Friday, October 17, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

It was during a period of time when God was actively working on healing my heart that I first heard the song by Shane Barnard, "Beauty for Ashes". "How perfect", I thought - that had become somewhat of a "catch phrase" in my life - a recurrent theme, for sure!

Time after time, when I thought no possible good could come from the ashes that surrounded me, I was amazed and awed at how God restored beauty. The times when I thought my pain and mourning would never end, I found Joy. My burdens were lifted and became reasons to praise!

I picked up the lyric sheet, and sat down with my interpreting mentor. We would sit and translate the English to ASL - American Sign Language. Then I'd go home and practice before the worship service on Sunday morning. I started to read:

"Beauty for Ashes.... a garment of praise for my heaviness...

Hmmm... "What does it mean?" she asked me. "Well, my "heaviness" is my burdens... they become praise." I said, cautiously. "Exactly," she said. I jotted that down, so I'd remember.

The next line stopped me in my tracks:

"Beauty for Ashes.... take this heart of stone, and make it Yours."

Heart of *stone*? Ouch. Conviction there. I had just finished reading the book "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. Although my life had been very different from the main character, Angel - a prostitute - I could identify the same wall of protection she had constructed around her heart, surrounding mine. A "heart of stone". It was at this point I began to fear this song, just a little. I knew it was going to speak to me powerfully, and perhaps be (somewhat) life-changing.

"Trading all that I am for all that is better."

Oh! WOW!! What a great line. Let's see in ASL, I would sign "All-of-me surrender. Grace pour-down-on-me". Little did I know how those gentle sweeping motions would make my heart pause, and tears stream down my face.

I found that out (repeatedly) in the privacy of my own home.... and again at the rehearsal Sunday morning....and again during the worship service itself.

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I realized: this song had changed me. Standing in our anointed place, at the corner of the stage, offering up my prayer - with voice and hands and soul - had changed me. "Take this heart of stone, and make it Yours". The "walls of protection", now cracked and crumbling, left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. Yet, I knew, the mourning would turn to Joy, and the burdens to praise.

Even now, when I hear that song, my heart aches. It pauses and longs for the signs to come forth - "Surrender", and "Grace" and "Connect-my-heart-to-God". My heart knows what it wants - what it needs. "Surrender". "Grace". "Connect-my-heart-to-God"

Beauty for Ashes,... again, and again, and again....

Thank You, God...


"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."—Isaiah 61:3

1 comment:

kristin said...

Hi Linda - I just wanted to say that while I don't always comment.... I love reading your blog in the morning. It's like my daily devotional.