It’s enough to make a woman give up traveling.
A month ago, during a much-anticipated trip to Nashville, TN, to spend the weekend with our four sons, I wound up languishing for 24 hours in a hospital with cardiac issues.
Fast-forward to last week’s long-awaited trip to Chicago for the Moody Bible College Founders Week –– where I gracefully tripped down the steps of the shuttle bus and landed in an ambulance headed to a local hospital. The arm that got tangled in a railing during my descent was fortunately not broken or dislocated, though it dangled weakly at my side for the next 24 hours.
In between those two trips, my husband and I journeyed five hours one-way to gather up some furniture our oldest son won’t be needing for a couple of months so that we can store it at our farm. On the way home, full with emotion over our son’s circumstances and my recent brush with mortality (“You only have one heart” were words the doctor used to convince me to be admitted and monitored under protest), I had a meltdown.
A pity party in the cab of a pick-up truck is not a pretty site.
Like I said, maybe this woman shouldn’t travel.
On the back side of those three incidents, I prayed for a way to make sense of it all. Then I heard these words from author and blogger Ann Voskamp at Moody Bible College, the morning after I fell out of the bus:
“Ashes are the best soil for life. Do not be afraid of ashes.”
The hospital visits, the son who’s picking up the pieces from a failed marriage, the dear friend who’s living with a debilitating disease, my own perceived failures as a wife and mother.
Ashes. All of it.
When life is aflame with hard things, when hopes and dreams and plans crumble before our eyes, we find ourselves sifting through ashes. Voskamp pointed out in her talk at Moody, ashes add nutrients to soil, promoting growth.
I’ve got some growing to do. Don’t we all? What if my handful of ashes can actually help me grow stronger and wiser? What if, in the ash heap, I send down deeper roots and pull myself up to dig deeper into God’s word for sense and sustenance.
Life is going to bring hard things. It just is. We’ll probably always find we are “less than” when our circumstances call for “more than.”
God’s economy means the hard things in our lives aren’t wasted. They are redeemed by Him, the Master Redeemer, the One who gives ashes the power to bring new life.
We can’t stop living just because we take a tumble, or because of a new diagnosis or a loved one’s heartache. Fear shouldn’t cause us to quit loving and caring and opening our arms. Or traveling to places where maybe hard stuff waits. Because there are no guarantees that it will all be easy, or that things will go the way we want.
The only guarantee is that God will be with us in the hard stuff. And, He makes beauty from ashes.