“… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
Have you ever messed up so badly that you thought to yourself, Well … God might be able to use her, but not me. My life is a dumpster fire …?
It seems logical to me that God would make something good out of the bad things that happen to me, but what about those things I do to myself? The sinful situations of my own making?
I have a hard time accepting unfailing love and grace from my heavenly Father when I do something epically stupid and find myself in a hot mess.
In our key verse, Isaiah 61:3, there’s no distinction on when God loves us enough to bestow on us a crown of beauty, nor does it say He only uses certain ashes and not others. It says “… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
In other words, God can turn what has been set ablaze into something beautiful … even if you were the one who lit the match.
Isaiah 54:10 also addresses this unconditional type of love: “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
It does not say His unfailing love will remain just so long as the shaken mountain was something done to you and not by you. What it does say, in effect, is this: I will always love you … no matter what.
Many years ago, after suffering as the victim of infidelity in my marriage, I was anguished and heartbroken.
I felt unworthy, unloved and unwanted.
And although I went to the Lord to find healing, it wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked, so I took matters into my own hands by making a terrible choice. To ease the pain and emptiness I was feeling, I had an affair of my own.
Attempting to put a Band-Aid on my shattered pride, I found it did not ease my pain long term — quite the opposite, in fact. What it did was set fire to any hope of reconciliation in my marriage, burn my fairy-tale expectations to the ground, and hurt everyone around me in a cascading flow of lava.
One sinful match I lit myself destroyed it all.
But then something amazing happened — God didn’t leave me there.
He blew life and breath on the ashes I had made and sparked a new flame. A flame of Holy-Spirit fire that released me from my sin and shame.
He gave me forgiveness and unconditional love I did not deserve. Then, He fueled in me a passion to tell others that their mistakes and messes are not the measure of how God sees and loves them. He loves them no matter what.
God uses fire to refine, and over time, great pressure produces valuable diamonds. Sometimes the refiner’s fire is something we fling our own selves into. And that’s OK. He can still make diamonds out of it.
If your impossible and sinful situation seems like too much to use, remember that the hotter the fire, and the greater the pressure, the larger the diamond He can produce in you to wear on your life and reflect His glory that has restored you.
Don’t simply put out your life’s dumpster fire and hide the diamonds. There may be a sister nearby holding a match who needs to hear your story.
Lord, thank You for Your unending grace that has no stipulations. Today, I will embrace the “no matter what” unending love You have for me, even in my messes. Help me take that kind of love and grace and shower my sisters with it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ESV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Have you ever found yourself in a mess of your own making that left you feeling irredeemable?
Take a moment and flip your thinking. What if God used your biggest mistake for His greatest glory? He can — and He will! Share your thoughts about today’s devotion with us in the comments.
© 2020 by Jada McClintick. All rights reserved.
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