When you’ve walked through fire, what does it look like to sift through the ashes and faithfully wait for God to bring the beauty He promises? “Take These Ashes” explores broken relationships, grief, forgiveness, anger, trauma and how God’s redemption often looks different than what we pray or hope to see unfold. Episodes include personal conversations and the voices of experts to help guide you to healing through your own hard stories.
We all have stories of walking through fires… maybe small, maybe monumental. But materials that pass through the flame are inherently changed, including us. Whether your story includes loss, trauma, prolonged illness, or broken dreams, listen to Heather’s story for encouragement that:
Your pain is valid. You’re not alone in the fire (Isaiah 43:1-3). This pain and brokenness is part of the fuller arch of the Gospel, as we wait for restoration (Romans 8:22-28).
When we walk through challenging seasons, what happens to our faith? Our view of God?
In this episode, host Heather Lobe Johnson discusses these questions with writer and philosopher, Hilary Yancey. Hilary talks about the fires in her life, and how she wrestled through questions, doubts, and quiet prayers to the faith she has today.
Could it be that our fires are holy ground, where if we’re paying attention God can speak into our lives? In this episode, we enter into the story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3). Through this encounter with God, Moses was given insight into God’s character, a promise, and a directive.
Like Moses, our fires can be the things that draw us into God’s presence, where we begin to pay attention, where we learn more of who He is, or where we can even find a new calling for our lives. Listen through the end of the episode for personal reflection questions and application.
When we walk through “furnace seasons,” does God feel distant or present with us? Daniel 3 takes on an extra layer of meaning for young widow Danita Jenae, who has been sustained by Jesus’s presence through intense loss this year. Heather and Danita talk about the intense isolation of trials, how God comforts us when we walk through pain, and the importance of giving ourselves grace to rest in the exhaustion of grief.
When gold is refined, fire burns away its impurities. But when we’re in the fire, it sure feels like we ourselves are being burned. This episode is a conversation with guest Shannon Geurin, a woman whose story of a redeemed marriage points us back to God’s restorative work. Heather and Shannon discuss whether our heartaches and hardest events burn or refine our lives, and though their stories are different, they ultimately come to the same conclusion. They take another look at the passage in Daniel 3 about the fiery furnace, and how our fires can change our outlook on life.
In this broken world, we’re bound to feel the burn of broken relationships. KJ Ramsey, therapist and writer, joins Heather for a conversation about learning to feel safe in relationships after woundedness. Whether your hurt stems from family, church, a marriage, or friendship, unhealed wounds can affect your view of relationships with others and God. But through coregulation and interdependence (explained by KJ in this episode), we can take small steps to re-learn how to be in relationship with others and build resilience in ourselves. If you feel like relationships have only let you down, we pray this episode helps you sow a seed of courage to try building trust again.
There is power in processing our pain. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take space to process. And it’s going to require grace for yourself to take both that time and that space. When you’re just outside of the flames and you’re not sure how to begin sifting through the ash, you may wonder where to begin. In this place of transition, with embers still glowing and ash settling around us, let us process what’s been lost, grieve the things broken and torn apart, and then begin to rebuild, however long it takes.
Often times when we walk through great loss or change, we cannot go back to how life was before. So now here in the ashes, we must grieve, forgive, heal, and rebuild. I hope in sharing more of my story (a continuation here from Episode 1) and the stories of others, you will hear that healing is possible. Rebuilding is possible. And hope is possible again.
We don’t have to be perfect or get it all right when God calls us good. And that is freeing.
Wendi Nunnery and Heather Lobe Johnson discuss the process of surrender as we begin to heal from our fires and painful places. Wendi is the author of Good Enough: Letting Go of Perfect for the Sake of Holy, which releases this week with Paraclete Press. In this episode, we discuss:
- Mental Health (OCD, post-partum depression, and suicidal ideation)
- Finding freedom from perfectionism
- Surrender as letting go
- Learning to see God as tender and as El Roi, the God who sees
- Finding our iron sharpeners, or the safe people who can love us when we’re at our lowest and will help point us back to Jesus
*Note- this episode includes conversations around mental health and suicidal thoughts. Please listen with care for your own soul (and a mindfulness about those who might be listening with you).
Do you believe God is trustworthy? When we’ve been through broken relationships and pain in this world, sometimes it makes it hard to see God as good. When we see Him through our broken lenses or as the source of our pain, it can make it hard to trust Him.
If we’re going to surrender the most integral parts of ourselves, our prayer requests, our addictions, or our shattered hearts, we must trust that God is good to hold these things and provide for us. In this episode, Heather shares about her own re-learning of the Lord’s character through “Prayers of the People,” and stories in Scripture that point us back to God’s heart as trustworthy and faithful.
When we’re in the embers, do we run back to the fire, do we stay in the ash, or do we fully surrender to the healing process God has for us?
In this episode, Heather is joined by her husband Ryan who shares his story of how his addiction to prescription pain killers eventually brought Him to the Lord and sobriety. Heather and Ryan discuss the process of true surrender, the need for transparency when we’re struggling, and parallels in Scripture that remind us of how the Lord grows and redeem us through the hardest parts of our stories.
Resources in this episode:
- Teen Challenge Program
- Apologetic books/authors mentioned: The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Dr. Hugh Ross (Christian physicist), C.S. Lewis
- Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
- Exodus 6 (describing the way God sent Moses to the Promise Land), Hebrews 3:19 (“when all the unbelief dies”), Joshua 3 (Joshua and Caleb cross the Jordan), Joshua 4 (memorial stones), 1 Samuel 7:12 (Ebenezer stones)