Beauty Instead of Ashes

Today God gave me a visual.  I kept seeing a flower, plants or other vegetation blooming through volcanic ash or solidified lava.

It’s crazy to think that when a volcano erupts, that it destroys all that is around it.  There is nothing but death and destruction.  Everything around it is buried, burned and destroyed.  Although the immediate effect of the volcano seems hopeless to life around it, nature (God) does something amazing.  He takes that nutrient from the magma and the ash acts as a fertilizer enriching the soil.  Some plants actually do survive.  But often, a new ecosystem emerges, sometimes more vibrant than before.

A year ago today I was in a deep, dark place.  It felt like my world was crashing in.  But, I had constant hope and reassurance that God was there and that he would (as Isaiah 61:3 says) give me a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, and festive praise instead of despair.

As the anniversary of that “disaster” and “destruction” came around, I was so appreciative of where I was and where I’ve come from.  But, I also felt some of that old feeling trying to poke through.  As I was driving today, I kept hearing amazing songs about God restoring us.  “Rise,” by Danny Gokey: “So rise, Breaking the dark, piercing the night, you’re made to shine, an army of hope, bringing the world a radiant light…You were made to rise.”  (By the way, a year ago his song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” was one of the things that got me through).

Other lyrics I heard today, Matthew West’s song, “Broken Things:” “The pages of history, they tell me it’s true, that it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with scars that you use…Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King, I wish I could bring so much more, But if it’s true You use broken things, then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours….”  And then there’s the Natalie Grants song, “Clean (my current favorite):”  “I see shattered, You see whole, I see broken, but You see beautiful…You’re restoring me piece by piece…What was dead now lives again, Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece.”

I was able to reflect on the fact that just like these little bits of vegetation poking through the ash, God is restoring me, piece by piece.

“And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones

And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know…Oh My Soul…” (by Casting Crowns)

It might not be like it was before, but it is already better than it was before.  I am so grateful that He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)