Ashes

The death of a dream always means the birth of a new promise. It is hardest to believe when walking through the ashes of what you thought would be your future. Wading through shallow shattered hopes can almost drown you in waves of sadness. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

When those hopes are our hopes.

Before the way of faith was made available to us, we were placed under guard by the Law…. It was our guardian until Christ came. The law. The dreaded law. Yet, it was our protector for some time. It was what kept our depravity at bay. It was our foster parent until our Father adopted us. It was our lawyer until the Judge came. It was our thermometer until the Healer arrived. It was the bank we measured our eternal rewards by until we gained our inheritance. It was the way we got our identity until Christ BECAME our identity. We were like the rich young ruler, craving perfection in law-keeping but lacking so much knowledge in life-gaining.

They were told that Jesus would come, to believe that one day He would be sent. But I know there were times that Abraham wondered when. When Moses wondered how. When even the man who was born to prepare the way for Christ wondered from a jail cell if He was truly the One the prophecies referred to. When the disciples wondered as they fled during Christ’s death if they had somehow missed the boat and this guy wasn’t really the One Who would crush Rome and save them from oppression.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. When those hopes are our hopes.

I have a new appreciation for it, this law. In an odd sense, it was my chaperone until I married the chaperone. Now, with the Judge Himself granting me grace, I no longer have to live in fear of the consequences of the law. He has freed me from its wages. This does not mean I am no longer bound to any rules, simply that the rules changed. I now do time, not because it is my sentence, but because it shows the immensity of my gratitude.

The death of the law made way for the promise of life. Without the law, what promise would we have? The dark backdrop of the law was illuminated by the brightness of the Child of Promise who ushered in grace. Without the darkness, we would perhaps never realize the magnitude of our salvation. We would take for granted that we were roaming free without chains. But when Jesus breaks the padlock and we leave our shackles behind?

We never forget the beauty of that moment. It is a defining moment.

Just like the moment of “I do”. The moment of the baby’s first cry. The moment of the body-dunking in baptism. These moments stand etched on our memories and are reminders of who we are and where we come from.

And where we are going.

Those moments of despair? The moments of “no” or “not yet”s? The moment the doctor gives the diagnosis? The moment the casket closes? The moment the baby’s heart stops beating? The day they walked out? Or you did?

The day our hopes die?

He scoops up the ashes and wipes the tears. He takes us by the hand, leads us away from that pile of hopes crushed and broken dreams, points to the cross and says, “This is better than what you wanted. Just wait and see.”

And I beg you, through the tears, to believe the promise. To trade your hopes for the faith to believe that His hopes are better. I’ve heard it said that if your situation isn’t good yet, then He isn’t done with it. This is not a prosperity gospel. It is the promised Gospel.  God works all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

The death of the law brought the promise of grace. And although it is challenging to sever the attachment, no greater freedom has been found.

With every death comes life. We bring our broken dreams to the cross and He trades them for more… than we could ask or think. Life abundant.

Life abundantly more than you thought it could be.

When our hopes are no longer ours but every bit His…. Then we can be sure they will come to fruition.

And that’s a promise you can bank on.