On the weekend, I attended a Women’s conference “Beauty for Ashes”, it was a 2-day conference and let me just start by saying that I worshipped, I learnt, I was encouraged and I wept. It was such a beautiful and uplifting time to be surrounded by women with a passion for God and a love and eagerness to share that with others and in addition we enjoyed some great food and some good laughs.
On the morning of the second day we had a surprise, two baptisms, you read that right, not just one but two, both women were of the same family and they shared their beautiful and heart-warming testimonies and said that God moved in their heart on the previous day after they headed back home from the conference to get baptised the next day at the conference. They called up our pastor and was hoping that she will say that at such a short notice, the next day was not possible but another day would be more suitable. But lo and behold, the pastor said YES.
So, much to the surprise and joy of all who were there, we got to be a part of this beautiful commitment, and got to see their entire family there sharing that moment with them.
But wait, the beautiful moment did not just end there. One of the women’s partner (who was there to share her moment of commitment) said that he wanted to share a few words, he started off by praying and thanking God for working in her life. He then proceeds to share with us all the first time they met, the song he wrote for her, and what she means to him, all of our eyes were glued to what was happening, my mouth was probably open, and I was pretty much at the edge of my seat by then.
And then he got down on one knee, there was a collective sigh and yes, some tears (saw quite a few women rummaging around in their handbags for tissues). And when she said Yes! the whole crowd just burst into applause and congratulated the newly engaged couple. Oh, there is nothing better than mixing faith and a sprinkling of romance to have made this weekend unforgettable.
Well, let’s shift gears now from the romantic episode of the weekend to touch upon the foundational scripture verse of the conference.
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of Ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a
praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour.”
The book of Isaiah is full of promises that we can cling to and this verse is one such verse that we can hold close in times of struggle. This verse reminds us that
God Comforts those who mourn,
In Him, we find hope instead of hopelessness
In Him, there is joy instead of Sorrow
In Him, we can praise instead of despair.
He will give us a crown of beauty instead of Ashes
Whatever has caused you pain, give them to God and he will carry your burden. However, drained or broken you feel, place your trust in God and he will restore you. He will trade your ashes for the beauty we can find only in Him. His love, His strength and His glory will shine through every broken piece in us.
In him we find Joy- finding Joy should not be confused with finding happiness. The speaker at the conference shared that
Happiness is circumstantial whereas Joy is relational.
How do we find Joy? We find Joy by finding God, pursuing Him, having a relationship with Him. That is how we find Joy because He is the fullness of joy.
Choose to wear the garment of praise- it is amazing what praising God can do to your troubled and saddened heart. Make the choice to praise Him in all situations, be seen as one who praises Him and let that be what is outward shining to others. The spirit of heaviness lifts when you put on your garment of praise.
And they will be called Oaks of righteousness, a planting of God. This is the result of the Lord’s redeeming work and the effect it has on God’s people. This speaks of the solidity and strength of being rooted in God. We are redeemed and planted by Him, let us display His splendour individually and corporately, reflecting His glory in all that we do.
When you think of an Oak you think of a large tree on its own, but the verse mentions Oaks, plural. Believers are not meant to go on in their journey alone. Yes, there are some who enjoy solitude and I am one of them, but we need each other to grow, to be encouraged and reach higher and deeper in our spiritual Journey. We grow stronger and taller together. And a glimpse of that is what I got to witness this weekend.