'To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, the he might be glorified'. – Isaiah chapter 61, verse 3
This past month has been a big one for us.
After many years of saving and looking for the right property, we have bought and moved into a house which is on a lovely block of land. We are blessed and thankful however there is a lot of work ahead. You see, our house is in need of a little, or rather a lot of, love! It would be perfect for 'House Rules' (the renovation show) however, unfortunately, applications for next year have already closed!
It is a renovator's dream and while I am not overly gifted in this area, my husband has many of the skills required to see our house transform. It will be a journey and a lot of work but we can see the potential and already we are seeing huge improvements and it is very exciting!
A Beautiful Mess
When we first went through the house, it was quite simply, a beautiful mess! The house had not been occupied for a couple of years and it showed.
The yard was overgrown, large sections of the veranda was missing, little trees sprouted out of the gutters, the pool looked more like a green swamp (and it still does to be honest) and it was obvious it had been well and truly neglected.
It really amazed and surprised me of just how bad a house can get if it isn't maintained and taken care of. This got me thinking and I felt the Spirit speak to me and likened this to relationships and in particular relationship with Him.
I was thinking about how the house would have gradually gotten worse, how the damage may not have been very obvious at the start yet after a few years of neglect all of a sudden it had turned into a big mess.
I felt God speak to me about if I started to neglect my relationship with Him and I don't put time aside to spend in His presence and word, then my relationship has the potential to become neglected and I in turn could become an absolute mess.
Just like a house needs regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly and gardens need water, weeding, love and attention, so too does my relationship with God.
But here comes the exciting part...
At any given moment, no matter how much of a mess I may be, God sees amazing potential and what I or others might see as only ugliness, beyond repair perhaps, God sees as beautiful.
I don't pretend for one second that I have all the answers, but through what God has revealed to me I believe through openness, repentance, forgiveness, constant and consistent time and effort and abiding in Christ, major improvements will be made in restoring a neglected relationship. Thankfully through God's grace and strength he can turn my ugliness into beauty.
Beauty for Ashes
I love the song, Something Beautiful. Part of the lyrics are:
Something beautiful, something good.
All my confusion, he understood.
And all I had to offer him, was brokenness and strife.
He made something beautiful out of my life.
We might be in such a huge, ugly mess we don't even know where to start! (Much like our house really!) But if we just begin and start small then little by little transformation will happen. There might be a lot of scrubbing and scraping and tears involved, but through giving God our nothing, I truly believe he can make it into something beautiful.
Jo Fuller is a primary school teacher with degrees in journalism and education. She currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and young son.
Jo Fuller's archive of articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jo-fuller.html