November 16, 2012
Ashes to Beauty
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
For I know that my Redeemer lives. (Job 19:25)

Friend to Friend
God’s redemptive grace can restore any life.

In the beginning, at the very moment that rebellion collided with perfection and invaded the hearts of humanity, God set in motion a plan of redemption. His plan was Jesus – His only Son – who came to redeem us… to save us… to wash us clean from sin. He is an awesome Redeemer… One who gives beauty for ashes, comfort for mourning, and freedom to the shackled. A Savior who imputes His righteousness on the wretched, shines light in the darkest places, and breathes hope to the weariest of souls.

Scripture introduces us to a guy who experienced God’s redemption in beautifully deep ways. His name was Job. Job was a good man. I mean a really good man. No joke – the Bible says so! This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. (Job 1:1b) He lived life the right way. He honored God, loved his family and was both faithful and patient. Good man.

You’d think that because Job was such a stand out guy that he’d pretty much have a cake life, right? SO not right. Let me just say this: good-guy-Job went through some stuff. Boy did he go through some stuff. We are talking major big-league stuff. He had it all and then lost it all: his children, his wealth and his health. Gone. In a blink.

Don’t just skim over that last paragraph.
This man lost his children for goodness sake!
They died.
All ten of them… at the same time.

I can’t even fathom the thought of losing one of my children, let alone all of my children. Shiver. Job knew broken on levels that most of us will never come close to knowing. He knew ashes. He knew mourning. He knew darkness. He knew weary.

On the front end of the pain He had faith. Big faith. He gave God the benefit of the doubt. He held on to his integrity, accepted his circumstances and blessed the name of the LORD in spite of the horror he endured. And he worshiped! Can you believe he worshiped?

Then he fell to the ground in worshipand said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
            and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
            may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.(Job 1:20b-22)

Job went through loss after loss, test after test and friend-with-bad-advice after friend-with-bad-advice who spoke condemnation instead of comfort. All that and his wife was a total drip. Seriously. She wanted him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9b) Nice. Isn’t it amazing how some people can say dumb things and completely misrepresent the heart of God in times of struggle? Oh, friend… let us be women who are quick to comfort and slow to speak advice.
Stepping down from my soap box…

Job was in anguish. (Job 6:2, 7:11) Understandable! He wanted to die because the pain was so unrelenting. (Job 6:9-10) He called out to God and asked Him to reveal where he had gone wrong. Then he repented of the sins that he knew he had committed.

He lamented. Stomped his feet a bit. Got a smidge sassy and frustrated with God. And he wondered if God even cared. Then God answered his complaints, corrected his heart and set the wheels in motion for one of the most amazing shows of redemption the world has ever seen.

God shined light into his darkness – spoke gladness to his mourning – and brought beauty to his ashes. He redeemed Job’s life from the dark pit of broken. Then overwhelmed, Job humbly and whole-heartedly worshiped the Lord. But now, he worshiped God as his Redeemer. He was the first in Scripture to ever call God his Redeemer. For I know that my Redeemer lives. (Job 19:25)

God also names Himself our Redeemer in Scripture!

Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,your Redeemer,
the Mighty One of Jacob. (Isaiah 60:16)

You see? God is all about redemption.

His love for humanity runs deeper than the deepest recesses of our depravity. His love runs farther than your past – higher than your disappointments – wider than your heart wounds and deeper than a cavernous pit of depression. God’s plan of redemption is for every person – no matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what you’ve done.

           But, alas, there’s a catch.
           There’s always a catch, right?
           The catch is: it has to be personal.

His grace is for every one of us, but each of us must accept or reject God’s redemption plan by accepting or rejecting his Son, Jesus Christ. Redemption begins and ends with Jesus. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NLT)

            Redemption is for me.
            Redemption is for you.
            Do you believe that? Have you made it personal with God?

Whether you are at work, at home, at the hospital or in a jail cell. He’s whispering, “Be still.” Whether you are struggling with life strains or are in a season of reprieve. “Be still.” Whether you have a house full of crazy-noise or an apartment filled with ordered-quiet. “Be still.” Whether the diagnosis is cancer or the sting of betrayal is fresh – whether the hope you cling to resounds or you are weary and unsettled. “Be still.” Know that He is God. Know that He is good. Accept that He is able and willing to exchange beauty for your ashes. Call out to Him as your Redeemer.

            Confess your mess before Him.
            Consider His love.
            Then… in the stillness … respond from your heart.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, My Redeemer, I’m here. I’m still. Please reveal anything in my heart that needs restoring. (Pause to listen and reflect.) I confess these sins to You: ________________ and I ask that You remove them as far as the east is from the west. Thanks for capturing me with Your grace once again. In Jesus’s name I pray,
amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Be still before Him.        

The noise of life can be so loud. I’m right there with you trying to hit the mute button each day. Failing on many days. One way I’ve found to center my heart on God is to hear stories of His grace. Can you think of a way that God has woven redemption into your story? Tell me about it on my Facebook page!

More from the Girlfriends
Did today’s redemption message resonate with your heart?  Learn how God wants to bring you beyond your past mistakes and your present challenges to His wholeness, strength and beauty. Broken into Beautiful is a book filled with stories – real stories … gritty and honest, not cleaned up and phony. It’s also filled with Scripture that will inspire you toward the life-changing grace of Jesus. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen’s website.

Friend! Grab yourself some chocolate and let’s celebrate! I have a brand NEW website filled with videos, posts, songs and resources that I believe will be a deep well of encouragement to you. Please swing by to visit: www.GwenSmith.net.

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