And to provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown
of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and
a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called
oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his
The Christmas ornament was beautiful. Each one of the dozens of
indentations on its globed surface acted as a prism, displaying hundreds
of tiny rainbows, but overall, it was deeply purple in color. The other
ladies from the church and I "oohed and aaahed" as it was held up for
the entire group to see. Several women inquired where the item was
purchased, most likely so they could go find one to add to their
Christmas trees this year. The item truly was one-of-a-kind. We were
shocked to learn that such a beautiful item had once been ashes, spewed
forth during Mt. Saint Helens' most recent eruption.
To turn something as unappealing as volcanic ash into a beautiful
Christmas ornament takes a lot of work, and a lot of time. The right
amount of ashen debris must be accumulated for the task. The ashes then
undergo a great deal of pressure, and are subjected to extremely high
temperatures. When the ashes have become a liquid mixture, they are
molded into the desired shape. The beautiful colors were there
naturally, very similar to the swirling rainbows that can be observed in
a thin film of oil on the pavement.
God has the ability to turn the ashes in our lives into something
beautiful. Every heartache, every painful loss, every discouraging or
devastating situation is an opportunity to let God's work change us into
something lovely. In my own life I have collected more than a few
handfuls of ashes. My recurring health battles due to cystic fibrosis
have a tendency to generate quite a few cinders, yet God is still
working to turn them into something that will reflect His glory.
Throughout this process, God is teaching me to rely on Him fully, and
trust Him to work things out in my life so that others can look at me
and see His splendor.
I am not yet an oak of righteousness; perhaps I'm only a sapling. As I
root my life firmly in Christ, and stand on the promises of eternal hope
that He has given me, I become stronger. God's work is far from complete
in my life, but every day I'm learning that in order to reflect Him, I'm
going to have to endure some pain--if only for awhile.
Like that beautiful ornament, we are all one-of-a-kind. God's plan is
unique for each of us, and the circumstances of our lives are too. No
matter what hardships or difficulties we face here on earth, God is
continually creating beauty from our ashes, and clothing us with a
garment of praise.