The white car sat forlornly on the side of the road, pushed out to the edge of the property. The tires were missing and its front end was buckled from some sort of impact. I passed it every morning on my way to work – it’s wasn’t a pretty sight. That is until one midsummer morning when I noticed that green vines were beginning to curl out from the crumpled hood and around the back end. Day by day the vines progressed taking over more and more of the broken-down car. Then came the flowers – bright blue blooms swarming over the vines and covering the car until it became a mound of morning glories. That old broken-down wreck was now a beautiful sight to behold. Every morning as I passed that spot, I looked over at the lovely mound of flowers, their faces lifted to the sun and I smiled.
Your life may feel like a wreck today. It may be a series of circumstances you couldn’t control or choices you made yourself, but there you sit – broken, pushed aside, going nowhere. Oh, my friend, God specializes in bringing beauty from ashes – (Isaiah 61:3). I know it’s true because He did it for me. He took this broken-down woman with nothing to offer but pain and foolishness and made my life “a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” (61:3b). He took on all my sin and shame and gave me His holiness. He washed me clean, dressed me in robes of righteousness, and gave my life meaning, hope, peace, and Joy.
If you will allow Him, He will do the same for you. He will cover you with the precious, blood of His Son Jesus and His love will turn your broken-down life into a garden of splendor – a thing of beauty. And every time you look at yourself you’ll smile at what God has done.
I’ve never thought of myself as anyone special or noteworthy. In fact, I’ve always had a pretty low opinion of myself. Lots of things in my life factored into that, but I know I am not the only person who feels the same about themselves. Low self-esteem is one of the most common issues in the world, especially in nations that have such disparity between the talented, powerful, and beautiful and the ordinary, everyday person. The cosmetic and plastic surgery industries have built their fortunes on it. And satan loves to pile on more and more.
Several years ago, God gave me an image of a challis that was at first tarnished and dull. But when wine was poured into it and the master picked up the challis and drank the wine, a little bit of the tarnish disappeared. Over and over it was filled and he drank and the touch of his hands buffed the challis till the old tarnished metal was gleaming with a warm rich glow. He impressed on my heart that the challis was me. When He first took me in I was tarnished and dull, nothing of consequence nor beauty. The wine that filled the challis was produced when I surrendered myself to Him in obedient service. When I serve, the wine is poured; as the wine is poured, He drinks and the touch of His hand wears away the tarnish and makes me glow. I’ve never ever forgotten that image. I believe it is a promise that as I pour myself out for Him, He is transforming me into something – someone beautiful. Someone who looks like Jesus.
Beloved, that’s what He will do for you too. Life may have left you feeling low and unlovely. But He wants to bring beauty out of every tarnished, scarred, unlovely place in your life. He wants to make your life glow. Will you surrender to the touch of the Master’s hand?
I live in the south where heritage is a big deal. I recall often hearing my grandmother and aunts talking about someone new to the community and asking “Who are their people?” They wanted to know if the new comers came from a family with a good reputation (and money of course). In the first century, during Jesus’ day, one’s family lineage was everything. Only men from the line of Levi could serve in the temple, and the royal heritage was reserved only for those descended from Judah, and from David to be specific. That is why the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew (1:1-17) is so surprising. Jesus’ family heritage was anything but stellar. Matthew records at least three liars, two adulterers, a thief, a cheat, a murder, a womanizer, an idolater, a woman who was from a despised race, a prostitute, a man who impregnated his daughter-in-law and a host of foolish people. God chose this family of dysfunctional human beings to be the earthly lineage of His Son.
Aren’t you glad to know that God isn’t looking for perfect people? He’s looking for people with a messed-up past to bring the power and beauty of His Son into the world. He’s looking for people like you and me with scars that tell others our stories of redemption. He’s looking for the most unlikely people to show off His majesty and glory. Beloved, if you have a past – or even a present – that is filled with mistakes and regrets, you are just the person God is looking for. If He could turn all my ashes into beauty, imagine what He can do through you.