Beauty for Ashes!

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified,” Isaiah 61:3 NKJV

Isaiah 61 is probably one of the most comforting chapters in the Bible. The very first verse begins with good news preaching “good tidings to the poor,” speaks of   heal the broken-hearted,” and proclaims “liberty to the captives.”

We have all at one time or another been in need of good tidings, healing or freedom from bondage. This chapter provides hope of change or rather an exchange of what we have for what our God is willing to give us instead.

God’s love for us allows us the opportunity to give Him those things that are painful and receive from Him beauty, joy and relief from oppression. These things He gives to us not only for our good, but that He may be glorified in the process.

We all suffer wounds along our way. We have losses and people we mourn. There are things we’ve held dear that have been reduced to nothing. We’ve all felt overcome by fear, doubts, and even the duties of daily life. But we don’t have to stay bound by any of this!

The cherry tree pictured below has been wounded. The gouge in the trunk was not created by nature. So great a wound could have killed it. Some of the things we experience can kill us too.
But God! This damaged tree yet blooms! And we can too!  DSC_2960


We can rise up and above our losses, regrets and missteps! God enables us through the anointing and blessing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for us that we may be freed from the pain and suffering sin brings. When we choose Him, He exchanges what we have for what can be.

Choosing God allows us to be planted and restored as His people; strong, beautiful and useful. We have a purpose to serve!

If you are feeling wounded, don’t give up! Instead, give yourself over to God. He can take what is left for dead and give new life! He restores us! He can even equip us to restore others! God can take our pitiful selves and through us to do the miraculous!


God’s blessings aren’t always “in your face.” His blessings often start small and grow. Like a seed, God’s blessings can evolve into more than we can even imagine. What is at first naked to the eye can develop into something so large there is no doubt God has caused it to thrive and prosper.

Isaiah preached of what was to come.

The God Isaiah spoke of is available to us now. Accessible. Ever present. Healer. Redeemer.

The key to receiving the beauty of God is having faith in not only what He has done but in what He can do for us. Now.

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalms 90:17 NKJV

Flaws and All!

“Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God,” Luke 3:5-6 NKJV 

 The Cherry trees pictured above are mostly recognized for their soft fragrant blooms. However, what I find most fascinating about these trees is not their short lived blooms but rather their imperfect trunks. Even the limbs that spread out into pink and white canopies grow irregular and seemingly malformed. 

I think their true beauty stems from the fact that their rough and ill-shaped limbs can still produce something so delicate and beautiful.  Only God can take what is rough and crooked and turn it into something magnificent and breathtaking. The transformation of these trees from something sinister looking into what they are now illustrates how our Father can do the same with us. 

You see, I believe that what God does for these trees, He can do on a continual basis for you and me. Even when we have deviated from the proper path, God can still allow us to flourish, bloom and even glorify Him. DSC_2881

Our twists and turns often take us away from the narrow path that leads to Him. Even our best efforts to be spiritual, church going, or however you choose to commune with God ultimately fall short in developing us into the people we can be. Only God can make us righteous, a blessing to others and develop us into people who look outward instead of inward.   

God uses our “detours” away from Him to define and build our character. And sometimes isn’t always about the choices we make as it is how we react to the twists and turns life throws our way.  

Sometimes we do get where we want to go, just not when or how we expected to get there. Our experiences often become a reference from which we change. Hopefully, we become compassionate. Educated. Humble. Not bitter, mean or hopeless.  

Recognizing our faults and weaknesses makes us wiser because we learn we can’t do it ourselves. We need Him. God is not an accessory in our lives but a vital necessity! 

Only He can make our crooked places straight. Flaws and all, God can use us; we can glorify Him! 

We just have to remember to not let the twists and turns obscure the bigger picture. He does love us. He wants us to flourish, blossom and grow…nearer to Him. Because our God wants the absolute best for us. And that just happens to be Him.  

Though less than perfect, these trees never stop reaching up toward the Heavens. 

And neither should we.