Beauty from Ashes

"I was the Lost Sheep. The Good Shepherd sought me even as I ran from Him, eager to go my own way, and He rescued me from the desperate pit of despair in which I was drowning." Join our guest blogger, Brian Miller, as he shares openly from his own 'Beauty from Ashes' story.

Beauty from Ashes

A little girl with hair of wild flames
So lost in a spell, she’d forget her own name.
Her demons would scream in her head, “Take the blame.
You’ll never escape your disgrace
Nor ever take flight from this place.
Get used to guilt’s bitter embrace―
The torturous, bittersweet taste
Of what you have done, it’s your shame.”
 
Her green eyes would well up with tears;
She wished she could just disappear―
No goodbyes to her puppeteers.
She’d slip away to some silent plateau
Where she could be alone with the snow,
And no one would hear her numb cries
As the wind whispers her lullabies,
And she yearns for lost peace to draw near.
 
So pretty she is,
But her eyes they hold years
Of anguish and sorrow, of unquenchable fears.
Vacant, she wanders and feels so unloved;
The spark she had once
Drowned by the flood
Of unfinished plans and unreachable dreams
Of a heart shattered and regrets by the ream.
Her life’s ‘ever marked
By all that she’s lost―
Fleeting good times, but at what cost?
And now she lies all alone once again,
Longing for silence, this nightmare to end.
Oh, that she could go back to when
Her life had such promise ‘fore her future began;
She can’t even recall how to say “amen.”
 
Scorched and scalded, she’s resigned
To all that’s left―
The awful grind.
Where’s some meaning; her to find?
How could she have been so blind?
Teardrops languish on her long lashes
As she hopes against hope
For beauty from ashes.
Perhaps I’m being presumptuous when I think out loud that everyone, on some level or another, can identify with that girl. We all feel alone, regret, shame, guilt, sorrow at some point, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. We all experience emotional trauma; it’s the human condition in this fallen world. Some push those feelings aside or try to drown them or mask them or distract themselves with pursuits of pleasure. Others feel them far more intensely and can become consumed and even immobilized by their pain.
Let me tell you about this girl, for I know her all too well. You see, in a way, I am she, and, no, not in a gender-confused kind of way. Let me give you some background.

Some of you were vaguely introduced to my story in my first guest blog post―“The Right Ingredients”―for Reasons for Hope a month ago. Here is a little more to the story:
I was the Lost Sheep. The Good Shepherd sought me even as I ran from Him, eager to go my own way, and He rescued me from the desperate pit of despair in which I was drowning.
I was the Prodigal Son. Instead of treasures in Heaven, I desired pleasures on Earth, and was left poor, wretched, and brokenhearted until, like the young man in the parable, I “came to my senses” and realized that my Father still loved me and was waiting for me with open arms.

Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

That verse was one I clung to like a life preserver for the last several of my “lost years.” After living like I was invincible and entitled in my late teens and 20s, I reaped the consequences of that whirlwind as I entered my next decade―losing my job, my wife, and nearly my life in a terrible accident, and then my Camaro, my home, and finally, my little brother―in what felt like one fell swoop. Actually, it was 18 months, but it felt like one crushing wave.

I wasn’t willing to seek the Lord with all my heart, because like a fool, I continued to trust in myself more than I trusted Him.

Though I believed that verse to be true, I wasn’t willing to seek the Lord with all my heart, because like a fool, I continued to trust in myself more than I trusted Him. Accordingly, I continued to spiral in a macabre dance with depression and an early death for several more years, still pridefully struggling to fix everything I’d broken, a former “Mr. Most-Likely-to-Succeed,” failing worse with every futile effort and ill-conceived plan.

A decade ago, I came across the following passage:

Isaiah 61:1, 2b, 3a NKJV

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 comfort all who mourn … To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Poor. Brokenhearted. Captive. That was me!
The phrase “beauty for ashes” particularly struck a chord with me. At the time, I had furiously begun writing poetry to try to deal with my intense feelings of loss and despair. Late one night in the summer of 2012, the poem that you read above poured out in 15 minutes. I kidded myself that I had a muse; the reality was that I had created a character to bear all my feelings of utter sadness and desolation.
Praise God that in His matchless grace, He took my regret, my sorrow―all the burdens that I had sought to carry myself. A few months later, I woke up one morning and realized that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I needed Him. I called out to Him, and though He saw the wretch that I was, He loved me anyway. He proved Himself faithful and continues to prove all His promises are forever true.
When I finally sought Him with my whole heart, He was there. He rescued the helpless sheep. I returned to my Father’s house, and He welcomed me and blessed me far beyond measure.
One of my favorite songs is the beautiful “The Love of God.” I hope you can identify as I do with the first verse, which goes like this:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

The third verse is so eloquent and majestic:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

I’ll never be able to write enough about His amazing love that rescued this poor man who cried out to Him. He gave him undeserved beauty from ashes. He promises to do the same for you.
Author Bio:
Brian Miller is a longtime newspaper columnist and freelance writer. He and his wife Bethany, a fellow “preacher’s kid” (and talented musician and chef) split their time between Eveleth, MN, and South Padre Island, TX. Brian seeks to use lessons learned in his life of God’s unchanging love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness to bring hope to others who may be struggling. The Millers are seeking God’s guidance for future ministry opportunities and appreciate your prayers. You may write to him at bd1976@pm.me.

Our Newest Releases!

IMPACT curriculum trains and equips young adult believers to stand boldly on the Word of God. It helps them know why they believe what they believe so that, in turn, they can live and share their faith with confidence.

Unit 1: Foundations begins with the basic principles of apologetics, biblical worldview, and critical thinking. This groundwork prepares students to unpack the rich content of the attention-grabbing DeBunked videos while they build relationships with others, actively apply the lesson content, and find true purpose in planting seeds of faith in a world that needs the hope of Christ. Click HERE to see other related products or to order this valuable resource.
We also encourage you to purchase our newest ministry book, Did Jesus Commit Suicide? And 27 Other Questions That Teens Have About the Bible (that adults want to know, too) to help you answer questions from a biblical worldview that teens are asking today. Click HERE.

We Have an App for That!

Our app is FREE and is designed to encourage you in your walk with Christ and to train and equip you and your family in staying bold in your faith. Just click HERE, and look for the blue asterisk on the black background.
Posted in

No Comments


Recent

Archive

Categories

Tags

1 Chronicles 16:8-12 1 Chronicles 22:14 1 Chronicles 29:11 1 Corinthians 10:31 1 Corinthians 13 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 1 Corinthians 15:21 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 1 John 2:15-17 1 John 4:10 1 John 4:19 1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 4:12-13 1 Peter 4:12-19 1 Peter 5:10 1 Thessalonians 5:11 1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:3-10 100 miles 1Peter 1:17-21 2 Chronicles 9:13-29 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Peter 3:9 2 Samuel 23:8-12 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 3:16-17 2 Timothy 4:11 25% are staying 50k 55-mile race Abraham sacrificing Isaac Abraham was very rich. Abuja Acts 11 Acts 13 and 15 Acts 17:11 Acts 1:8 Acts 9 Albert Einstein Alyssa Glander America waited too long. Apostle Peter Barna poll Barnabas Be a Berean Be bold! Be bold Be happy! Be part of the process. Be still and know that I am God Best Evidence God Created Bible Bob Gillespie Brian Miller C.S. Lewis CRT Candace Nordine Carl Kerby Jr. Carl Kerby Choosing for Two Christ in me Christ opened my eyes. Christian witness Chruch Colossians 1:27 Colossians 2:14 Colossians 3:17 Colossians 3:1 Colossians 4:5-6 Columbo Tactic D. Mark Jacobs Jr. Dan Lietha Dave Glander David Tautofi DeBunked 15 DeBunked TV DeBunked Deuteronomy 11:13 Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Did Jesus Commit Suicide? Dr. Andrew Fabich Dr. Francis Schaeffer Dr. Jason Lisle Dr. William Beal Draa Mackey Easter Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 4:10 Eleazar Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 3:17-18 Ephesians 3:19-21 Ephesians 4:29 Ephesians 5:15-17 Ephesians 6:4 Exodus 17:11 Exodus 17:12 Exodus 33:14 Facing the Giants Frank Figueroa Galatians 2:20 Galatians 5:1 Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 6:9 Gen Z Genesis 13:1-2 Genesis 1:14-15 Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:29 Genesis 1:31 Genesis 3:10 Genesis 3 Genesis Glendive Montana God created you God is rich in mercy God loves us. God loves you God won the battle God-shaped vacuum God's Word God's character God's joy God's plan God's pursuit God\'s Word God\'s character God\'s joy God\'s plan God\'s pursuit God\\\'s character God\\\'s joy God\\\'s plan God\\\'s pursuit God\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\'s joy God\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan Gods Word is truth Gods Word Gods care Gods character Gods divine plan Gods light Gods love story Gods plan of redemption Gods plan Gods wisdom Good Shepherd Gospel message Grammar matters Groggy Hawaii He is always faithful. Heaven Hebrews 10:19-22 Hebrews 11 Hebrews 12:1-3 Hebrews 12 Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:8 Hebrews 7:25 Hell His glory Holly Varnum Holy Spirit How can I fight and overcome fear? Hubble Huntsman Center I Peter 3:15 IMPACT Impact Curriculum Is it okay for a Christian to be rich? Is life good? Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 26:3-4 Isaiah 40:28-31 Isaiah 40:29 Isaiah 40:31 Isaiah 41 Isaiah 43:1 Isaiah 45:9a Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 64:8 Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 9:6 It is well with my soul Jamaica James 1:12 James 1:15 James 1:17 James 1:2 James 4:10 James 4:8 January 2022 Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:13 Jeremiah 33:3 Jesus and me Jesus chose to die. Jesus comforts the broken-hearted. Jesus saw their faith Job 1:3 Job 2:8 John 10:17-18 John 10:27 John 11:25 John 14:6 John 15:13 John 15:16a John 16:33 John 1:12 John 1:35-42 John 3:16-17 John 3:16 John 8:32 John 8:36 John Mark John Ray Joni Eareckson Tada Joni and Friends Joseph A. Kennedy Joshua 1:9 Joshua 22:5 Joshua 24:15 Juan Valdes Justice Kaimuki Bulldogs Kaimuki High School King David King Solomon Know It! Live It! Share It! Lacey Reitz Lamentations 3:22-24 Leviticus 18:24-30 Leviticus 25:23 Liberty Institute Life in layers Life is good because God is good. Life is good Listen to His voice. Listen Loose the Lion Luke 12:12 Luke 18:1 Luke 22:32 Luke 5:1-11 MTD Malachi 3:3 Malachi 3:6 Mark 10:8 Mark 16:15 Mark 1:16-18 Mark 2:3-5 Mark 5:19 Mark 6:31 Martin Luther Master Potter Matthew 10:20 Matthew 10:32 Matthew 11:28-29 Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:29-30 Matthew 11:29 Matthew 13 Matthew 14:22-33 Matthew 16:24 Matthew 19:16-24 Matthew 19:23-24 Matthew 1:22-23 Matthew 27:75 Matthew 28:18-20 Matthew 4:18-20 Matthew 5:13 Matthew 5:16 Matthew 6:19-20 Matthew 6:19 Matthew 6:27 Matthew 6:33 Matthew 9:35 May 15 1987 Memory Lane Mere Christianity Mic'd Up Mic\'d Up Mic\\\'d Up Mic\\\\\\\'d Up Mic\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'d Up Michigan State University Miracles Money is their god. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Mosaic NRB National Religious Broadcasters Nigeria Noah's ark Parable of the sower Pastor Baba Paul Varnum Peter Philippians 1:6 Philippians 2:3-4 Philippians 3:12-16 Philippians 3:7-8 Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:8 Plan C Please say Yes! Please say "Yes!" Please say \"Yes!\" Please say \\\"Yes!\\\" Potter Proverbs 12:26 Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 15:4 Proverbs 16:3 Proverbs 18:12 Proverbs 18:24 Proverbs 19:21 Proverbs 1:20 Proverbs 3:5-6 Psalm 100:5 Psalm 103:2-5 Psalm 119:105 Psalm 119:11 Psalm 119:160 Psalm 122:1 Psalm 138:1-2 Psalm 139:14 Psalm 139:17 Psalm 13:6 Psalm 147:4 Psalm 16:11 Psalm 18:1-2 Psalm 19:1 Psalm 1:1 Psalm 1 Psalm 23:1 Psalm 23:2 Psalm 23:4 Psalm 23:6 Psalm 27 Psalm 29:2 Psalm 34:19 Psalm 40:2 Psalm 40:8 Psalm 42 Psalm 68:19 Psalm 69:9a Psalm 8:3 Psalm 8:4 Psalm 92:1-4 Pursued Put God first Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life Reasons for Hope* Reasons for Hope Respond to God's voice Respond to God\'s voice Respond to God\\\'s voice Respond to God\\\\\\\'s voice Resurrection RforH Romans 10:14 Romans 10:15 Romans 10:9-10 Romans 10:9 Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:9-21 Romans 1:16 Romans 3:23 Romans 5:12 Romans 5:17 Romans 6:23 Romans 8:14 Romans 8:26 Romans 8:28 Sanctity of Life Schaftlein Report Scriptures September 11 Shelby Pruitt Spurgeon Stay bold! Stay bold Supreme Court Surprised by Joy Thanksgiving The Bible Project The Right Ingredients The Screwtape Letters There is no truth Think before you post. TikTok Tish Kerby Trust His heart Trusting God Use God's Word correctly. Use God\'s Word correctly. Wade Wacker Wealthy Christians What is a Christian? What is my purpose? Who Made God? Why am I here? Why did Jesus have to die? Wooed Word of God Your grace still amazes me. Your vote matters. a little at a time a process; not an event abortion absolute truth acacia accepting help achieving the impossible angry another child of God struggling answering questions antidote to fear anxious apologetics astronomy astrophysics be not afraid biblical Christianity biblical creationist biblical perspective biblical worldview blindfold boldness bold branch brokenness butterfly caged called to encourage cancellation cease striving certainty challenge character check your attitude children clay coercion come alongside comfort zone comfortable Christian commas save lives compromised confidence confused conjunction created in Gods image critical race theory critical thinking cross curriculum cut the head off the snake debate defend depressed depression design of the eye desperate passion dinosaur dig don't fight alone don't stop don\'t fight alone don\'t stop don\\\'t fight alone don\\\'t stop don\\\\\\\'t stop dont stop doubt encouragement entrusted by God to do good eternal life eternity without God evangelism examine the scriptures eye fair and impartial faith walk family circle family first fear not fearfully and wonderfully made fear feeling lost feeling overwhelmed fig filled with joy and worship flight cancelled football coach forest former athiest freedom of choice fruit galaxies give a defense give thanks glory in His holy name good news of Jesus Christ good news grace gratitude grog having conversations heroes of the faith hope human eye humble ourselves illness impact lives impact your teammates positively impulsive incomprehensible God isolation keep moving keep progressing largest church in the world layers leaf light year speed like Christ live in freedom loss of loved ones love of money love made for another world made in His image marriage memories memorization without application memorizing Scripture missing opportunities more like Christ multiple meanings mystical truth never compromised no complaints no hope no pain no gain no quitting nonconformist not a fetus not ashamed oak objective right and wrong olive one foot in front of the other opened doors opportunity to bring hope overwhelming distance palms part of a team passionate patience patriotism paying it forward persecution persevere perspective physics plans pomegranate positive messages postgame prayer potsherd pottery potter power of the Word praying preposition progress quadriplegic quiet time reach the younger generation reality exists reality reassurance red cardinal redemptive work of Christ refining refocus what church looks like relationship with God relentless forward motion represent Christ resolutions rest right time right words root of all evil root sacrifice salvation see God move seed experiment seek the Lord shine a light silversmith situation slavery social media son of encouragement speak life speak your truth spiritual apathy spiritual harvest stagnant church stand boldly on the Word of God stand up against evil star-gazing starstruck stars step by step stranded stress statistics stress study for yourself suffering sycamore symbol of God's love and reassurance symbol of God\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\\\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of Gods love and reassurance teaching science telescope terebinth thank you thankful the apple of his eye the finish line the lion will defend itself the seeing eye think for yourself thriving in Christ traditions traffic trees trials tribulation troubles truth turn to God ultamarathon ultrarunner unborn child uncage the Lion uncertain uncover the truth unfair universe unpredictable use your gift vine virgin birth visual reminders vote wethering the storm where two worlds collide willow windows to the soul worldview worth fighting for your circle matters youth ministry youth zeal for worship