5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

We can find far more than five unbeatable exchanges that nobody wants to miss — divine exchanges which bring immeasurable benefits. Today as I focus on these few (life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise) may we also discover the many other exchanges available to every believer.

Often things that once worked perfectly, begin to malfunction over time. Some companies even offer trade in discounts to exchange newer, upgraded products for older models. Usually, it’s a limited time offer to urge customers to purchase the latest, fastest, gadgets.

Our children, like everyone else’s, quickly grew out of their clothes as too much leg began to show beneath the hem of pants and tummies protruded from under shirt lines. Shoes also became too tight and developed holes. I smile as I remember how the new purchases seemed to make them stand taller and how they proudly showed off their new-found ability to run faster.

Purging closets and cupboards comes easier to me than loosening my grip on other things which I know I should get rid of — even when those things no longer serve a useful purpose.

An exchange means changes. With changes come challenges we would often rather avoid. But God offers everyone five unbeatable exchanges nobody wants to miss.

The Greatest Exchange

The most beautiful and powerful exchange comes when we surrender our old, temporary life for a new, eternal life in Christ. This divine exchange occurs not outside, but inside us — in the spirit — as we accept Christ’s payment for our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.

No one dares to claim full understanding of such an exchange. We only receive it by faith. Jesus did for us what we could never do — bridging the gap of separation between us and God and bringing us into relationship with Him.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Colossians 2:13

What a wonderful exchange … death for life … separation from God to being united with Him! Nothing compares to the freedom and joy found in this magnificent exchange.

 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

Labor for Peace

Although we are all unique, we each feel the weight of responsibilities and concerns. But Jesus welcomes us to exchange our burdens for His perfect peace and rest.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Another version puts it this way: “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Too often, life feels “heavy or ill-fitting.” These never come from God. Sickness, death, and pain were never God’s plan for us. But because we live in a fallen world, rampant with evil, we face trials. God stands with open arms, offering to carry the full weight for us. He teaches us His “unforced rhythms of grace” to walk through even the most difficult times.

Three Exchanges in One

Hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, Isaiah promised the unbeatable exchanges Jesus would one day bring.

“… 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 a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3

Will we sometimes feel like our lives have disintegrated into ashes scattered by the wind? Sadly, yes. Will we face the heaviness of grief and mourning? Undoubtedly. Will we experience seasons of hopelessness and despair? Perhaps.

However, as we draw near to Jesus He promises to bring beauty from the ashes. Even in the midst of mourning, He pours healing oil into our wounded hearts. And out of the dust of despair, He can and will bring forth songs of praise — not for the circumstances, but for His Presence bringing us through those circumstances.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. Twice in verse seven of the same chapter, Isaiah tells us that Jesus will give us “a double portion” for any trouble we have experienced as we choose to place our weakness into His strength.

Unbeatable Exchanges

Even as I write, I sense the heaviness of what some of you are experiencing today. So, I write with tears of compassion. I feel the heart of God welcoming you to His divine exchange, surrendering your loss for great and eternal gain.

Please join in this simple prayer, accepting His divine exchange.

Lord Jesus, I am tired and worn out — tired of pretending I’m strong and have life together. My heart hurts and my emotions feel as scrambled as my thoughts. I give you my broken life and welcome Your whole one. I long for an intimate relationship with You as my loving Father God. Take my sins and failures, Lord. I believe You died for me. I receive the unbeatable exchange of life and fellowship in Christ. The burdens and pressures have become too much for me to carry, Lord. So, I lay them at Your feet. Teach me the “unforced rhythms” of walking in Your grace. I give you the heaviness of my heart — the burned ashes of dead hopes, the mourning over lost dreams, and the heavy spirit of despair. Today, Lord, I receive Your unbeatable exchanges of life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise. Only You can transform my life into something that will ultimately bring You glory and praise. And in that transformation, I know You will give me life eternal and immeasurable good.
Amen.

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Kintsugi – The Beauty of Brokenness

Kintsugi - The beauty of brokenness

Kintsugi is a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Instead of attempting to hide brokenness, the lines become accentuated with gold celebrating the pottery’s history. The uniquely fashioned seams glint with gold, bringing beauty from brokenness.

I never realized how many “broken” possessions I value:

my grandfather’s wooden wagon wheel
my great-grandmother’s vase
a favorite pair of jeans
hockey sticks repurposed into garden stakes
a tire rim fire pit
a piece of beach glass art
even a Christmas tree topper.

None of them compare to the beautiful pieces of kintsugi; nonetheless, they are precious even in their brokenness.

I have come to realize lately that God is exposing and accentuating my brokenness. He is “kintsuging” me!

I would much prefer that my brokenness remain concealed, masked or hidden from public scrutiny. As a matter of fact, I try my best to do just that. I’m not alone! The cosmetic industry tops $62 billion annually – that is a lot of concealing imperfections and finding new beauty.

Cosmetics -

God recognizes beauty in us, just as we are. It isn’t just women who struggle to grasp this God perspective, we all do.

The Pain of Brokenness

Kintsugi recognizes breakage is part of the history of any object. How do we value and even embrace the beauty while living in the pain of brokenness?

Brokenness can seriously limit our ability to freely choose and presently live to our fullest potential. Pain has the ability to densely cloud our perception of personal identity, worth and purpose.

I can personally testify how the gold of God’s truth can infuse even the most crushing moments and reveal His design and glory in the midst of overbearing tragedy or loss.

“And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

The psalms simply say, “He sent his word, and healed them and snatching them from the door of death.” The truth of God’s word gently breathes life back into our shattered pieces. His truth sets us free to see brokenness from a higher and eternal vantage point.

At one time I had many delicate and beautiful ornaments; many were gifts. Then we had five sons! Few of these delicate pieces survived! I wish I would have known about kintsugi then.

Brokenness may scar us, but it will never diminish our value! As a matter of fact, after the Master Artist remakes us, we hold even greater distinction!

Scars of Beauty

In Kintsugi, scars become the most valuable and beautiful part of the whole.

I honour those who bear their scars well. Scars are the solid evidence of survival and over coming difficulties. They form the beautiful marks of an enduring life!

That Jesus would maintain His scars after the resurrection is a marvel to me. He didn’t need to! He chose to!

“Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe.”
John 20:27

The scars Jesus bears continue to prove His identity. Scars identify us too! They prove God’s faithfulness to heal and restore our brokenness.

The Beauty of Brokenness

Scars are the marks of our personal journey between birth and death. They are the road map of experiences we have lived through, conquered, and overcome leaving us better than before.

“You will either step forward
into growth, or you will step back
into safety.”
Maslow

In Guatemala, a man who had been healed of extremely large stomach cancers revealed his deep scars with pride. They were evidence to Christ’s healing power in his life. The physicians said, “You will die!” Christ spoke the contrary, “You will surely live!” Live is what this man was doing years later!

Graphed In

Sometimes in Kintsugi, a brand-new piece is graphed in.

do not consider yourself to be superior
to those other branches.
If you do, consider this:
You do not support the root,
but the root supports you.”
Romans 11:18

Sometimes Kintsugi is two individual pieces graphed together. They actually create a brand-new form, quite different from the original – a delicate and unique work of art.

God has specifically designed each of us to bear both similarities and differences to every other person. Kintsugi reminds me of this truth.

When I hear of the God-stories of others, I am hushed in amazement knowing only God could create such beauty out from horrendous brokenness:

a baby given a name meaning “you shall die”
becomes a light-bearing torch of hope to nations;
a woman poisoned, beaten and left in the bush –
now speechless but speaking life to many other broken;
a young girl abandoned and severely abused
teaching and loving children to life;
refugees escaping, then returning, home to spread the Gospel of Peace;
drug addicts ministering in rehab centers;
former prostitutes delivering hope to the streets
they once walked….

These new lives  bear no resemblance to the old!

Beauty of Brokenness

When hope shatters against the cruel pavement of life, beauty seems impossible to visualize. Impossible that is until The Master, takes each broken piece in His gentle hands and creates a new and beautiful masterpiece.

So I went down to the potter’s house,
and I saw him working at the wheel.

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot,
shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Jeremiah 18: 3-4

No matter how marred and broken, God reforms, reshapes and repurposes our lives. As a matter of fact, when He is finished the result appears so perfect, we wonder if this wasn’t His “Plan A” all along.

God is never the one who breaks or harms us. We have an enemy who is bent on stealing, killing, and destroying any worth or value we possess. God is THE Ultimate Restorer!

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost;
he’ll have compassion on you;
he’ll come back and pick up the pieces
from all the places where you were scattered.”
Deuteronomy 30:3 

Kintsugi is both a beautiful art form and a fitting illustration of God’s compassionate working in each of our lives. Every place of brokenness is a gold vein of God’s love and mercy. It shouts to all, “God is faithful!”

So, the next time we meet, ask, and I just might let you see my scars.

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Further Reading

Gold and Silver – Refined Through Suffering

Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

Beauty for Ashes

“Instead of” are powerful words repeated throughout scripture. As we end one year and prepare to enter a new one, may the truth of these words resonate.

  “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 a spirit of despair…
Isaiah 61:3

As Jesus began his earthly ministry, He read from the scroll previewing this portion. Then he sat down and declared these incredible words,

 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21

Today

From that day on everything changed! The waves may still roll, but Christ is present! He is with us!

God is willing and able to grant an excellent exchange for whatever burden we are carrying.

Shame, disgrace, humiliation
foolish mistakes, failures, or fear,
death of dreams, hopes
or a loved one….

Instead Of

His presence guarantees not only comfort and provision in the midst of struggle, but much more:

  “beauty instead of ashes,
joy instead of mourning,
praise instead of a spirit of despair…

Even a child recognizes a good trade when they see one! However, there is one condition! God is asking us to give Him our ashes, mourning and despair. Are we willing to let them go?

Broken

When I yielded my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I had only brokenness to offer Him. My track record had produced failure and disappointment in multiplied measure. Suicidal thoughts and depression had left me a broken shell, without hope.

But Christ came! Everything changed —some pieces radically and instantly, others slowly and progressively.

He continues to invite me to yield to Him things He never intends me to carry. His offer to replace them with something incredible still stands.

Wasteland to Beauty

Thorn bushes are rough and dangerous; their pointed barbs sink deep. Jesus bore such a painful crown pressed firmly in His brow.

Thorns

Applauded one hour and disdained the next, His beauty and deity were unrecognizable to most earthly eyes.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign…
Isaiah 55:13

Junipers in the Middle East are tall willowy bushes growing in desert places. Travelers often find shelter under their bending boughs. The myrtle bares intensely aromatic white blossoms delicately edged in the colour of royalty, purple.

Myrtle

Jesus surrendered His true Kingship and bore the crown of thorns. In so doing, he now gives us ability to be overcomers in our thoughts. He grants us peace instead of the harsh reruns that plague our minds with

words cruelly spoken,
images that cut through innocence,
or paralyzing pain of loss.

Jesus traded an authentic crown for a mocking one. Today, he invites us to exchange every unnecessary weight for the authentic beauty He offers. It is a good trade!

Garbage Can

A few months ago, a friend was struggling to personally receive God’s “instead of.” All her short life, she had been juggled from house to house – unwanted and undervalued.

We set a garbage can in the middle of the room and began to toss crumpled bits of paper into it. Each piece represented an image, thought or message that had been embedded into her belief system shaping how she now saw herself.  When the mark was missed, we walked over and picked up the wad of paper and made sure it landed deep into the metal bucket.

Garbage

I had several wads of my own to toss!

Once tossed, we gave each painful wound into the hands of the only One who can fully erase their weight.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving!

It is not just our stuff that God is perfectly able to trade. God wants to release us from everything anyone else has done against us. God’s “instead of” applies equally to both!

Eternal Glory

God is a master of transformation – a divine recycling! Out with the old and in with the new!

Though once my mind was racked with dark thoughts of death, now I help others find the light of hope. This is not unusual! God delights in taking what was once our greatest infliction and turning it into a powerful tool of redemption.

Those once bound by chains of chemical addiction now show others the way through the tangle to beautifully fulfilled lives. People once tormented in a variety of ways now lead others into places of health and wholeness. As a matter of fact, your place of greatest struggle is probably the very area God has destined to use you to bring freedom for others and glory to Him.

“For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

We cannot always fully see what God is working out. His “instead of” is always greater and better than the troubles we are trading in.

Whatever we are going through is working! It is working for His glory! It is working the best in us and for us! God will receive the glory and renown He is worthy of, as we are willing to exchange what we are holding on to.

Before this year ends, trade it in! I am excited to see what new thing God has for each of us through Christ!

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Additional Resources!

Another read: Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!