Isaiah 61:3b, "...he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory."
Today, I want to share with you a devotional that God has given me to write about brokenness. If you were to ask me if there was one sermon that spoke to me more than any others, I would tell you about the sermon I heard years ago about the broken candle. I don't remember the sermon well, but I do remember the way the candles were used to make a point about our lives. I'm going to share today my own version of this sermon and how God has used it to speak to my heart recently.
Have you ever found yourself broken?
I had a dream for my life. One of my biggest dreams is to get married someday and raise a family. I had this picture in my head of the life I wanted to live and the stories I wanted to share. My first kiss was something I wanted to give to my husband. Until this year, I hadn't even held hands with a guy. I'd never been kissed. I had a life planned out that looked like a perfect, clear candle holder. In this area of life, I hadn't been broken. There was this purity that I held in high esteem, and I had a plan that didn't include brokenness.
At the beginning of this year, I met someone, and we decided to date each other. We fell head-over-heels for one another, and eventually we planned to get engaged. I thought for sure this man was going to be the man I'd walk down the aisle to, and I gave away my first kiss to him. Not only this, but (although I'm still saving myself for my husband) I gave away more than I was comfortable with giving away before marriage.
Eventually, my life took an unexpected twist, and things didn't turn out the way I thought they would have. Things fell through, and I never got engaged. I found myself incredibly broken. At first, I thought it was just from losing the person I thought I'd be with forever. After many months went by, though, God revealed something to me that made me realize a little better why I felt the pain I felt.
I wasn't just broken from things not working out. I was broken because now my "unbroken candle life" was shattered into pieces. Due to some of my decisions, I had regrets that I wish I never had.
Dreams were shattered, and I was left with a mess.
The brokenness I had in my heart seemed like the end of the world. As shattered pieces look like something that is broken and wouldn't be beautiful again, I felt like my life was the same way. It was shattered. It was crushed, and what was once so beautiful was now a pile of broken pieces.
In my moments of being shattered, God impressed upon my heart to be still and know that He is God.
Instead of obeying that call, I went into a mode of busying myself in hopes of forgetting the broken state I was in. I was afraid to see that my life was broken, and I was really afraid to actually have time to think about that.
For the last five to six months, I've been beyond busy. I had no time for anything because there was always something on my agenda. I went to work, babysat, house-sat, worked in the nursery, and helped in ministry at a youth group. Then, there was normal life on top of all of this. Finally, I hit my breaking-point, and I decided I wasn't living. I was simply watching my life pass me by.
This week is the first time I've actually sat down and been still as God instructed me to do in the middle of the year.
I found that I was still broken, but I couldn't run from dealing with it anymore.
God has reminded me a few times of the candle sermon, but last night was when He broke through to my heart, and that is why I'm writing this devotional now.
When I finally faced my brokenness and took my broken pieces before God, He got me out of my broken state. When I finally got real with Him and gave Him all of my shattered pieces, He didn't tell me it was end of the world. He didn't tell me I was broken beyond repair. Instead, He gently whispered to me how He could make something even more beautiful than the candle that was never broken. No, I couldn't have the "unbroken candle life" back... BUT, because of God, I could have something even better!
If I would lay all of my broken pieces before God, He reminded me how He would make something even more beautiful than the perfect, unbroken, and un-shattered life I dreamed of before.
As I took my broken pieces and laid them down at the feet of Jesus, I picked up freedom. I was no longer a broken mess. I was now in the process of being restored into something beautiful.
Isaiah 61:3b says, "...he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory."
Perhaps you too have found yourself broken at one point or another. Maybe you found yourself broken because of situations that were out of your hands, or perhaps you found yourself broken because of some of the decisions you yourself made. Either way, God doesn't want you (or me) to stay in a state of brokenness. He wants us to be healed and restored so that we are no longer a shattered mess but rather beautifully broken. He is our Restorer and our Redeemer. He doesn't throw us away. Rather, He mends us and makes us into something even more beautiful than we were before we were broken.
Our job is to give Him the ashes (our broken pieces) in exchange for beauty.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You certainly have used the candle story to impact my life. You've used it to show me how brokenness doesn't have to be the end of the world. Lord, I pray that You'll use my brokenness for Your glory. Take all my broken pieces and put them back together to make something beautiful. Please give me beauty for ashes. In Jesus' Name.