Emerging from the Ashes: Embracing God’s Refining Fire

In Isaiah 61, we find a profound promise that echoes through the ages: a promise of transformation, of beauty emerging from ashes. This promise, however, is not indiscriminately bestowed neither on the casual or the self-absorbed, but reserved for those who dwell in Zion, a place of spiritual thirst and surrender.

[Isa 61:3 KJV] 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

The notion of ashes resonates with the aftermath of destruction, the remnants of loss and devastation. Yet, ashes also hold within them the potential for renewal, a transformation that only the fire can bring. This fire, often misconstrued as the work of the enemy, is, in fact, often the purifying fire of God, a fire that seeks to refine, to consume what is not of Him.

Zion, meaning “the parched place,” signifies a spiritual longing, a hunger for God’s presence that cannot be quenched by the superficial waters of distraction and false satisfaction. It is in this state of spiritual thirst that we become more susceptible to the transformative power of God’s fire.

Not Enough “Emaciated” Christians

Like the newly converted prisoner who declared not just his hunger but his EMACIATION for God, we, too, must acknowledge our spiritual hunger, our need to be consumed by the fire of God’s holiness. We are too fat with our own sense of ourselves. Our appearance, our love of self, our fascination (as Narcissus gazing at his reflection) our fascination with ourselves.) Only God’s fire can render down the fat on our bones to bring us to the end of ourselves. This fire, though intense, is not meant to destroy but to refine, to reduce to ashes those things that hinder our true connection with Him.

Time to Render Down the Wood, Hay and Stubble

The fire of God’s jealousy, as described in Isaiah 61, is not a vengeful flame but a purifying one. It seeks to remove anything that stands between us and God, whether it be relationships, heart treasures, or even the tender sentiments that originate from a source other than God Himself.

The first church I helped lead was pastored by my father and spiritual father, Roy Walden. The congregation loved Dad but they allowed their love for him and his anointing to distract them from what God wanted. In the pulpit one day, Dad declared, “What you allow to come between you and God, God will remove.” That week God took my dad out of that situation, and he spent YEARS in struggle not because of disobedience but because he refused to be a “nehushatan” for the people (see brazen serpent in the O.T.). It was devastating, but in due course, God did bring beauty from the ashes wrought by his obedience.

The Blast Furnace of God’s Presence

This fire, like a refining furnace, consumes the wood, hay, and stubble of our lives, representing the carnal nature, the animal instincts, and the remnants of a harvest yet to be fully gathered. It is a process that can be painful, challenging our understanding of what we hold dear.

Yet, it is through the ashes that beauty emerges. Before beauty can take root, the fire must first do its work, clearing the ground for a transformation that only God can bring. The ashes, once symbols of destruction, become the very foundation for a renewed life, a life adorned with the beauty of God’s presence.

Just as Moses had to remove his sandals on holy ground, we must approach God with reverence and openness, allowing Him to consume all that is not of Him. This may involve surrendering relationships, relinquishing control, and even letting go of dreams that we once held dear.

Lord, You Pruned Too Much

The pruning of the Lord, though sometimes perceived as a loss, is ultimately a process of growth, a preparation for the fullness of God’s plan for our lives. It is a process that aligns our desires with His, ensuring that our lives reflect His purity, holiness, and godliness.

The ears of many have grown dull with wax, a metaphor for spiritual insincerity. We have become accustomed to the world’s distractions, allowing them to numb our spiritual senses. Yet, time is not on our side. The Father will not wait forever. We will embrace the chastisement of His word or in due course reap the consequences of His unwillingness to leave us behind laden down with all those things we are trying to bring with us.

Only For the Willing

The promise of beauty for ashes remains, but it is only for those who are willing to embrace the fire to surrender to the refining process that God has ordained for them. It is a journey that demands courage, humility, and a deep-seated desire for God’s presence in our lives.


Are you in Zion? Are you willing to embrace the fire, to allow it to consume all that is not of God? If so, then prepare to be transformed, to emerge from the ashes, adorned with the beauty of God’s unwavering love.

Is this you? Is this a word from heaven for this time in your life? Or just another cutesy post with an entertaining turn of phrase. I hope in this word you find chastisement and a bit of the fear of God. It is better to be chastened with His word than with His hand.

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