beauty for ashes, when we’ve totally crashed and burned. 

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3 NLT)


I love tree pose and I love trees. When properly rooted, I could stand in a tree pose forever, feeling stable, steady, strong, and meditating on verses like this one from the book of Isaiah. The very name of the pose itself reminds me of it. 

I’ve written about it in the past, Isaiah 61:3, about what it means to be an oak of righteousness. It’s meant so much to me in different seasons of my life but today, I admit, the “beauty for ashes” strikes a special chord.

It doesn’t specifically say how those ashes came to be ours – historically, I know it was likely the ashes of a burnt offering that ancient people would wear on their skin in mourning – but as someone who basically crashed and burned my “Christian” life somewhat recently, I’m given new hope that, even if all I have left is ashes, I can take these ashes and hand it over to Jesus for something beautiful. 

I have much to mourn – a church community, a marriage, learning that many people aren’t who I thought they were – shit; that I’M not who I thought I was. And maybe it was that mourning that led me to light it up in flames in the first place; I’m not 100% sure but it makes sense. 

It’s always been my prayer to be more of an oak of righteousness – solid, stable, rooted, and grand, but still able to bend with the breeze, and willing to go through this death and resurrection cycle with the seasons many times in the process of growth. And by “always been” I mean it still is. I haven’t necessarily ever let that go. 

There’s still this desire in me to be right with the Lord, so to speak, that through it all, my life would be one of God’s glory in the end, despite my mistakes. Like David, who’s story nowadays, seems to echo my heart tenfold, that it would tell a tale of a pursuit of holiness and what that really means rather than good behavior or a perfect record. 

I just never expected my life to go this way. Not to say or imply regrets, but just to clarify that this was never MY plan. And I’m under no illusions that it’s what God wanted for me specifically either. 

But aren’t these the moments where resurrection happens? Where new life is built? Once everything has been destroyed and stripped away, no matter by who, God is big enough, good enough, and able enough to make it something spectacular? 

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