In the earliest civilizations, people quickly discovered the intrigue of gold.
Kings used it for bartering power, and brides wore it to beautify themselves. Gold (supposedly) gave people their ultimate desires: power and beauty.
The demand for gold birthed the study of alchemy. I can picture wizened men hunched over balancing scales, adding lumps of rocks and grains of metals to their concoctions. With their primitive tools and flickering lamps, they studied the behavior of common substances, intent on finding the right combination that would turn into gold. Their process of study developed into the modern science of chemistry, but none of the bent and bearded scientists found a way to make gold. They had to return to the back-breaking work of digging and panning for gold dust.
Although the primitive chemists failed in their search, there is an Alchemist who specializes in turning common dirt and ugly stones into gold. In fact, it seems He spends most of His time in making valuable things out of cast-offs. Maybe His motto could be like the playful sign we found on a Dutch shop door: “We buy rubbish and sell antique.”
God is in the restoring, transforming business. He is the one who designed us, formed us women, and never gives up on us even when we’ve made a wreck of our hearts. He will take us and whatever we bring Him, fix it up, and make something new out of it.
I love to observe His methods. Notice how often He promises to transform things:
A crown of beauty instead of ashes. People in ancient times dusted their heads with ashes to display their grief. He promises a crown to replace your ashes of sadness.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?—especially after the deserts you’ve wandered.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Does it feel like you’ll never stop crying? Never be satisfied?
Remember the exchange He gave Abram? God had promised Abram and Sarah as many descendents as the stars. Finally, twenty-five aching years later, Sarah birthed Isaac. I can picture the cooing baby bouncing on his daddy’s lap. Abraham watched Isaac’s first tottering steps, and in the next quick years Isaac grew into a savvy young man able to survive in the desert.
This was the prize for those long, culturally-dishonorable years of infertility and brazen heavens. Finally, finally God was smiling on them.