BEAUTY FOR ASHES: IMAGE
When I was nineteen years old, I went on my first missions’ trip to Haiti.
Did I mention that I chose to go in the country’s hottest month, August?
Due to the ferocious heat, we slept on the rooftop of the home we were hosted at to experience some relief at night. One evening before going to sleep, I was worshiping the Lord in prayer and song on the roof. As my eyes were closed, God showed me a vision of myself. I was in a dark, cold, deep pit with a shovel in my hand. I appeared to be a million feet deep. I heard these words in my heart, “You’ve dug yourself into this pit.” This was God’s voice speaking to my heart. I was filthy from the dirt I had come into contact with, tired from the shoveling, and depressed from the emptiness of the grave I was digging for myself.
For the past three years, I had been in an unhealthy, ungodly relationship with a young man that I placed on the throne of my heart. It was as if he was my god, not because he demanded the position, but because I had placed my entire identity, value, and reliance upon him. I had allowed my physical, mental, and emotional well-being to be completely contingent upon his opinions, desires, and plans. Every decision I made was in favor of him. I made him lord over my body by having pre-marital sex, lord over my soul by fashioning my thoughts, emotions, and decisions after him, and lord over my heart by prioritizing him over God.
Every choice I made in sin was like another hole dug into the grave I was digging for myself.
Genesis 1:27, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
God did not create me in the image and likeness of this young man. He created me in the image and likeness of Himself. Mirrors display the reflection of someone. God created me to be an image, a mirror-reflection of Him in the earth.
I will be a reflection of the one that I identify with. Therefore, the only person I should be placing my identity in is the One who made me. But here I was, falling in the footsteps of my ancestors, Adam and Eve, placing my identity in someone other than God.
The result? Jeremiah 17:5-6 paints the destructive picture:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.”
As I invested my identity, value, confidence, trust, and reliability upon man, I reaped the hopeless, fruitless, and destructive outcomes of that investment.
Was destruction God’s plan for my life? No. Is it God’s plan for your life? No.
John 10:10 confirms this, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
Jesus said the devil’s plan is to steal, kill and destroy you, but His is to give you an abundant life.
How do we experience this abundant, God-kind of life? Well, I received the destructive life through trusting man, therefore, I can receive the abundant life through trusting God.
But just because God has created us in His image, for an abundant life, doesn’t mean we are choice-less robots that are programmed to trust and obey Him. God has created each and every one of us with something called free-will.
But just because God has created us in His image, for an abundant life, doesn’t mean we are choiceless robots that are programmed to trust and obey Him. God has created each and every one of us with something called free-will.
Genesis 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Free will is the currency of our investments and we will reap what we have sown.
Just like Adam and Eve, I chose to place my trust in someone other than God.
The devil came up to Eve and her husband, Adam, who was with her, and said, “You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4 and 5.
Eve and Adam chose to withdraw their heart, soul (mind, emotions, will, and intellect) and body from God, and invest themselves in another.
Genesis 3:6, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
What was the return on their investment? Curses, death, and destruction.
Genesis 3:17, “To Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it al the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Adam abandoned his image, identity, and trust in God for identity, reliance, and trust in a human, his wife, who was influenced by the enemy.
An excerpt from the book Engendered by Patsy Cameneti illustrates the destructive results clearly, “So, what happened to the image of God in the fall? In the same way your mobile phone or a glass object would fall from a counter and shatter and break into pieces, so did man. Man– a reflection of God and His mirror image- fell from the glory of God and broke.”
Here I was, as a missionary in a foreign country, with a fallen identity and shattered image, evangelizing Haitian’s into a relationship with Jesus. Silent tears began to stream down my cheeks. I desperately wanted for Jesus to be my Lord and not man.
I bowed down to my knees in reverence to God on that roof. As I did that, the vision God was showing me slightly changed. No longer was it just me in a deep, dark and cold pit. Behind me was a ladder that reached to the top of the pit. I could see the ladder and as I looked up, I saw light at the top of the pit. God spoke to my heart and said, “Jesus is the ladder.”
Jesus would be my way out of this pit.
I would have to let go of the shovel, which was symbolic of my choices to engage in sin with this man. I would have to arise to my feet, climb the ladder by the grace of God, and look to Heaven.
I whispered to the Lord, “I am so sorry, please, forgive me. I love you and I want you.”
I deserved to die in that pit, separated from God whose nature is Pure, Holy and Right. But God extended me His mercy, forgiveness, and grace through the ladder of His Son, Jesus Christ. Tears flowed rapidly as I felt His presence and love pour over me.
Right now, would be a good time for you to allow the presence of God overflow you. Everyone of us have put ourselves in a pit, separated from God through our investment in sin. You may not have had pre-marital sex, but maybe you’ve entertained impure thoughts toward the opposite or same sex. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “If you look with lust in your eyes at the body of a woman who is not your wife, you’ve already committed adultery.” That same scripture would be applicable to the body of a man.
I’m not going to list all the potential sins that you are guilty of, but I am going to say that NO HUMAN disqualifies themselves from committing sin other than JESUS CHRIST.
Jesus is as Colossians 1:15 says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” He came to restore the broken, shattered, and destroyed image of mankind. In Matthew 4, the devil influenced Jesus to invest His image and identity in death, but Jesus chose life. He knew His investment would reap the future harvest of humans who choose to believe and trust in Him.
What is the destiny of the one who trusts in Jesus?
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
Today you have a choice of which tree you’ll touch. Embrace the cross of Jesus Christ and have your image, identity and life be restored to God. Or be like Adam and Eve, trusting mere humanity under the influence of Satan, and die with a broken image and identity.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19 and 20
Now is your time to embrace the cross of Jesus Christ so your image is restored, redeemed, and reconciled unto the One who fashioned you after Him.
“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
Say this prayer out loud:
“Heavenly Father, I believe in my heart, Jesus Christ is your Son. I believe Jesus died for my sins. God, I’m sorry for all my sins and I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you raised Jesus from the dead and I say with my mouth Jesus is my Lord and Savior. Now I am saved, I have chosen life and I am Heaven bound. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.”
If you have said this prayer out loud and meant it in your heart, I want to hear from you! Subscribe to receive prayer, content and future blogs on Beauty For Ashes HOME page. In the comments write me about your decision to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior today.