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:

kwr221 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.

Thanks!