The Ashes of All We Once Were

We burn trees for heat and fuel. The process is fast, hot, and all consuming. When the fire is hot enough, nothing remains of the original wood, just the leftover ash.

It seems the ash is a waste product, good for no practical purpose except to fill our waste bins and to be hauled away with next week’s garbage.

However, ash can be repurposed, and in the reuse can do fantastic things that we could never accomplish with the original stacks of firewood from which it came.

The same is true with our lives. When relationships fail, or finances go up in flames, or we step out on the promises of God, and like Peter, we begin to sink, we feel we have nothing left. We don’t understand where our lives have gone wrong. All we can see are the remains of our burnt-up hopes, dreams, and expectations. What can we do with the ashes that surround us?

Lets look at five examples:

Ashes to Sanitizer:

We can make lye water out of the ash. Lye water is a great sanitizer. It will work on most hard surfaces—including windows—and on cloth as well.

Numbers 19:17 tells us:

“For the unclean they shall take some ashes of the burnt sin offering, and fresh water shall be added in a vessel.”

This is our chance for a fresh start, to wipe the slate clean and to make sure there is nothing in our lives to hinder our walk with God.

Ashes to Stain Remover:

If we add ash to a fresh stain on fabric, then after about five minutes rub it gently with fresh bread, the stain will be gone.

Job 2:8 tells us:

“And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.”

The pain of our past experiences can be the salve that helps us and others through the hard times that are yet to come.

Ashes to Moth Balls:

Ash keeps moths from destroying what we’ve stored away. Sprinkle stored clothes with ash, then shake it off when we take out the clothes.

Daniel 9:3 tells us:

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

When we sprinkle the remains of past experiences through our daily walk with God, we create a reminder of Gods protecting hand over us, keeping our robes of righteousness shining before the King.

Ashes to Insect Repellant:

Scattering ash in basements, in the corners of cabinets, or even in the garden will drive out ants, roaches, and rats.

Hebrews 9:13 tells us:

“The sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer [will] sanctify for the purification of the flesh…”

The sins that would beset us cannot get through the ashes that are sanctified by our salvation and our faith in God.

Ashes to Immortality:

Eggs can be preserved almost indefinitely in a special recipe made from ash and several other products. Fruits and vegetables stored in layers of ash will last days or even years longer than they would otherwise.

Isaiah 61:1-3 says:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes…”

God burns away all that we were, so that he can keep our souls until the final Day of the Lord, when he shall come in glory and vengeance to reclaim his own.

In an old fable, the phoenix rises from the ashes to live once again, reborn in youth and beauty. The irony of the phoenix is that it cannot be reborn until the fire has consumed it completely.

That is us when we let ourselves and the lives we treasure so much be burned away by the consuming power of our Almighty God. When we are reborn in him, we will become beautiful.

What God scours away leaves room for that which he wishes to make new in us.

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Originally Published 2-9-15 in Hope

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