The perfect vacation for me is a quiet escape to the mountains. As we spiraled a narrow winding road up the mountain to a cabin retreat, I breathed in the sense of rest I knew would be mine to cherish the next few days.
The area of the Great Smoky Mountains is near and dear to me. My parents first introduced me in my junior high school days, and I fell in love with the majesty of the mountains. I introduced my husband when we were dating, and he instantly fell in love with the area, too. Since we first said “I do” at a mountain chapel, we have made several trips to the area through the years.
This particular year, our hearts are saddened and joyed at the same time. Back in November, Gatlinburg suffered from a forest fire. As we drive through the area and see the remnants of the damage, I am reflective of beauty from ashes.
On our peaceful horseback ride this afternoon, several blackened trees marked the sides of the trails. Driving through the town and adjacent roads, burned buildings still beckon to be repaired. A few former attractions and hotels remain closed. For the most part, though, Gatlinburg is alive and well. The area has rallied together since those horrific days and rebuilt beauty from the ashes.
I saw this on a hotel sign…”God bless Gatlinburg and America.” Another sign read simply “Mountain Strong.”
Isaiah 61:3 reads…To those who have sorrow in Zion, I will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored. Isaiah 61:3 NLV
As I read this passage, Gatlinburg could easily be substituted for Zion when I think of the situation of the forest fire. In any situation that seems hopeless, God can make beauty from ashes. When we trust Him to transform the situation, hope replaces despair and all the Glory goes to Him.
Gatlinburg will always have a special place in my heart, and I am humbled by the reminder of God’s power to create beauty from ashes in all things.