls, she was one of the most solid, biblically grounded ones in the ministry. This was not supposed to happen. I didn’t know what to do but I knew I had to do something. So I prayed. I prayed for guidance on how to gracefully handle the situation, I prayed that this young girl would feel the overwhelming love of the Father, and I prayed that God would somehow use this situation to make much of Himself in the process. After about a month I had a long weekend free so I got in my car and took a road trip out to her house. I knocked on her door and surprised her with a baby present. As soon as she opened the door she started crying and fell into my arms. I gently laid my hand on her small bump and choked through the words, “Why didn’t you call me?” Her response, “Jessica, I couldn’t… I was too ashamed.” I was wiping away tears myself when I handed her the present and we walked in and settled on the couch.
She is in a much better place now, she’s back in church, completely clean from drugs, and starting to prepare for the next stage in her life. As we continued to talk she shared with me that she views this unplanned pregnancy as one of the biggest blessings and gifts from the Lord. You see, if she had of never gotten pregnant she would still be out on the streets, and according to her, she would probably be dead somewhere in a ditch based on the road she was headed down. She no longer is angry at God. She has come to terms with the fact that her actions got her to where she is now, but she also recognizes that only a Holy, loving, Sovereign God can take a tragic situation and make something beautiful of it.
Isn’t that just like God? Making beauty from ashes? God is the only one I know that can take an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, and use it to draw wayward daughters unto Himself. He can take the ashes of grief and exchange it for a beautiful headdress. The truth of the Gospel is bigger than any sin and shame of this world. Yes, sin has consequences, but the shame and guilt has no power over the God of hope! Jesus takes our brokenness, and if we allow Him, exchanges it for hope and freedom in Him!
Are you like that former student of mine? Have you found yourself in a tragic situation? Friend, I have great news, that circumstance you are in right now did not catch the God of the universe off guard. And though our earthly choices have very real consequences we serve a God that makes beauty from ashes! He can take that tragedy in your life and use it for His glory! Don’t let the weight of the sin blind you from the grace of the father!
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Heavenly Father, You are so good to us! Thank You for the fact that You do not leave us in our sin but instead You make a way for us to walk in freedom and forgiveness! Lord, I trust the fact that You are working all things together and You exchange ashes for beauty! Thank You for Your goodness and grace! In Jesus name, amen!
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Proverbs 27:17- Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.