Isaiah 61:3 “...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.”
Here’s my ashes. I receive a crown of beauty. A Great Exchange.
Here’s my mourning. IS there a verbal
descriptive for mourning? Personal experience has yielded a grief so deep that
the word to describe it doesn’t actually exist in the dictionary. There is no
such word. Even so, there is a Great Exchange promised for mourning. I receive the oil of joy to replace the indescribable
mourning. Visual descriptions yield value and explanation when my mind wrestles
to take hold of what is promised. I use language to process and visualize as an
exercise to entrench these truths deep within. It’s heart language.
The oil of joy in exchange for my mourning. Could there be a
larger chasm between emotions? With joy, my heart leaps. With mourning, my
heart is crushed. I picture an enormous gouge to my heart with an irregular
Speaking of using descriptive language to communicate the
condition of the heart......
The death of a beloved is an amputation. -C. S. Lewis
One language description further. An amputation without
That’s what makes this promised exchange so magnificent.
That’s the GREAT EXCHANGE. A gouging wound to the heart exchanged for joy?
Almost the extravagance of fairy tales. Yet, Lord, Your Word is Truth (John
Is this joy deep belly laughter? The kind that makes your
side hurt? Is it a smile that stretches the width of your face? The broadest
smile ever? Though belly laughs and laughter producing side aches can randomly
represent my ongoing healing, My GREAT EXCHANGE of joy is represented by the
Peace of His Presence. Christ in Me. The Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27). This joy rises above by unchangeable earthly
I am still in need of being a recipient of a further
exchange. Here’s my despair. Yes, the very thing that rendered me both hopeless
and helpless. The Great Exchange? I receive a garment of praise in exchange for
Sound too good to be true? It’s a familiar saying.... if it
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
That is, unless, the Person making the exchange is holy and
righteous in every essence of His nature. Unless that Person, is Jesus. He authored and made The Greatest Exchange
ever. His exchange was of the greatest value that has ever been demonstrated.
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our
transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought
us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
My sin for His righteousness. The Greatest Exchange.
Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul
rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and
arrayed me in a robe of righteousness...”.
My filthy rags for a robe of righteousness. The Greatest
Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is
unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;...”
My mind still needs to work through an exchange so undeserved.
Oh, but my mind begins to unravel one more descriptive visual. I picture myself covered by a garment. But it’s mostly ashen
in color. Worn. It doesn’t fit my frame, but rather hangs in such as way as to
distort my actual image. It’s torn. It has a weariness that communicates. That’s the garment that I get to exchange?
Now, I picture myself placing a robe upon my physical frame.
A robe is my new garment! I slip one arm in the robe. Barely able to believe a
goodness that would permit this very activity. Then I slip my other arm in the
robe. It’s plush, warm, and just the right color scheme for my skin tone. Best
of all. It fits me perfect. It was designed for me by my Merciful Creator. He
had me in mind in its structure down to every stitch and inch of fabric. This
garment not only covers me. It penetrates beyond the external, and penetrates
to my spirit. It speaks a language of mercy.
It’s the ability of the Holy Spirit, Christ in me, to daily receive
such an extravagant exchange.
The Greatest Exchange ever, my sin for His righteousness,
allows me to trust the promised exchanges of ashes for a crown of beauty, the
oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise for despair.
Ashes. Mourning. Despair.
A Crown of Beauty. The Oil of Joy. A Garment of Praise.
Beautiful transactions. Sealed, secured and authenticated by
the One that demonstrated the Greatest Exchange in history.