The traditional practice of saving a loved one’s ashes in an urn is only one of many options. I recently learned that ashes can be saved as an hourglass, a vinyl record, or a diamond ring. The ashes can be part of a tattoo when sterilized and mixed with ink. An artist can create a portrait mixing ashes into the paint. Stained glass pieces can be bonded together with ashes. Ashes can be transformed into fireworks or even shot gun shells. But my favorite idea was storing ashes in the cute cuddly body of a teddy bear!
Today’s verse is a declaration of what God would do for the Israelites through His prophet, Isaiah. He was to replace the ashes on their heads with a crown of beauty. Those ashes were a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin, along with the sackcloth worn. That itchy rough garment of despair over sin would be replaced with a garment of praise. Joy would replace mourning. God’s forgiveness changes everything!
I do not always feel much sorrow over my own sin. But when I do, it can feel like a crushing weight. Thankfully, He promises to be near the one who is brokenhearted over sin (Psalm 34:18). His forgiveness turns my ashes into a crown of beauty! When I humble myself and go to Him in confession, the ugliness of sin disappears. Despair over my past mistakes and failures is transformed into praise for the new start He gives me! He is faithful and just to forgive every single time!
Thank you Lord, for exchanging ashes for beauty!