Ashes Into Beauty

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness 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 61:1-3

Last night, I was listening to a teaching which, among other things, mentioned that God often tests us to determine whether we are able to go on in a ministry for Him.  As I was listening, I became somewhat disturbed by the idea that if we “failed” a test, we were doomed to never become all that God wants us to become, or do all God wants us to do.  This morning, God took me on a trip down the memory lane of my own past and I saw clearly some of the mistakes I’d made – some of the “tests” I’d failed, and God’s patience and lovingkindness in teaching me and working me through those things.  And for the first time, I had compassion for some of the men and women of faith who have left ruined lives and ministries in the wake of their mistakes.

Specifically, I thought of Todd Bentley who at one time had a powerful healing ministry but then left his wife for his assistant and experienced an understandable and overwhelming backlash from the Christian community.

For a long time, I didn’t want to hear anything Todd Bentley had to say and to be honest, I was angry at the attempts of some of the Godly men I look up to and respect who were working toward restoring his ministry. I had (and still have) no doubt in my mind that Todd and his new wife Jessa were not meant to be married.  But does that mean that they are condemned to live without hope for restoration in the future?

If God can’t or won’t restore Todd Bentley, what does that mean for the rest of us?  If God won’t “turn mourning into dancing,” make the “wilderness like Eden” and the “desert like a garden” for Todd, why would he do it for us?  Are our sins any more heinous to God?  Is our disobedience and lack of understanding any less intolerable?   I don’t think so.

For the first time, I have a tremendous compassion for Todd and his new wife.  I can understand how they made the mistakes they made, and I empathize with the hurt they must feel.  And for the first time, I understand the attempts being made by Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner and others who are working desperately to “restore what the locusts have eaten.”

Because if God can’t restore Todd Bentley to his former position, what hope does that for leave the rest of us?

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