photos and words by June Friesen
Lamentations 3:19-33 (The Message)
IT’S A GOOD THING TO HOPE FOR HELP FROM GOD
19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself.
Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer.
Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble.
Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely,
he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!
These verses are so, so, so packed with God!
BUT FIRST LET ME SHARE THE LAMENT I HEAR THEN, AND EVEN NOW IN MY OWN SPIRIT TODAY…..
Desperation! Anxiety! Hopelessness! Emptiness!
Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!
How can there be any more ugliness, hurt, violence, unanswered evil power?
How can there be any more disregard of life –
It should not matter where one lives – the world is God’s –
He created it for the habitation of all of creation –
Yet, it seems that some allow greed and power to dictate saying–
“Not only what is mine is mine but –
If I want what is yours, or what you think/claim is yours
Well let me tell you I have a right to it as well,”
And if you choose not to give it over readily –
Well, I will just have to take it from you –
And if you decide to try and dispute me –
Well, I will just eradicate you from the place
And maybe even eradicate you from the planet as well.
God, how can this be?
How can humanity whom You created in such perfection
Now be so void of anything that is of You –
So empty of love –
So compassionless –
So rude and sometimes ruthless –
God, there are ruins –
Ruins not only of things –
Ruins not only of nature –
But ruins of humanity –
Some lives become ruined in physical death –
Some lives become ruined in physical health –
Some lives become ruined in physical ability –
Some lives become ruined in physical means –
It is impossible to continue to sustain life – or at least life as it once was.
Some lands are ruined by the ravages of wars being fought –
Some lands are ruined by the ravages of natural disasters –
Some lands are ruined by lack of proper care as You planned humanity to do –
Some lands just lay in ruins because of fear of being seen trying to continue to live.
Some waters have wasted away because of drought –
Some waters are unpalatable due to contamination of many kinds –
It may be human-caused or it may be environmental caused –
It may be because of droughts –
It may be caused by selfishness and inconsideration or lack of education.
God, I pause –
I have to wonder –
I begin to feel that somehow Your heart is broken –
To see the mound of ashes that humanity has created of Your perfect gift in the beginning – THE GARDEN OF EDEN!
Yes, Ashes –
Ashes are all that I have to offer You today –
The ashes of the world that I live in –
The ashes that I have created during my life, in my life,
The ashes I have created of the world around me –
In nature, creation as well as in the lives of others –
Oh God, what a big pile of ashes this is beginning to be
As I ponder the things that I desire to give to You
The things that are in need of new beginnings –
Possibly for me as well as others too.
I give to You O God my careless thinking when gardening and using of the plants so selfishly,
Not thinking of the residue that I maybe was creating or stealing without replacing for another to use,
I give to You for the times I allowed things to die or rot without offering them to another,
God, please forgive me even now as I often buy and even use without a grateful heart
The resources to sustain my life when others are without.
I give to You my careless actions when I am preparing things for use
By myself or maybe even for others –
How many times I toss parts away that could actually be used another day or another way,
Or the times I neglect someone who but needs a drink of water, a bite to eat, or the warmth of a caring touch,
Or the times I ignore the prompting in my spirit coming from You –
Urging me to look into the eyes that are just longing to be acknowledged as being.
Yes, ashes Lord –
My actions, attitude, words or even the absence thereof
Have accumulated a pile of rubble and ash –
Sadly, not only in my own life –
But also, how often have I contributed to the ashes of another person’s life?
But what is before me now God?
There is a crossroads before me –
And on the one side You are beckoning me to come –
Not only to come but You are inviting me to surrender to You –
All the ashes I have managed to accumulate over time –
I hesitate – You are patient –
I falter – You reach out to steady me –
I look into Your eyes – I see love –
I look down at my being – You raise my chin to gaze upon You –
I try to speak – but the words seem so empty – You wait –
I reach down into my spirit – hesitantly –
I look up to see Your hands outstretched –
I look down into my spirit again – pondering – should I let go –
I look up again and this time I notice the scars on Your hands –
From Your hands my eyes rise to Your eyes –
I notice a tear – forming in Your eyes –
And now one escapes and rolls down Your cheek –
I look back down into my spirit –
Wondering what You could possibly do with the mess of ashes I am holding right now?
And then –
In weeping I fall at Your feet –
Pouring out the ashes that I have hoarded so long –
I dump, and I empty, and wonder when will I get done –
Even thinking, “What will I do with all this emptiness inside of me now?”
I pause – I hear my name –
“Thank you, my child, for giving me all these ashes today,
I am going to now begin the process of filling you with my beauty,
I see that you now have allowed Your love for me to be alive in you,
This love will consist of love for yourself as I have made you,
It will also bring to growth my love for others around you and that you will meet,
I will begin a new process of healing your woundedness
No matter is old, new, or wounds that you will yet experience;
I will begin to birth in you My Love –
My love for yourself as well as others –
I will begin to birth in you My forgiveness –
My forgiveness for yourself as well as for others –
I will begin to birth in you My healing –
My healing for all your wounds from others as well as your own self-wounding,
And then a healing you can extend to others you meet along the way.
There may be more ashes along the way that you will find,
But please remember that I am with you always –
And if you just pass those ashes to me –
Oh I will make beautiful things of them as well.
I love you my dear child……
Thank you for giving your ashes to me –
I love you my dear child…..
Your ashes will soon be:
Son – inspired –
Helpful to many –
Extravagantly a blessing –
Showing My Presence to others. Amen
Join Christine Sine, Tom Sine, and others for Inhabit 2022 on April 29-30th in Seattle- a live conference by Parish Collective. Explore stories of hope and be encouraged to be the church in your neighborhood. You are not alone – the everyday realities are carried by us all. Click here for more info!