March 16th, 2010
Did you know that the ashes of metal magnesium are heavier than magnesium itself? Hmmm. That’s one of those “fun” facts that requires a solemn guttural clearing of the throat and an awkwardly stone-faced response that simultaneously communicates you already knew said fact and that you think it not odd at all that you would know it. Magnesium . . . well of course I knew that! What sort of uneducated fool wouldn’t know that? Umm, waiter? Check please!
Relax, my fine friend! There’s no judgment here. I only state the fact to reflect upon what can happen when things within us decay or decompose. Ours is a culture of closure . . . or at least recompartmentalization. In other words, that which has either wounded us or threatens to wound us needs to be ignored with the hopes that it will disappear like a proverbial rabbit in a hat. If we can just get a few days or months down the road, then we think things will get better naturally.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Oh yeah, you can bury it or tuck it away in the closet for a while . . . maybe even for years. However, pain and unforgiveness are a lot like “magnesium” . . . their ashes sometimes weigh more than their initial issues. As a pastor, I encounter it almost daily. Especially when family or father issues are involved, you can bet that if left to hopefully decay away into nothingness, in the long run those ashes will do as much or more damage than the original problem.
The answer? Don’t just wait and hope. Action must be taken if we are to avoid the heaviness of ashes in our lives. For myself, I encountered this recently when I knew I had blown it in a certain situation. At first, I was tempted to just hope things would get better . . . that’s a lot like staring at your online bank account balance and just hoping that money will magically appear there.
I was reminded of Jesus’ words: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24 NLT) In my case, I found mercy from those whom I needed it the most .
I’m not that holy; I’m just not very fond of ashes . . . or of chemistry in general for that matter. What I am fond of is God’s forgiveness in my own life . . . an amazing chemical composition that still transforms me today and still redeems my ongoing lab explosions.
Maybe that’s what He meant when He said that He would produce beauty from ashes.