Beauty for Ashes| By Kori Gray

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

It was the prom season of my senior year in high school, and I desperately needed a dress. I remember praying one Sunday morning before service, asking the Lord to send me a prom dress because I knew my mom could not afford it.

Two weeks later, I met a woman at my church. She invited me to her house to look at some clothes to see if I wanted any of them. As we were looking through the piles of clothes, we came along a wedding dress that was her daughters, and she asked if I wanted it to wear to prom. and I said yes!

This lady did not know me at all nor did she know about me praying for a dress. I just knew it was God.

Yes indeed, I wore a wedding dress to prom. At that moment, I did not realize that the Lord was inviting me into something I knew nothing about (beloved identity and marriage with the King of Kings).

Growing up in church, I rarely heard anything about being the bride of Christ. At that point in my life, I was a teenager looking to have fun and do whatever it was that I wanted to do. I was struggling with a lot of things like masturbation, sexual immorality, manipulation, smoking, drinking, depression, and anxiety. Everything I was struggling with had gotten worse in college.

I had a lot of perverted friendships and was always in a guy's arms. Never having sex, but I was always getting emotionally attached to men and women. I indeed had a lot of “husbands”.

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” John 15:18 NLT

I allowed them to make me their prisoner of love and not Jesus.God longs to be our prisoner of love. (Song of songs 8:6)

Jesus constantly invited me to be His bride. I had many visions of Him and I getting married. I had my very first vision at a freedom weekend, or young adult retreat.

During an interesting prophetic exercise, they asked us to pick our favorite scripture, put ourselves in it, and then play it like a comic. My scripture was from John 4:13. The vision was me at a well of water, but the water was unclear and polluted. I was wearing a dress I actually had owned and would have worn to the club. Jesus was on the other side of the well, and we were talking. My clothing then changes into a beautiful, white wedding dress, and Jesus and I walked away together.

The polluted water represented the sin I was drinking in. Even though it was polluted, it was the only thing that I was familiar with. So everything bitter tasted sweet. (Proverbs 27:7). Jesus was inviting me into meeting my ultimate husband (Him). He wanted me to stop drinking from a polluted well and start drinking from a spring of living water (also Him). (John 4:14)

Some months later, I had another vision while I was spending time with Him in my room. It was much different this time. I had on a wedding dress and a veil. Jesus and I were at the altar about to get married. Jesus was in His fullness wearing a crown of thorns, eyes like flames of fire, hands bleeding while He touched my face and hair as white as snow. Then He kissed me. I literally felt Him kiss me, and it did not feel perverted at all. Because when He kisses us it is with his spirit kiss. (Song of Songs 1:1)

I was indeed terrified. No joke. When I had seen this, I immediately thought “this must be demonic”. Jesus is so sweet and merciful that He said to me so plainly and practical “no, it is not”. I felt a little better, but I was still trembling. I asked for confirmation.

Not even two weeks later, I attended a Carolina Revival in South Carolina. A friend of mine at the time shared a vision she had that was a little similar to mine, and it helped me better understand mine. As she explained her vision, the words “beauty for ashes” flashed across my mind. He wanted to exchange my sin and shame for His robes of righteousness and holiness. (Isaiah 61:3-5 KJV)

Lastly, I want to share what the Lord had spoken to me at an Unveiling Eden retreat back in February of this. One of the speakers asked us to do an exercise with a hand held mirror. She gave us markers so that we would write on them what the Lord thinks of us.

These words came to me from the Lord:

I am His rose, you are my dove hidden in a split open rock, the very theme of his song, garden, hidden fountain, bride, shining like the moon, arising as the day spring of the dawn, and bright as the sun in all its strength. ( Song of Solomon 6:10, 2:1,4:12, 2:14, 4:16-5:1 TPT)

I did not fit all of that onto the mirror, but you get the point. He delights in us.

For you shall be called Hephzibah ( My delight ) Isaiah 62:4 (KJV)

I had and still am having a hard time believing what He says about me.

Reveal your heart to Him and tell Him whatever it is that you wrestle with when it comes down to how He sees you and feels about you. He is not afraid of your doubts and insecurities.

I really hope that my testimony of coming into beloved identity and exchanging my spiritual garments helped you. I pray that you would begin to allow the Bridegroom to bring you into a state of tenderness and beloved identity that you were designed for.

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