Summary: Marked by pain. Residue of rejection. Disfigured by depression. Ashy! There comes a day when it is time to Get Off Your Ash.
"Get Off Your Ash"
They call for you. You hear your name and week after week, month after month you strap on the armor and go out to do battle. You walk out and worship, do drama, witness, serve, work and labor. But you do so while you are wounded, mortally wounded. You put on your armor and conceal your wound because that is what a good soldier does. You can’t let anyone see your pain, your hurt, your weakness. However, each time you go out you get weaker and weaker. In Biblical terms you look ashy.
You are marked by pain. Covered by the residue of hurt, misuse, harsh words, loneliness, and brokenness. You have been mishandled and maybe mislead. In the privacy of our bedroom or our car we wallow in the pain. We cry, we mourn, but when the lights come on we wage wipe off the marks we think can be seen and we go and perform. We have become pros at hiding the smudge.
But you look ashy. I see past the mask, the act, and I see the smear caused by the angry parent. Is see the blotch left by a hateful classmate. I can see the stain that is the result of the boyfriend or girlfriend who has crushed your heart and your hope. I see the scar caused by the friend who has stabbed you in the back. You look ashy. They are calling your name, but you look ashy. They want you to prepare and come through like you always do, but you look ashy. We think we can hide it. We think we can fool them. We think that we cover it up. We convince ourselves that no one will notice. But it is apparent. It is obvious. It disfigures you. You look ashy.
We aren’t the first to be wounded and still strap on the armor to fight. There are many examples throughout Scripture that we could examine. But perhaps the one person that is most like us is David. David was wounded. He was overlooked by his father. Underestimated and mistrusted by his brothers. Misunderstood by a madman king who also happens to be his father-in-law. Ridiculed by his wife. Almost killed by his followers and closest friends. Betrayed by his own flesh. Yet before he became king and even after he took this place on the throne, until the time of his failure with Bathsheba, David would strap on his armor and fight. He never missed a beat. He was never defeated. While wounded he fought effectively and successfully. He was marked by pain. Marked by hurt. Marked mortally by the issues of life. David was ashy. Like Job he finds himself sitting on the ash heap of brokenness.
And like David, like Job, we too find ourselves, God’s men and women of faith and power, covered by wounds.
Maybe David’s story is your story. Hurt. Lonely. Helpless. Despair. Anguish. Heartache. What caused your wound? Cancer? Cares? Concerns? Family? Friends? Foes? Men? Ministry? Lost love? Lost dream? Lost hope? Lost opportunity? I don’t know what has caused you to hurt, but I would say to you from examining David’s life that what you are running from is not nearly as important as what you are running to. David knew something that we need to know. When we are wounded, when we are covered by ash, when marred and scarred we must understand that we must run to and experience Psalm 113:7-9.
Psalm 113:7-9: He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.
In other words, what God wants to do for you today is to get you off your ash. He wants elevate you – he will seat you with princes. He wants to make you fruitful again – he takes the barren and gives them children again. He will remove you from the ash.
In fact, may I encourage you, in the midst of pain, to once again rely on Jeremiah 8:22.
The prophet asks a rhetorical question, “Is there not a Balm in Gilead?” We know the answer. The answer is yes there is a Balm in Gilead and His name is Jesus. How does this speak to me and my pain? Balm was used and would draw out the poison and cause it to heal without scar. The word Gilead means “Raw” or “Rugged”. In other words, God wants to meet you at the rawest and rugged place of your life and produce healing.
What you cover He cannot heal. What you conceal He cannot cleanse. He desires to lift you out of your ash today. He desires to apply the Balm of Gilead. He wants to make it possible to fight, to perform, to serve, to live in health rather than in hurt. He wants you to get off your ash. To put the pain behind you. To refuse to live wounded the rest of your life. We must willingly put down our armor, our game, our mask and allow him and others to see us at our most vulnerable state. He will lift you and place you!