In 2 Samuel 13, the lovely princess, Tamar, was raped by her half brother. To show her disgrace she put ashes on her head (2 Samuel 13.19). Ashes represent self-disgust, humility or grief and they are a physical representation of the pain or guilt one feels.
I’ve had to wear ashes many times, but the problem came when I never washed them off. I would make a mistake, get hurt or feel sorrow, and I would smear that pain all of my body. The ashes affected every aspect of my life, and I couldn’t be the princess God wanted to shine His glory through because I was all covered in dirt.
I used to feel like that was the way it was supposed to be until God confronted me. He said, “Is the blood on the cross not strong enough to wash you clean?” Hebrews 9.14 reads, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (NIV). I realized that whenever I clung unto my grief, I was telling God that He wasn’t strong enough to redeem me. Also, I became useless in serving Him.
In Isaiah 61.3, God says that He will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” I don’t think that we can quite fathom this exchange. We hand over our ashes and God gives us a beautiful crown instead? How could that be? It is only possible because God has an unquenchable and unshakable love for us. We live in a broken world where people get hurt, and God knows this. So He beautifully matches our shame with His grace to compensate for the sin surrounding us. However, we have freewill to receive God’s grace or reject it.
God never promised this life would be easy, but He does offer us His grace in a broken world and blesses us when we love and obey Him (Deuteronomy 30.11-19). I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of wearing my shame. I want to surround myself by beautiful crowns; so when I see Jesus at throne, I can throw them at His feet. Let us start gathering God’s grace instead of our shame, so we can do the mighty work that God has planned for us.
“Stalwart walks in step with God; his path blazed by God, he’s happy. If he stumbles, he’s not down for long; God has a grip on his hand” (Psalm 37.23 MSG).