Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Out of the Ashes

"From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine."
~Nothing is Wasted, Jason Gray
I was in Tahoe two weeks ago for work; I know, I've got a pretty awful job, huh. But in all honesty, I do have a great job and recognize how blessed I am to get to experience the things I do through work. 

This time of year in Tahoe is absolutely beautiful. After the work part of the trip, I was fortunate enough to take a half-day photography tour of Tahoe. The guide took us all over the South Shore area, showing us several places I've never seen before. Our last stop on the trip was a road that winds up above Fallen Leaf Lake that offers some great views.  One side of the road overlooked the lake and the other looked over a valley that had been devastated by a fire a few years back.

At first glace the area appeared desolate and destroyed. The trees that were left standing seemed to be only remnants of what they once were; bare trunks, blackened and scarred from the flames with no visible evidence of the life they once gave through their branches and leaves.  For all intent and purposes, it looked like a wasteland now. However, looking deeper there were signs of new life all over. Green sprouting up from what was once just ashes. It was interesting to learn that controlled fires can be good for the area, that they stimulate growth and some trees in fact need the heat to open up their cones and spread seeds.
As I snapped away with my camera, I couldn't help but make the leap to how God works. During the trials and the fire, He is in fact working behind the scenes to bring new life and goodness from what was meant for destruction.  He takes things that at first appear ugly and broken and He turns them all into beauty. Maybe not always beauty as the world might describe, but the kind of beauty found in a heart that still hopes, in a strength that cannot be broken and a joy that cannot be shaken.
This is a theme that I write about a lot on here, but it is something so close to my heart because I've walked that path.  There has been grief that at times felt too overwhelming to handle and there were shattered dreams.  But I have seen God refine me through it all. I've seen Him working good in the lives of me and my children. I have seen the moments of beauty already and I am trusting that what I may still not understand right now, one day I will see how it was used for His glory.
"He has sent me . . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy 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 splendor." Isaiah 61: 2-3
Looking back now, I think that I might be like those trees that needed the heat to truly grow and thrive. I wouldn't have chosen these events for myself, but through them I believe my life is headed in a direction that might not have been possible were it not for walking through the fire. The fire has allowed seeds planted to grow amidst the pain and in that I see beauty.