By Lauren Clark
I know at 36 I’m probably too old to shop there anymore, but I still love Forever 21. I can buy so much for so little. When I check out, my full yellow bags with John 3:16 imprinted on the bottom make me feel as though I won the jackpot.
But there’s one downfall to shopping at Forever 21. It’s impossible to return or exchange items. You have to be willing to say the dress, shirt, shoes, or whatever you bought is perfect for you prior to checking out or you might encounter the wrath of the cashiers. They specifically tell you each time as you are paying, “Do you know our return/exchange policy?” They put the responsibility on us. We better know what we’re getting into when we buy our inexpensively priced, fashionable clothing, because there will be no return or exchange at a later date. All sales are final. No returns. No exchanges. You are stuck with the purchase no matter what.
Isn’t it good to know our Savior has a different policy?
In Isaiah 61:3 (AMPC) we read, “Beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
In the natural realm, we have been taught that when you sow cucumber seeds, you reap cucumbers. And when you plant apple seeds, you reap apples. (Unless you are like me. When I plant, nothing happens. I have the worst green thumb ever.) It’s an even exchange.
But our God is the God of the supernatural harvest. We don’t always reap what we plant or deserve because we serve a gracious God who exchanged his only Son’s life for the forgiveness of our sins. That was not an even exchange. God didn’t get cucumbers for cucumbers or apples for apples. The exchange was life for death. “How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG).
According to Isaiah 61, we plant sorrow but God gives us joy. The harvest changes because the seed was changed on the cross. Forgiveness is the “harvest” we don’t deserve.
The end of verse 3 in Isaiah 61 refers to, “the planting of the Lord” (AMPC). When we are planted by the Lord, the result of the harvest changes.
He is the God of NEW beginnings.
He is the God of SECOND chances.
If he can turn ashes into beauty, he can take grief and turn it into healing.
If he can turn mourning into joy, he can take a broken heart and mend it.
If he can turn a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit into praise, he can take broken relationships and bring wholeness and restoration.
Do you need to exchange something in your life for God’s harvest? If so, I encourage you to give whatever it is to him today. Give him your broken heart, sorrows, and pain. Then watch as he changes the outcome of your harvest.
Lauren Clark lives in Dallas, Texas, where she moved 5 years ago to be closer to family and help plant a church (Shoreline Dallas). She has been married to Sean Clark for over seven years and they have six dogs and one horse. Lauren’s passion is sharing God’s love for us through personal stories while relating them to practical biblical truths that bring life, love, freedom, and encouragement to every area of our lives. Read more from Lauren at LaurenJoyClark.com.
Photograph © Joachim Jauker, used with permission