In HOPE 7.19                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

For some people, the ashes in their lives come from family experiences. A book that may be helpful and healing is Secrets of Your Family Tree: Healing for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families  (Moody Press, 1991:298 pages). The book offers insightful essays by 5 different authors, including John Townsend and Henry Cloud.

Hope Happenings

Beginning in the Fall, Pacific Christian College (the under-graduate school of the University) will introduce a new major to the academic catalog. Crosscultural Business Administration (CBA), is a 127-unit Bachelor of Arts degree for students seeking a program that blends intercultural studies with business.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"Shalom is a wholeness and peace found in our weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid."  -- Henri Nouwen

After the Ashes

Sidney Poitier writes in his biographical memoir:

In some African tribes the young boys must cover their faces with ashes before their initiation into manhood. In certain Nordic cultures the young boys used to sit down in the ashes by the fire in the center of the lodge house until they were ready to take on their adult role. And everybody knows about Cinderella, the girl who had to tend to cinders and do all the lowly chores until her true identity became known.

Historically, ashes have symbolized seasons of serious trial.

Tamar covered herself with ash after she was raped by her brother Amnon (2 Samuel 3:19). Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when King Ahasuerus issued a genocidal decree against the Jews (Esther 4:1-3). Job sat down among ashes when his wealth was destroyed and his sons were all killed (Job 2:8). The King of Nineveh sat in ashes when he realized the wickedness of his city (Jonah 3:6).

We've all experienced times of ashes, and the Psalmist speaks for each of us when he writes: "I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping" (Psalm 102:9). Perhaps you find yourself "eating ashes" right now.

The ashes are all that remain after the fire.

We start with so much and finish with seemingly nothing. Yet, this burning and purging need not be the end. Just as God took the dust of the earth and created life the first time, so He continues to take ashes and create new life. Indeed, the fire (like the Cross) becomes a necessity in our journey towards Christ.

The ashes may come from abandonment or abuse, from alcoholism or addiction, from sickness or sin, from death or divorce. Whatever their source, Christ can turn them into something new. Out of the ashes, by God's grace, life emerges.

Jesus opened the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and declared:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me,
To bring good news to the afflicted ...
To comfort all who mourn ...
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

The Cross gives way to resurrection. Our ashes become oaks.



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.