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Rising to New Life

A Commentary by Constance Vanides

"Ash from a wildfire that scorched 34,000 acres outside Yosemite National Park is providing nutrients for native wildflowers to bloom this spring." This simple newspaper statement caught my eye. I would be filled with marvel should I be able to view such a sight. Yet it is with equal delight that the Holy Spirit reminds us of a comparable Spiritual truth, hidden within the treasury of God's word, the Bible.

Where do we read, " for ashes" ? Does it sound familiar?

The same prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament cried out, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5) also tells us we are given " for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." (Isaiah 61:3)

The "beauty" or "fruit" with joy is promised to us out of the "ashes" of our dying to our selves, not a physical death, but rather willingness on our part to allow God to lead us, thus putting to "death" our own self-desires. What a paradox! It's only when we die to ourselves, our self-nature, can we then "rise" to new life in Jesus Christ!

Back to Yosemite. What a vibrant sight to behold--those seeds once burned in fire, now released and carpeting the Merced River Canyon with newness of life in all its wondrous beauty!

So it is with our lives. Jesus tells us, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor." (John 12:24-26)

What a wonder to die to self that we may live eternal life with the Lord, beginning now, at this very moment, that we may delight to ultimately be with Him and all the saints, and honored by the Father, all in His glorious light! He is risen indeed!

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© Constance Vanides