Beauty for Ashes and the Power of God: Part 1

Part I—Beauty for Ashes

Recently as I reflected upon God’s amazing ability to transform the most horrific circumstances into a glorious display of His wisdom, power and might, I thought of the expression “beauty for ashes.” Isaiah 61:3 offers a series of such transformations or exchanges that only God can give. I used that particular verse as the epigraph or introduction to a poem with that title:

Beauty for Ashes

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.

Isaiah 61:3

Beauty for ashes–you are transformed to testify

Of a life radically changed that you might glorify

The God of Heaven who touches the earth with His love

That overflows with bountiful blessings from above.

You are blessed and highly favored–no one can deny.

That you should be chosen by God some may wonder why,

But none can fathom God’s grace, no matter how they try.

Ascend into God’s presence on the wings of a dove:

Beauty for ashes.

Many times it may seem as if life has passed you by,

But God is faithful; on Him you can always rely.

Nothing in this life surpasses God’s unchanging love;

It is far beyond all that you could ask or think of.

Remember that God is not a man that He should lie:

Beauty for ashes.


About a year later, I completed another poem containing a reference to Isaiah 61:3.  Shortly after writing the poem, I was asked to officiate at a funeral service and do the eulogy for someone who had not been affiliated with a local church. It was an unusual service for me in that for the first time the individual being eulogized had been cremated. On a table in front of the mortuary was an urn that contained the ashes of the deceased.  As it turned out, this was perfect occasion for sharing the poem which has a line “Just as from ashes beauty and splendor arise.” The poem also contains a theme related to God with whom all things are possible and with whom nothing is impossible.

No Matter How You Phrase It

And Jesus looking upon them saith,    

With men it is impossible, but not with God:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              for with God all things are possible. 

Mark 10:27


For with God nothing shall be impossible.          

Luke 1:37


There is none like God who never fails to come through:

Whether you say “With God all things are possible”

Or say “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

No matter how you phrase it, the Word is still true.

As one who observes the times, I wisely surmise

That the Prince of Peace ascended to end all strife,

Leading captive even death to release new life.

Just as from ashes beauty and splendor arise,

I boldly declare the Word of God and assert

The Providence of an all-wise Father who makes

 Barrenness to bloom with rivers in the desert.

With the Word of Life, even death itself awakes.

I seek to walk in wisdom and number my days,

Humbly discerning that your ways are not my ways.

In addition to reading the poem as part of the eulogy, I also commented about the beauty of gemstones that are formed from volcanic ash. Did you know that ashes in volcanoes under extreme heat and pressure provide the perfect conditions to form certain precious stones, such as diamonds?  As the volcanoes erupt, they push the gemstones to the surface where they can be seen after the site has cooled.  So, indeed, God both figuratively and literally “gives beauty for ashes.”

Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly offer a tender rendition of the song “Beauty for Ashes.”

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9 Responses to “Beauty for Ashes and the Power of God: Part 1”

  1. latisha green-pugh Says:

    such a beautiful poem thanks for the words of encouragement and thank you for letting God be God in you. God bless you

    • Dr. J Says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I appreciate your stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe and being blessed by the blog entry.
      I have been encouraged by your words as well.

      Dr. J (aka Lonnell Johnson)

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  3. Coconut Oil Skin Says:

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    • Dr. J Says:

      Thank you for stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe and making a comment. I apologize for the barrage of comment notifications. Is there some way you could uncheck the initial request to be notified with each new comment. Otherwise, I’m not sure how to stop the unwanted comments. I will check further in to the matter.

      Again, I apologize for any inconvenience.

      Dr. J/Lonnell Johnson

  4. On 9-11-13: Remembering beauty for ashes | Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe Says:

    […] […]

  5. Henry Says:

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    Part 1 | Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” on my web-site.
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    Regards ,Rhonda

    • Dr. J Says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. By all means bookmark the blog entry. I praise God that it was a blessing to you.

      Dr. J

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