Beauty from Ashes

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Beauty Does Come from Ashes, but Rarely Without Leaving a Scar

Driving from north to south and coast to coast Margy and I saw an amazing amount of diversity & beauty. None more distinct than the lava flows at the Craters of the Moon National Monument, in Idaho.  It’s an unusual destination and one that never would have been on our radar. But we were prompted by Board Chairman, Dave Lamb – a guru of national monuments and unique places.

We Entered into a Wilderness

We got up in the morning, watched Old Faithful one last time and then left Yellowstone.  If it were not for our GPS, we wondered at times if we were completely lost.  Shortly outside of Yellowstone Park, we entered into a wilderness that went from sparse forests to wide-open untilled land.  There was not much of anything around and the roads seemed vacant.

Once there, we pulled up to an official visitor center that was about to close.  They stayed open long enough for us to watch a brief video that talked of the air pollution in the region.

From there, we ventured onto the winding road cut through the lava flows.  We stopped along the way and walked the vacant pathways.  My mind wandered to the magnificence of a God who could be so creative.  Other than in eastern Oregon, I had never been this close to what was once a major disaster.  This was one of the countries most recent volcanic lava flows.  The land was so arid and dry that there were still remnants of trees trapped in the flow areas.


Thanks to carefully worded placards along the pathway, we were able to take a tour and learn about the place. One interesting placard talked about the minimal wildlife and the species of plants and flowers of the region.  I captured flowers on film as they stood in stark contrast to their surroundings.

My mind immediately went to Isaiah 61:3,

to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”


God is all about taking ashes and bringing beauty out of them, just as the splashes of living color were a welcome contrast amongst the ruins.  However, the scars on the land were still there as stark reminders of the devastation of the past.

It made me grateful for the character of God.  I am justified and the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed me from all evil.  In God’s eyes, I have value and beauty even though each day. The most natural thing for me to do is to look at the lost opportunities and failures of my past.  From this point forward, my resolve has been to focus on the beauty of God’s redemption and to walk in His joy. I am a tree of His planting, fully capable of bearing much fruit for His glory!   Hallelujah; what a Savior!

What a thrill it is for us at the camp to know these concepts and to bring them out in living colors for our campers.  My favorite illustration here on our campsite is the Petoskey Stones that litter our grounds. They are a reminder that the devastation of the Genesis Flood reshaped the warm water coral that was once plentiful in Northern Michigan.  Over the years I have collected hundreds of Petoskey Stones and polished many of them as living illustrations that God makes beauty from ashes.

Sabbatical Take-aways that Will Impact Your Campers this Summer (part seven) was written by Ken Riley, Executive Director at Lake Ann Camp and Retreat Center. 

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