Echoes of Ashes
by George Parler
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The land and sky were without horizon, as one with darkness. My feet beneath me seemed unsure in forbidding sands glazed with ashes. I felt a voice as thunder upon my chest, “See, hear, and understand.”
I saw a man running, exhausted, stumbling, and finally falling. From the thunder in the darkness above, a voice was heard.
“Long had he desired to be called a friend of the Lord. One in whom the Bridegroom trusted. Yet his sin had found him out. His heart betrayed him, refusing to lie before its own Creator. He dared to stand between a jealous Lord and His bride. Where are the voice and the talent of his deceit? They were the strength of his arrogance, but where are his allies now?”
I witnessed the fear in this wretched man before me. “Lord, in the crust of my heart I desired the affections of Your bride. As I spoke of You, I secretly desired her eyes would look upon me. I so yearned and courted her with my songs of You until I could feel the glance of her gaze at my bowing. Her eyes became as the choicest of wines, intoxicating to the shadows of my flesh. My talents swelled to hear Thank you from her lips. Not until I turned and saw the fire of contempt in Your eyes did my drunkenness sober. The friend had become Your rival for her affections. My instrument of worship is now sand through my fingers and is lost among the dunes of my despair.”
With the cry of a wounded animal he fled from His presence in fear. I watched as He ran to the edge of himself, where his wilderness and the abyss had sown their seam. With no fathomless hole sufficient and no stone for sackcloth, he fell again to the ash heap trembling, exposed, and found wanting.
The Spirit spoke with fire in His voice. “How should we deal with such a man as this?”
My indignation rose up within me, “He should be no more, my Lord. He should be beaten with a rod and Your wrath should consume Him because of this evil thing.”
“You have chosen well. Now be My servant and render the first part.” The Lord turned His fiery eyes to the man. “Let it be as You have spoken.”
I picked up the rod and stood over this fallen heap of a man. Raising the rod high above my head, I stood ready to strike the first of many blows . . . but I heard a sound. A woeful, yet familiar sound. The groans of his torment frightened me. My hands trembled above my head as the one who lay before me turned his hollow eyes to mine and uncovered the abyss of my nightmare. Screaming in agony, I stared down into my own face. “No! Lord, this cannot be!” With my fists covering my eyes I prayed to be awakened from this nightmare.
My eyes opened only to find I had taken my place in the ash heap. In shame and surrender, I now understood. I could no longer deny my sin as the evidence unveiled that I am that wretched man. I remembered the applause, the nod of approval, the pat on the back feeding the pride that would become my stumbling block. The life of the man I loathed was my own.
“I am guilty, Lord. I no longer have the strength to run and hide from Your voice. I hear You calling and tremble. I have betrayed my first love. I weigh heavy, filled with my emptiness. Exhausted, I melt to the earth. I hide my face in the ashes of my pride. Take Your axe to my roots, Lord. I am ashamed and undone. I am the shards of a vessel without honor; I am broken. Make me one with these ashes; scatter me by the four winds. I will be still and wait for my end.”
Hearing His steps inches from my face in the ashes. I exhaled one final time and waited for His vengeance. The thunder ceased. The wind stood still and silent.
In the silence, a whisper, “Sing to Me.”
I could not speak for my weeping.
The Lord breathed on me, “Sing to Me.”
Through drowning tears, “Lord, I am not worthy of that honor.”
“I know . . . but I am. Sing to Me.”
Groaning, “Lord, I am the stain upon the Ketobah between You and Your Beloved.”
Mercy touched my ears, “Uncover the amber coals from the ashes and kiss them; cleanse your lips. My beloved bride needs to hear your songs of Me, but she will look to the place where the eyes of your heart gaze. Look not unto her, not unto yourself, look only to Me. Sing to Me, and I will be the reflection in her eyes. Rise up My child, My servant, My friend . . . I have restored your instrument of worship from the sands. Let your words be My love songs to her, as you sing. . . Sing to me.”
I felt the tears running down my face as I opened my eyes. I stood upon the platform with my guitar in my hands. The eyes of the congregation fixed upon me, waiting. Waiting for my song to lead them into His presence. In fearful reverence my fingers trembled on the guitar, finding their way to the chord as His words echoed through my spirit, soul, and body: sing to Me.
I stood weeping, “Lord, forgive me.”
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George, this speaks volumes to me. I was part of a small worship team....I know whereof you speak. This is truly awesome. What a message!
This is very powerful, and your language is wonderfully and horribly vivid. Much to ponder.
'Waiting for my song to lead them into His presence.' This says it all ... even in our writings. I see only one sentence I would rephrase - but that's all - nothing else. Beautiful wisdom.
I like this. I had to go back and read again, once I understood who the man was. But, the scenario is rich with meaning and reminds me of the prophet Nathan telling King David, "You are the man."
George, I wanted to read this story and be perfectly honest with you. I braced myself, preparing myself to give gentle guidance. However, I found this piece to be very creative and, yes, it certainly did speak to me. I loved the phrase, "came to the edge of myself." I was a bit confused at first, but that surprise, when he looked into his own face, was a moment I won't soon forget. Frankly, I think this will stay with me for quite awhile. The only thing I could add is that I'd like the ending improved just a bit. It ended too suddenly. This is a very well done story, George....and that's the truth.