Tag Archives: Ashes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My pastor recently introduced me to the S.O.A.P. Bible study method and, as I’m enjoying it quite a bit, I thought I’d share some of what the Lord’s been teaching me. Hope you enjoy!

out_of_ashes_by_colleenchiquita

Scripture

Philemon 6

‘…and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective though the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.’

Observe

There are good things in me which have been placed there for me to use in the service of the King. In order to use them, I need to know about them, what they are and how they work. These are gifts that the Lord has placed in me that I can then turn back into praise by using them for Him. The more I know about them, the more effective they are. They come into effect when I am fellowshipping with other believers or when I am witnessing through my testimony.

Application

I know my heart; the only thing that’s good in me is Jesus. Whatever gifts, talents, skills, etc. I have the privilege of utilizing for His kingdom are actually His works being done through me. And since the only good thing in me is Jesus, and since I need knowledge of every good thing which is in me, then to effectively serve Him, I need to know Him. The deeper I go in my understanding of Christ, the more I can recognize His works in me and get out of the way so He can shine. But how do I gain greater knowledge of Him?

Here’s my thought: they say that going through trials – the really rough stuff – shows you what you’re made of. Adversity gets to the heart of who I am as a person and shows me the good, the bad, and the ugly. So when I’m in the storm, I get to see how much of me is made of Jesus, basically, how much of my heart I’ve given over to Him. The good. I also get to see the bad, how much of my heart I’m keeping for myself. Then there’s the ugly, which is tricky because life is messy, but beautifully so. And the more ashes I have, the more God can turn into beauty. So that ugly can be either category; I can hand it over to the Lord or try to beautify it myself.

Trials – the ugly – are the perfect opportunities to learn more about my Savior and how to be more like Him, because they bring everything home to my core and I get to see what makes my own heart tick. The more I learn, the more I know God, the more effectively He can use me for His Kingdom.

Prayer

Father, thank you so much for faithfully afflicting me. Thank you for loving me as I am, messy as I am. Please don’t let me stay here. Please search me and know my heart, show me my sins and help me to overcome them. Please show me the areas where You are at work in me and fill me with even more grace to let you have more control. And thank you for all the ugly and for the plans You have to give beauty for ashes. In your precious name I pray, Amen.


The Best of Times

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I just finished reading The Hiding Place and, sure enough, I’ve got stuff I want to share. I was reading a section of the book in which Corrie ten Boom is walking past her sister’s prison cell, and upon peeking inside, discovers that it actually looks homey.

But I had seen the home Betsie had made in Scheveningen (the prison). For unbelievably, against all logic, this cell was charming. My eyes seized only a few details as I inched reluctantly past. The straw pallets were rolled instead of piled in a heap, standing like little pillars along the walls, each with a lady’s hat atop it. A headscarf had somehow been hung along the wall. The contents of several food packages were arranged on a small shelf; I could just hear Betsie saying, “The red biscuit tin here in the center!” Even the coats hanging on their hooks were part of the welcome of that room, each sleeve draped over the shoulder of the coat next to it like a row of dancing children-

-The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Reading this before bedtime sparked an interesting dream that I’ve actually learned a few things from. In my dream, I and a large number of other people were trapped in an underground basement/cavern. We had all arrived separately on an elevator that would not take us back up. We spent a lot of time focused on that elevator and on how to get it to take us back to freedom. It only worked for three or four people so the rest of us started giving up on the elevator. As we put our focus on making the best of our situation, the sun began to intrude a little. Then, a newcomer fresh from the elevator pointed out a spot for improvement. There was a large, awkwardly shaped and rather useless structure on one side of the room that, as he pointed out, should be taken down to let in more sunlight. It was really easy to take it down and when we did the light came streaming in. Everything in the room was now more beautiful and what had been a creepy cave before, was now more of a sunlit meadow. What’s more, with the structure gone, a very short fence behind it was exposed and we were all able to step over it and into freedom.

So, first of all, thanks for bearing with me and reading through that. I don’t usually share my dreams here because I have a very overactive imagination and my dreams are all weird. But this one stuck with me so I wanted to share it.

It taught me a few things…

1) When we are trapped in a situation we don’t like, we often fixate on what we are sure is the only way out instead of being open to God’s working in any way He sees fit.

2) When we focus solely on relief from that situation, our surroundings seem dark and hopeless.

3) When we surrender our plans for redemption to God, and submit to His leading in good times and bad, our perspective changes. Once we decide to make the best of things and praise God in the storm, things get brighter.

4) Sometimes, we have strongholds in our lives that need to be torn down before we can move forward. Often, we will avoid dealing with these strongholds because we are afraid of the work it will take to eradicate them. But every once in a while, and with God’s help, taking them down is easier than we thought. And then the sunlight streams in.

5) God’s deliverance is often from a different direction than we expected. So we shouldn’t give up hope when our rescue plan of choice doesn’t pan out.

So that’s what I’m learning about being in a tough spot. I need to focus on the Son and His light and let Him give me beauty for ashes. Instead of focusing on a way out, I’m going to focus on praising God in the storm.


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