Beauty for Ashes

This morning my youngest daughter and I were memorizing some scriptures before school.   A few days ago, she had confided in me that she has a real strong fear of the dark, and gets scared whenever she has to walk somewhere by herself.  I was just like her as a girl–all the way into my teen years.  What made the difference for me was to memorize what God says about fear and recite it when I was feeling afraid.  Passages like II Timothy 1:7 which says “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind.”  and Isaiah 41:10, which says, “Fear not for I am with you.  Be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, and I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  We talked about what those scriptures mean, and my daughter wanted to memorize them, so we practiced them this morning until she could say them confidently.  We sang a song about not being afraid from Isaiah 45, and ended our morning together with prayer before she boarded the bus for school.

Several hours later, I was singing at the Senior Center here in town for a small group of senior citizens who live in the facility there.  Every month I come and sing for an hour to them and with them.  Sometimes my audience is lively, other times they are asleep. 🙂  Today was a mix of those states of consciousness, but one lady in particular struck up a conversation with me when I first arrived.  She had just turned 82, and had been moved up here to Homer a month ago by her son who brought her here after her daughter, with whom she was living in Sacramento, passed away.

Three or four songs into my repertoire, the woman got up to leave and she was crying.  I continued on and later saw that she had moved to the back of the room where an employee was consoling her.  When the hour was concluded, I went to the back of the room to give her a hug and talk with her.  I suspected that she was still feeling emotional over the death of her daughter and the sudden life change of moving to Alaska, but what I found out instead is that she was hurting over an 82 year old ache.  “My mama never loved me.” she said.  “She always told me I was fat.  I don’t know why she never could love me.  It still hurts so bad.  She is dead now, but I will always wonder if she ever changed her mind about me.  She never said so.”

I looked at this petite-framed, little lady.  Her hair was very thin, and her body fragile.  Her eyes were still bright and full of life although now puddled with tears.  I turned to her and said, “Do you know what God thinks about you?  He thinks you are beautiful!!  You were made in His image you know?  He has your name engraved in the palm of His hand and he calls you his beloved.  There isn’t a moment of the day that He isn’t thinking about you and His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore.  He even rejoices over you with singing and dancing!”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she said, “It sure is great to hear something like that.”

We talked for a few moments about how the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy” and sometimes he uses the mouths of the people closest to us to do it.  Her mama must have been a hurting woman who let her anger and bitter words run out of her mouth to her daughter.  Maybe she didn’t mean to behave that way, but even so, what the enemy meant for evil, God could make into something good.

I looked at this beautiful lady and said, “Eighty-two years is too long to let the devil talk to you and tell you that you are ugly.  Do you know what you need to do?  Every time you start hearing that voice tell you that you are fat and unlovable, you need to stop and think about  and say what God says about you instead.  You need to ask God to sing over you and then listen for His songs.  You don’t need to hurt anymore over lies the enemy spread.”

“I guess I need to start training myself not to listen to the devil anymore”, she said with hope.  We cried and prayed together for a while, and I thanked her for allowing me to talk with her, she thanked me for listening to her.  We hugged, and I headed home.

As much as God changes us from the inside out as we come to know Him more, and read His Words in the Bible, there are those times when the changes in our hearts and minds are a deliberate decision on our part to think His thoughts even when they don’t match ours.  That’s how our minds are transformed.  His words and ideas are the Truth, and our thoughts and words need to learn to match His.  We all have areas of our life that need His transformation, and wounds in our hearts that need to be healed and put to rest.  The only remedy is a conscious effort to put our mind on Him and learn His thoughts and His ways.

From an eight-year old to an eighty-two year old, we are all in need of transformation.  We need God’s Words to be the loudest voice we hear, and be the comfort and strength that sees us through our todays and tomorrows.  I am reminded once again that God is still trading beauty for ashes and strength for fear.

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5 thoughts on “Beauty for Ashes

  1. Cate,
    It is 4:30am and I have been awake for the last hour and a half trying to get ahold of the words of God and what he says about me and my situation in a half conscious state that is the result of my mind rolling over the fear and worry and words of self doubt that the devil is speaking to me in the night. I finally got up and came to my computer to battle back with worship on Pandora, but it was your timely words that spoke to my soul. That was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for living out your faith publicly and privately. Love you.

    1. Buffy, I so love you!
      I’ll pray with you over your nights as you wrestle with your doubts.
      The longer I am alive, I realize that the devil’s war against us is deliberate and calculated, and we just don’t see it most of the time. So when God does bring it to mind, that we are in a battle, I pray that my actions and reactions become deliberate. Sometimes we just need to call in more troops to help us with the battle. 😉
      I’ll stand with you!
      Much love,
      Cate

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