Friday, August 4, 2017

The Swamp

Driving down the back roads the other day, heading to see my grandsons, I had to stop my car in the middle of the road and pull over. No, I didn't run out of gas, or have car troubles. But, what I did see stopped me in my path. I was compelled to get out and take a closer look.

Normally when I'm traveling through this area, I just mosey right on along because it's smack dab through the middle of a stinky, dirty, slimy...did I say stinky...swamp. The water is backed up, covered over in muck, and usually has all these dead trees and stumps protruding out of it.

On that day, which happened to be a sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon, it was different. Out in the middle of what was usually a stench filled backwater area, were all of these beautiful lilies! Perched on top of bright greenish blue lily pads sat these delicate blooms. There must have been thousands of them.

It just took me back. I never dreamed anything good... anything that beautiful... could ever come out of all of that mess.

Isn't that how we are? We have stinky, dirty, slimy messes in our lives and we are sometimes certain that's all there will ever be. We ponder whether there will ever be any beauty.

Read Isaiah 61:1-7 with me.

During the days of Isaiah, I can imagine that the Israelites might have been a bit hopeless too. But Isaiah gives them some great news: Jubilee is coming and all will be made new. All of the things that imprisoned them. All of the things that broke their hearts. All of things that caused them to mourn. And all of the things that were torn apart.

Even better, when Christ comes, He brings jubilee! He offers freedom from all the pain and hurt in what can be a stinky, dirty, slimy world. He brings Peace. He provides hope. He gives forgiveness.

What do you need to offer up to Him? Leave it at the foot of the cross. Let Him set you free, heal your brokenness, and give you a crown of beauty for ashes.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
Isaiah 61:3 NLT

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