He Gives Beauty for Ashes

beauty for ashesIn days of old, and in times of mourning, Jews put on sackcloth, a coarse, rough unkempt sort of clothing. Then they spread dust and ashes on their heads. In times of rejoicing, splendid clothing made of tapestry, or rich, royal colors were donned, and ointment poured on the head, in celebration.

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Is. 61:3

I was wondering one night, when I couldn’t sleep, if God had a purpose for my life experiences. All the hard, painful things seemed so random, and my life such a shambles. I couldn’t see any way He could make use of it all, or that the beauty I was waiting for, after all the ashes of my life reigned down upon my head, would ever emerge. So where was this beauty for ashes, I demanded of Him, in my rage??? Here was the answer He gave me, in the night watches.


My life is a tapestry woven of old;
Intricate patterns of silver and gold.
Here and there, rich purple, crimson;
There where deepest wounds have risen.
‘Twould be too brassy…bold,
If all were the silver and the gold.

Of clear design, this could not be
A trifle woven just by me.
A Master Weaver, Yes! ‘tis He,
That asks me merely a shuttle be.
The loom – this world, both tall and wide.
The shuttle – it’s sent from side to side,
Touching each thread, as it makes its way;
Yielding, ‘twould seem to the Weavers sway.

But has this shuttle always been
Of passive and obedient mien?
Observing then, more closely there,
You’ll see – what’s that??  A hole or tear?
The Weaver bends with tear streaked face…
“How can I, this mistake erase?
The shuttle dropped a thread or two.”

‘Twas not the plan I had for you.”
The Weaver turns aside to think,
How that design and this to link.
And as I watch Him toil thus,
It reminds me of His love for us.
Planning, weaving, planning again;
Wooing and loving us from our sin.

I look, and, yes, it’s surely true,
The weaving here is very new.
Rare are holes, the pattern bold,
Quite unlike the designs of old.
The shuttle moves with speed and ease;
 I joy to see, and praise release!
They two, it seems, now work as one.
And may it be ‘til the work is done.

I like to think that this tapestry,
On that wonderful day when we’re all made free,
Will hang in joyful praise of Him
Who did not weave by the shuttle’s whim.

His Servant, Holly Nelson, July 10, 1989

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