Beauty for Ashes

Front of picture
Back of picture

Years ago, I decided to take up the hobby of cross stitch.  I found it very satisfying to create something beautiful from a blank piece of fabric.  During those years, I made some wonderful pieces of artwork.  Some I kept, and some I gave away.  One very special cross stitch picture I did was of my daughter when she was 10 years old.  As the picture began to take form, I was more surprised than anyone that it was a perfect likeness of the photo I used to made the pattern.  At least the front of the picture was.  The back was a mess of treads and knots.

When I compare the front of this picture against the back, it reminds me of the life of an Old Testament Bible character.  Her life was definitely a knotted up mess.  She had a lot going against her and some of the mess wasn't even her fault.  After all, she was forced to marry a man who didn't love her.  A woman in those days would have found it nearly impossible to disagree with her father.  Leah dutifully followed her father's deceitful plan.  And...we know deceitfulness never works well for any of the participants.  Leah fought against jealousy towards her own sister, Rachel, who was the pretty one and the wife that her husband loved.  Even the meaning of Leah's name is an uphill battle.  In Hebrew it means weary.    The word weary paints a clear picture of Leah's messy knotted up life.  

Yet, God saw Leah and blessed her with children.  Or was that a blessing?  Leah's daughter was raped, two of her sons plotted and committed mass murder and her boys were involved in the selling of their half brother into slavery.   Still, with all these heartaches and woos, it was through Leah's line that Christ would come.  It's interesting what Leah's name means in the Greek--The Greek spelling of Leah is Lia which means bringer of good news. 

God can take the worst tangled up knotted mess and turn it into something of beauty when it is placed in His hands.  In Isaiah 61:3, God promises Israel...and us...something amazing.

To all who mourn in Israel he will give: 
beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; 
praise instead of heaviness. 
For God has planted them like strong 
and graceful oaks for his own glory.

God see's our miseries no matter how small they may seem or how huge.  He will step into our lives and create something beautiful out of the mess if we let Him.

What side of your life’s picture are you focusing on?


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