The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way.—J. R. R. TOLKIEN
How would you live differently if you believe this to be true? The final test of any belief or faith that claims to provide an answer to our lives is this: Does the one explain the other? Does the story bring into perspective the pages you were already holding, the days of your life? Does it take everything into account? Does it explain the longing in your heart for a life you haven’t yet found? Most of all, does it give you back your heart, lead you to the Source of life? Something has been calling you and you have heard it in the stories that have captured your heart.
For days I pondered this image. I don’t know its full meaning; I only know what God invited me to write. Here is part of a journal entry:
“What did you say?” She repeated her observation, and I started to turn cold. The phrase unlocked a story I had never shared with her. Will I be brave enough to unmask myself and show her the me she has not seen?
“For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
I don’t know all that was exposed in my friend’s simple remark, but I do know it is a story that waits for redemption. It is a story that compels me to ask: Will I be seen and be loved unconditionally (Romans 5:8)? Will someone chooses me for my heart, for what I’m becoming (1 Samuels 16:7)?
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
Given the cultural background and the context, we can see that the promise of “beauty for ashes” is a promise to God’s people that He planned to deliver them from their plight, and ultimately designed to send them the Messiah. Today, Christians can still look to these verses for encouragement and hope when facing difficult circumstances.
It was customary for people to sit in ashes or cover themselves with ashes to express mourning or loss, such as grief over a distressing situation (2 Sam 13:19), grief over a national disaster (Esther 4:1), or pain associated with repentance from one’s sin (Jonah 3:5-7). Ashes were therefore associated with pain, loss and suffering, which is a key to understanding the phrase in question. And to understand the meaning of this phrase, we must also consider the context in which we find it: Isaiah 61. This entire chapter is a prophecy foretelling 1) God’s plan for the nation of Israel, and 2) the arrival of the Messiah and how His arrival was destined to impact the world.
It’s also helpful to know when the prophet Isaiah prophesied these words, the nation of Israel had been taken captive, and their captors heavily oppressed the people. In addition, political turmoil in the region further complicated their situation, and many people were confused, afraid, and certain God had left them for good.
Isaiah reminded God’s people in many places that it was their sin against a holy God that had forced His hand into allowing their pain and suffering; on the other hand, he also reminded them that God is merciful, His anger doesn’t last forever, and He had future blessing planned for them. The words of comfort we find in Isaiah 61 gave them hope in the midst of their dire circumstances.
The vision involves playing with a friend alongside a stream. My friend had crossed over the stream while I stayed on the other side. We walked on opposite sides until the water got too deep for me to cross over to her side. In the vision, Jesus is asking me to cross to the other side but I was too afraid to do it?
I noticed our stories were intertwined and are involved in a community of stories, then one story will eventually bump into and awaken other stories.
This sound too good to be true ”An awakened story that is properly cared for will take an individual, a relationship, and a community in directions no one can predict. It is an investment in one another’s stories brings wild dividends.” – I believe it.
Our life is a journey of high stakes and frequent danger. And one day our dreams will come true. We really live happily ever after. All we long for; we shall have; all we long to be, we will be. All that hurt us so deeply will be swept away. And then our real life begins.
You and I are in a story but what is your role in the Story? My role? In truth, the only one who can tell you that is the Author. We must yield our all to Jesus and ask him to restore us as his own. We ask him to make us all he intended us to be—to tell us who we are and what we are now to do. Just when we are about to abandon hope, we ask him to remove the veil from our eyes and from our hearts. To be able to see clearly what he is doing in our lives. (Romans 13:-1) The beauty of these pages from our story is that all seemed to speak a promise of a life restored. And life is the offer, friend. Let us not forget that.
God’s story will be each our own. Your story will be mine, mine will be yours, and we all will be his.
Adapted from John Eldredge ”Epic”