It comes from a love story (Elisabeth Elliot’s); obviously my application doesn’t sit there. But then today, I see another quote from her about these ashes, which “result when an act of obedience is passed through the fires of God’s perfect–yet mysterious–will.”
Now here this: My obedience isn’t on some grand scale in this season. It’s small, minuscule even. If I had to define it for you, it would simply be a moment by moment surrender and rest in whatever HE–not I–has planned. For the day. For the morning. The minute. The interruptions. The to-do lists. They are all subject to Him, just as I am subject to him. Obedience is where dreaming culminates and thrives.
Some days, it is a sweet surrender. God opens doors and paves ways and makes things clear.
Others, not so much. God seems silent. Distant. Stopped in His tracks.
And I have these ashes. These particles of dust hanging onto an altar, fogging the atmosphere around me.
And last night I knelt in their pilings, broken over what their purpose might be. Knowing the surrender, the burning sacrifice behind them, was not an end, but rather a means of what is ahead. Also, graciously, knowing that somewhere down the line, a dream will be fulfilled from them. God’s work is redemptive, always. And in his beautiful sovereignty, out of these ashes–out of the remnants of the burning–good will arise, glory will shine for him.
But in between, their warmth is no comfort for the waiting.
My hands cannot grasp at these wispy particles. I cannot sort through what I cannot define, form, shape, function–all lost through the fire. And yet so much is still just sitting here, with me, on purpose. For purpose.
In the warfare waging in this waiting, God, with conviction, turned my thoughts outward. Rejoicing can still occur on this ash heap, if I look up from the ashes to those dancing before the altar in the streets.
And then he turned my thoughts upward, to the dreams he has given, the dreams still to be fulfilled. Coming, coming, coming…but I cannot see the big picture here. Only the present. The tough present, that challenges my Christ-given identity as a dreamer, dreaming for the immeasurably more.
Then God reminded me of another dreamer through a dear, dear friend.
“Yea…you know God gives us a little bit at a time. Keeps us relying on Him and seeking His face about the next step..plus, if we saw all the stuff in between, we would probably bail out on Him! I know its hard… Just think about it..when God gives you a vision or a thought and He says, this is how it’ll end, who does that remind you of? Joseph! But imagine if Joseph would’ve seen being sold, the pit, then Potiphar’s house, prison, and finally 2nd in command of Egypt..do you think he would’ve been as eager to see the dream come to pass? Or even relied on God for it to come to pass?”
As long as there is sin-stained substance, there will be ashes.
As long as there are ashes, there has been surrender.
And as long as there has been surrender, hasn’t there then been obedience?
And isn’t that what our dreaming is all about? Desiring to be obedient in the big, bold, beautiful plans our Father has for us?