Did you ever trade for stuff
when you were a kid?
You know, because you didn't have money
You'd just swap something
stupid off the floor of your room
that you didn't care about anymore
for some thing super cool
that someone else had.
Turns out, you usually just got
something stupid off the floor
of someone else's room
that they no longer cared about.
I read about what has to be
the greatest swap in all of history.
Because this was a trade
for something not just off the ground.
This was a trade FOR the ground...
and what was given in return
was way better than anything
I've ever seen.
It was written as a promise
of One who was to come,
and this was what He was to do...
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called
trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord,
that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV
But to clarify, I want us to fully understand.
At the time this was promised,
if you were a mourner...
you would have been seen in public,
wearing a garment of sackcloth
which was made of a rough goat hair material;
you would have removed
any head covering and
thrown dust from the ground,
or ashes upon your head
while sitting in a pile of them.
This would be continued for at least seven,
but not more than thirty days,
often accompanied by fasting.
This mourning would have been
brought on by
sorrow and grief over a loss...
by death, illness or mishap of a loved one,
relative, friend or honored leader;
or over a national tragedy.
Now, enter the promised One.
And, let us say that you are the mourner.
The Comforter, in order to fulfill the promise...
walks right up to you.... the mourner,
reaches down and takes you by the hand.
Maybe it's not the end of your mourning.
You try to resist, to not look up.
But His gentle tug will not let go.
His eyes are tender, kind and sincere.
There is no threat, no fear, as
you hold more firmly His hand.
He helps you up from the ashes...
Gently He begins to bow your head down.
He directs you to shake the dust loose
as He lightly tossles your hair
loosening the ash...
releasing it into a new and gentle breeze
which begins to whisk away
the pile at your feet.
You feel lighter already,
as you right your head to see
Him reach into the fabric bag
slung loosely across his body.
He pulls out a simple garland of
wildflowers woven in a circle
and gently places it upon your head.
Beauty, not simply an adjective...
it is an actual crown,
a headdress for a bride
to replace the ashes of mourning.
And now for the sackcloth...
it is heavy and hot,
rough and worn ragged.
It was never your first choice
but you continued to wear it daily
believing it was all you really deserved.
He gently motions you forward
to look upon a clothesline where
you see several simple white linen garments
hanging loosely in the breeze.
It is clear, He intends for you to have one.
You begin your steps forward...
but stop to look back at Him for reassurance.
He nods and smiles... yes, for you.
As you are propelled toward them...
these garments of praise,
your spirit of heaviness falls hard to the ground.
When you return, changed into white,
He stands with a small, simple flask.
Tipping it over to splash a few drops
onto His fingertips...
you can smell the joyous aroma.
And He touches your forehead
speaking this, a blessing over you...
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison
to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
We who need healing,
captive and caged,
so often by our own limitations...
long for this Comforter,
this promised One.
He is still for us,
not only a promise for those
of Israel past.
But even now,
This can be our
acceptable year of the Lord!
We can be
If only we will stand up
from this pitiful pile of ashes,
shake the off dust of our
sorrowful self image,
and take His crown of beauty,
receive His garment of praise.
Not because we deserve it,
but only because He offered it
out of His tender mercy and grace;
His lovingkindness and forgiveness.
It is a free gift.
Let us release the grasp...
of whatever we hold onto
and open-handed receive
all He has to offer.
Today I wear this crown of beauty,
and I put on this garment of praise.
Thank You, Jesus,
for seeing me as acceptable.
Word of God
train me today...
To stop mourning the things
this world counts as loss.
To wear proudly
these gifts of beauty and praise.
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