Ashes to Ashes

I had to take a break from work, and go for a drive to clear my head a moment ago.. I found myself parked in the lot of the Mt. Rose Community Church, with my radio on full blast, praising God! It was amazing! Such a small, but pivotal moment!

I think we often forget the power that praise has in our lives. It releases us from fear, worry, stress, doubt, fear, pain, confusion, wrongdoing, and even from ourselves!

As I sat there in my car, singing to Him, “Take it all, take it all away! Magnify no other name! Open up, open up my eyes to YOU!” my entire body began to tremble! I was free to cry, to cry out to Him, to let everything go and just be! I can just be His! I sang about how I belong to my God, and He renewed me! It was such a comforting feeling!

The words of the music became my own words, my own cry to Him! “So come and empty me, so that it’s YOU I breathe! I want my life to be ONLY Christ in me! So I will fix my eyes, ’cause YOU’RE my source of life! I need the world to see, that it’s Christ in me!”

I sang out to Him, from the very depths of my heart, and my break ended up being longer than it should have because I just lost all track of time! How marvelous is that??

We spend so much of our day worrying about time that we often forget to stop and just be. Even at church we set a limit of time and restrict our worship and praise, our seeking of Him to a mere hour; two if we’re feeling adventurous. Sitting in that vehicle, though, and just letting Him wash over me I realized that time became irrelevant. It simply didn’t matter, and I was not bound to it; I was bound completely, wholly, irreversibly to my God! I AM bound to Him, permanently!

I am reminded, as I write about this experience that I had, of the scriptures in (ROMANS 8:38-39) which say that “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I am eternally bound to my God, my Father in heaven, my Redeemer, my Friend and my Comforter, and as I sat there singing praises to Him I was covered with peace! I can walk each day of my life knowing that as long as I am faithful, and obedient, He will not let me fall!

The whole of my body trembled, as I cried the hardest that I ever cried in my life, and just let myself be overwhelmed with the love and the presence of my God! The pain, fear, confusion, and anxiety that I was feeling just moments before melted away and I was caught up in Him!

It was a beautiful, and terrifying experience! Not terrifying in the sense that I was afraid of it, but that I was terrified because I had not done this in so long and I did not want it to end! It is a beautiful thing to feel the presence of God! It is a wonderful, awe inspiring, and peaceful thing to be overwhelmed by Him! I stopped singing, only for a couple of seconds, when I realized that the tears I was crying were tears of absolute, undeniable joy!

I used to feel that so much more, but I have let the worries of the world get in the way of the two most important things that I have in my life! I had forgotten what it felt like to just be; to forget about everything else and just exist in a moment of complete devotion and dependence that can not only clean us through and through, but ultimately restores us!

I cry that out “I AM RESTORED! God, thank You! Thank You so much for being my restoration!”

He doesn’t ask us for much, we make it seem like it’s much but it isn’t. To sacrifice ourselves and take Him in, to be utterly devoid of “me” and irrevocably filled the power and the presence, the grace and mercy, the hope that is in Jesus Christ is a fascinating thing! It is not “myself” that lives, but Christ Who lives in me; like Paul said to the Galatians “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (GALATIANS 2:20)

I have asked the Lord more times than I count what “the joy of the Lord is my strength” really means, but I don’t have to ask anymore! I know EXACTLY what it means now! The joy that we feel when we do give ourselves entirely to Him and let Him overwhelm us with His goodness gives us strength no matter what we are facing or feeling! He renews us in every circumstance, comforts us in every pain, heals every wound, mends every broken heart, and satisfies every need! The joy of the Lord is that no matter what I am going through, whether good or bad, He sustains and nourishes me!

sus·tain                                                                                     nour·ish
səˈstān/                                                                                    ˈnəriSH/
verb                                                                                                    verb
3rd person present: sustains                                           3rd person present: nourishes
1. strengthen or support physically or mentally.            1. provide with the food or other                                                                                                                      substances necessary for growth,                                                                                                                health, and good condition.
                                                                                                     2. keep (a feeling or belief) in one’s                                                                                                                  mind, typically for a long time.

He fills me with His power and with His presence, not just some of the time, but all of the time! He is constantly strengthening and supporting me, providing me with what I need to remain in a good condition, and always reminds me of that by remaining with me in everything that I do!

Even those definitions should taken with more consideration and preponderance than they are! It is something so incredible that the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things; He Who was, and is, and is to come looks after me with nurturing care and tender affection! He takes care of me the way that Father would his child, and He makes sure that all of my needs are met! He fights for me, and defends me! He is a terrible flame that purges everything that is not of Him from within me, and the living water that restores me! That is SO satisfying to understand; not just to believe it, but to live it!

I find it hard to express exactly how incredible that moment was! How time and this world meant nothing, and His presence meant everything! If every moment of our lives were lived like that, imagine what we could accomplish! We would love more fully, live more righteously, hope more intensely, care more freely, and we would be exactly what He wants us to be and experience what He has in store for us! We would know what it means to truly do for others, without condition or expectation of anything in return! We would feel only joy and peace, and not pain or suffering! We would take better care of what matters the most to us, of who matters the most to us!

So I ask myself, “what am I going to do?  Which steps should I take? Will I take the right steps?” and the answer is clearer than it ever has been!! I will “choose this day” who I am going to serve, and it is Him! It is not me, or my wants, not anyone or anything else because it is not me who lives but Christ Who lives in me!

I will wake up every day and get lost in Him! I will take every breath as though I am breathing it for my God! I will live my life as though it is no longer mine! This is it, this is the end; I am dead, Joshua Randall Onstott has sacrificed himself; I have died, and He is alive in me!

This is day one, a new day! It is not yesterday and the things of yesterday are behind us! Look to Him! Set your eyes and your heart on the God Who washes you clean! Take Him in, every moment of every day, and let Him be the joy of your life!

By His Holy Spirit in us we cry out “ABBA! FATHER!” You alone are worthy of my praise! You alone have given me worth, and You alone sustain me! Wake up every day with that in your heart, and be overwhelmed with His presence! Never stop letting Him fill you! It is so amazing, so perfect and peaceful! The flesh will fade, but He is eternal! We will surely fall apart in the end, but it is Him Who holds us together! Ashes will return to ashes, and dust will return to dust, but those who trust in the Lord will remain forever!

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