Russ Murphy ~ Beauty from Ashes

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Late one Saturday evening, around 11pm, I was reading my Bible from the book of Isaiah chapter 61 verse 3 where it says, “God will grant those who mourn in Zion beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” I’ve always loved that verse because, to me, it talks about what the Christian life is all about which is that Christ He has restored fallen mankind to our holy Heavenly Father. That God is continually bringing hopes and dreams that were once dead back to life.

Several hours later, I got a call telling me that our dear friends, David and Betty Weaver’s home was on fire. I immediately rushed across town where I could see the glow of the fire in the cool September night sky. As we got closer I noticed several neighbors outside watching the Weaver’s home burn to the ground. However, what caught my attention was watching and listening to Betty as she tried to console her friends by saying, “God will give us beauty for ashes.” I was so touched by the fact that Betty’s home was being consumed in flames yet she was the one who was offering comfort to her friends, family and neighbors. I thought it was amazing that the Lord was allowing me to witness Isaiah 61:3, a verse I had just read earlier in the evening, being lived out right before my eyes.

I was scheduled to sing a special music later on that Sunday evening at First Baptist Church, Lubbock, and already had a song selected.  However, after seeing how Betty and David handled their loss I felt led to write a song called “Beauty For Ashes.” I wrote the song that Sunday afternoon and had the joy of singing it at the FBC evening worship service. When the service was over both Betty and David came up to me and with tears in their eyes expressed their appreciation. They were such wonderful examples of what it means to trust God even in the darkest times of life.

Over the years I’ve sung that song on many occasions and had so much positive feedback because everyone has had times when they feel lost, lonely and confused.  My prayer is that this song will encourage everyone to keep trusting the Lord.

God has given me “Beauty For Ashes” many times but what I remember most was a prayer I prayed when I was just 11 years old. At that time my parents had just gotten a divorce and there had been no joy in our home for what seemed like an eternity. I really wondered if my life was doomed for misery so I prayed, “Dear God, I don’t want to ask for a lot but could You please let me have a life with at least a little joy and meaning?” I’m sure the Lord shook His head and smiled thinking, “Oh, I’m going to do that for you and even more than you ever could have imagined.” Since then the Lord as given me such a wonderful life that is beyond description.

When it’s all been said and done you can know that no matter what you’re going through the Lord can restore your life and dreams and give you “Beauty For Ashes.”