And 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 splendor. – Isaiah 61:3
For most of my life, I’ve lived in Phoenix, Arizona. The city derives its name from the mythical bird phoenix.
According to the myth, the phoenix would sense the end of its life approaching and it would build a funeral pyre and then consume itself in the flames. Three days later, the phoenix would rise from the ashes, as if reborn.
The city of Phoenix was built in the area where an ancient Native American tribe, the Hohokam, had built a complex system of irrigation canals as early as 300 B.C. When the city was founded in 1870, a British settler named Darrel Duppa suggested that the city had risen from the ashes of the Hohokam culture like the mythical phoenix.
It is easy to see the concept of resurrection in the myth of the phoenix. Through the resurrecting fire of the Holy Spirit, God takes the ashes of our lives and creates beauty. He takes the ashes of a prostitute and creates the beauty of a woman sold-out for Him. God takes the ashes of a murderer and creates the beauty of a man living for Jesus. He takes the ashes of a thief and creates the beauty of someone giving it all. And God took my ashes, the ashes of a young man serving a false religion, and created the beauty of a man serving the One True God.
What were the ashes of your life? Pride? Addiction? Hatred? Adultery? Self-degradation? Lying? If you have given your life to Christ, rest assured that He has given you beauty for the ashes. You are resurrected. You are reborn. Praise Him!