The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
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.
Not far from here is a fragrant, flower-covered hill that is perhaps 25 or 30 feet high at the top. I couldn't really capture the glorious color, but these pictures give you an idea. It is large enough to be visible from a distance.
Isn't that glorious? You cannot see it in the photo, but this little hill sits off the side of the road because of nearby construction. Last year the beautiful mass of color was just unsightly dirt and debris left over from excavations, and bulldozers unceremoniously piled it on the side of the road. I remember driving past and thinking that they should have at least put it back from the road a bit. I wondered if someone would eventually move it.
Winter comes, as always here, with plenty of ice and snow. The unsightly brown hill became a mound of glistening white. As the first hints of spring warmth arrived, bits of green sprouted here and there.
Then one day, seemingly overnight, I drove by and saw that the ugly and useless pile of dirt had become beautiful--covered with green grass, purple phlox, and wild yellow mustard! I wish I had taken a picture then. The mustard plants soon disappeared and the phlox seemed to expand daily to eventually cover the hill in a fragrant mass of color.
I don't know if some anonymous nature lover decided that the ugly dirt pile needed to be something else--and spread phlox seeds all over--or if somehow it just "happened" as seeds that lay dormant were stirred up, left to the sunshine and rain and--voila--something beautiful grew.
Phlox grows wild here and right now it can be found in many fields, ditches and tall grasses.
I do know that what was a pile of dirt and debris a short time ago is now so lovely that I stopped to take a picture, and I've seen others doing the same. I pass this mass of flowers almost every day and I always feel a little lighter of heart, wondering how such a thing came to be.
The words "beauty for ashes" kept coming to mind. Beauty for ashes? When one is in a metaphorical ash heap, it is hard to imagine beauty. The Isaiah passage is one that Jesus quoted, saying that it was fulfilled in him. The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who heals, consoles, comforts, and transforms us.
I choose to consider this metaphor of new life as a special gift of God to me in difficult days. Each time I pass it (almost every day) I pray that the Lord will give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise instead of a heavy spirit. I ask that for myself, and I ask if for others who are waiting for the promise of beauty to be fulfilled.
I am praying for you. According to the passage, the end result, friends, is that God is glorified. May it be so!