Beauty For Ashes

Beauty For Ashes

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


The dif­fer­ence is so shock­ing. Sobering.

We drove through the Black For­est this week­end, tak­ing in the dras­tic change to our beau­ti­ful trees.

Most of the time we were speech­less. The rest of the time we were in awe at how the fire worked its way through the for­est. It seemed as though it selected which homes to burn and which to leave untouched. In the pic­ture above, can you see the two pic­nic benches? They were made of wood. They were vir­tu­ally untouched, stand­ing out in all their fresh tan glory. Sit­ting alone in acres of destruc­tion. Why were they spared?

fire bikes


We came upon this house, and I thought, “Oh, look, the fam­ily is here. They brought the bikes for their chil­dren to keep them enter­tained while the par­ents could work.”  Nobody was there. The bikes were mostly spared. The one closer to the house looks untouched. The house, not so much.

fire birdhouse

As we drove around, I got out of the car to look at this house. Sev­eral things about the house intrigued me. First, a bright green caught my eye. I walked over and saw this per­fectly untouched bird­house… behind the com­pletely burned out house. And can you see that old wooden wagon just behind the house? Again, untouched. Why couldn’t it have been the other way around?

As I saw these images, my mind tried to com­pre­hend how this could be. How could we have destruc­tion and loss, so ram­pant, and then a pop of color right in the midst of it? Untouched, not even sooty, but fresh looking?

And I thought of God. How He has plucks His chil­dren from the flames of destruc­tion. How very close we are to the path of the rag­ing fire, yet He spares us. Not one of us deserves the fire or the sal­va­tion more than another. Yet God pre­serves some for His glory. For the awe and won­der­ment of all to behold His mercy. For it is all mercy.

For­est fires burn between 1000 and 1500 degrees F. That’s hot. Under­stand­ing that sim­ple fact makes the whole real­ity that some things sur­vived all the more astonishing.

fire fence melted


This fence just melted.

fire tree sky


Even in the destruc­tion you can see beauty.

fire road


fire house angle


We saw a lot of fire­places stand­ing in heaps of rub­ble. And yet the peo­ple are hope­ful. We saw so many signs thank­ing the first respon­ders and the fire­fight­ers. We even saw this one:

fire thanks

Thank you for try­ing.
Thank­ful in the midst of loss.

Good reminder.

I’m strug­gling to write this post. My thoughts are inter­min­gling, crash­ing, fight­ing with each other to make their way to my key­board. Hope, loss, destruc­tion, sov­er­eignty. In my face. And yours. Com­pas­sion, heartache, and thank­ful­ness. What wins? Real peo­ple have suf­fered immense loss. Real peo­ple were spared.

Some­one told me that some peo­ple who sur­vived loss may have a sense of guilt when they see the rub­ble of their neighbor’s home. Why him and not me? Why ever? Why do we rage against God’s sov­er­eignty? Why can’t we just accept the bad as we accept and often expect the good?

I am reminded of Job. He suf­fered immense loss: his chil­dren, his livestock-sheep and camels (and he had sub­stan­tial live­stock, was the great­est of men in all the east), his ser­vants all in one day. –Job chap­ter 1.  His body was cov­ered with boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. His not-so-helpful wife told him to curse God and die. Yet, Job said:

What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Wow. I would dare say that nobody has ever suf­fered as Job did. And he was faith­ful. He trusted God. Can’t we? Even if we are spared and oth­ers are hurt­ing? Even if we are hurt­ing and our neigh­bor is spared?

What do we do with our utter help­less­ness? Many men fought the flames for many days. God granted mercy by send­ing rain, by turn­ing winds, by stop­ping the fire in only a few days.

I’m thank­ful.

I won­der if I will for­get to be thank­ful by mid-week next week. It’s how we are.

And yet, back to the verse from Isa­iah 61. To give them beauty for ashes…that they may be called trees of righteousness…

We have ashes and burned out trees. I pray that the Lord will bring out His beauty in the peo­ple of the Black For­est. That they will be called trees of right­eous­ness, prais­ing Him, trust­ing Him, hold­ing fast to a faith that is unshak­able, unmove­able. That new life will grow in them.

I have hope.

**Note: I took all of these pho­tos. They are untouched and unedited. I’m an ama­teur. I used my iPhone. Per­haps one day I will fig­ure out more about photo edit­ing. In my spare time.

I’ve linked up here: Cor­ner­stone Con­fes­sions and Sim­ply Help­ing Him

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...