Isaiah 61:3 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, that he might be glorified.
If you have known the Johnson Family through the years, you know that we have had a few trials, a few heavy burdens! Quite honestly there have been times that I have said with Job, "My soul is weary of my life." I praise God that He understands our humanity! One trial that came began last July. It was one month before we were to travel to the States for our medical furlough. I will never forget waking up that Sunday morning and my husband calmly telling me that my father had just had a severe stroke. The next two weeks were frantic with a trip to the States and back to Okinawa. It was touch and go, but my father made it through. A miracle from the Lord! As we travelled the long journey back to Okinawa, I will tell you that I wondered why the Lord had just not taken my dad on to Heaven. My dad was athletic, in great shape, and young in his spirit. Now, he was most likely going to have to live in a nursing home and have to be helped with almost every daily task. Time has passed and my father is living in a nursing home and has to be helped with many daily tasks. He is making much progress and even though he is paralyzed on his left side, he still has that athletic attitude, is in great shape for one who has had a major stroke of life changing proportions, and still young in his spirit.
Now for the whole point of this post, the verse above is really for the Israelites, but it is such a beautiful passage and aptly describes what the Lord has done through the trial of my father's stroke; "beauty for ashes"!!! When my dad was in the ICU, the doctors couldn't get over how great his speech was. He was talking so much and even cracking jokes. For the doctors it was a wonderful thing, for his family......... we weren't sure what alien nation had abducted our father and husband! Prior to my dad's stroke, the title "Great Communicator" would NOT have been attributed to him.
This last week as we journeyed back from New England after three conferences, we passed a bus. Randy said, "Honey, that bus said 'Kerkhoven, Minnesota' on the side." I was soooooooooooo excited as we pulled into a rest area and the bus pulled in also! I ran over to the bus and talked to the people coming off. You see my Great Uncle and Aunt had a farm in the tiny town of Kerhoven and most people, even people in Minnesota, have not heard of the town!! We spent many happy hours at the farm and I have wonderful memories of it. As I talked to the tour guide and told him why I was so excited, he told me that he helped put a roof on "Kenny's barn". I was so thrilled! What great memories the Lord brought to my mind as I talked to those people from Minnesota! After I climbed back in the car, I had to call my dad and tell him about the gift the Lord gave me through sweet memories just moments ago. He answered the phone and proceded to tell me that he was in the middle of a pedicure and manicure! He is so funny! Then he said, "I was just telling the lady about you kids and what all of you do and how proud I am of all of you. You do know that I am proud of you, Kelly, don't you?" What could I say??? The new Great Communicator had spoken. I could only whisper, "Yes, Dad." I got passed the lump in my throat and told him about the bus, which didn't seem nearly such a big deal anymore. You see, "Beauty for Ashes" is what I received that afternoon on the Ohio tollway.
What's your trial and what is the "Beauty" the Lord wants to give you through that trial? Ask Him for it, Wait for it, Look for it!!! Don't let the "Beauty" pass you by due to the bitterness you might feel because of the "ashes".