Today is Ash Wednesday and it has me reflecting on one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Isaiah 61. My heart is heavy because I miss "my people + my kids" more than I knew was ever humanly possible. The months that have passed between seeing them have been hard and as I try to brace myself for the couple of months left to go, I feel the weight, the pain, the longing, the ashes. 

But as I sit here, I also have to reorient my heart towards the good news that life doesn't stay dark and gloomy and full of ashes. Instead, we're given the promise that He will create beauty from our ashes every single time. I don't know what ashes you're sitting with today, but I hope you know the promise He has given. You don't have to sit in your ashes for the rest of your life - beauty will come. It always does. And Jesus will be the one to bring it.

In Lisa Bevere's book, Without Rival, she talks about how we serve a God that is without rival. The Gospel is the ultimate beauty from ashes moment. Amen. I love the way she phrases this because I feel that she captures that essence so well. It's been speaking to my heart all week.

Our God declares the end in the beginning. 
In Christ, God loved us before we loved him, 
caught us before we fell,
forgave us before we asked,
clothed us in righteousness before we realized we were naked,
and cleansed us before we were aware of our filth.

That is love, beauty, and faithfulness all wrapped up in one. He didn't leave us in despair; He had a plan to meet our needs before we ever knew those needs existed in us. With this in mind, we can know with certainty that He also has a plan to give us the beautiful headdress that He has promised in place of our ashes. 

One of my favorite characteristics of God is His faithfulness. You'll hear me say it all the time, but He is faithful; I believe that into the deep depths of my soul. As I reflect on who I once was, who I am now, and who He is calling me to be, I can't help but praise Him for His faithfulness towards me. 

He never fails, never disappoints, and is always on time. He's faithful to redeem, restore, heal, and liberate. He keeps His covenant promises to us and never forsakes or forgets. Because of this, we can look forward with hope and assurance. We can be sure that He will turn our ashes into beauty, our mourning into joy, and our faint spirits into praises. Because He is faithful, we can be faith-filled.

This is the God we believe in, the Jesus we surrender our lives to, and the Spirit we allow to lead us day after day. Hold fast to His promises and rejoice in His faithfulness. Remember this today and everyday that the ashes surround you, pain is part of your story, and hope seems lost. Beauty is coming, my friends! It always does without fail.