Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Oil of Joy for Mourning

Mineral oil, caster oil, cod liver oil, olive oil, coconut oil, various forms of essential oils...even though they have fallen out of fashion with the advancement of modern medicine, throughout history oil has been a step in the healing process.

The burns on Phillip's arm required something stronger than oil to heal properly, but for the hurting hearts involved the oil of joy flowed in abundance.

I have never been much for "signs and wonders" (I grew up an independent-Baptist after all), but I have always believed that when we need it, God doesn't hesitate to remind us that He is there. That reminder hit Mark full-force when he and Phillip returned from the hospital that night and stopped to see what was left of the house.

There were still a few firemen left, checking for hot spots and whatever else it is they do after a fire, and they walked with Mark through the ashes. As they got closer to Madison's room they saw a red glow in the distance. Thinking it was an ember, they all moved toward it to make sure it got snuffed out. But what they saw...

Earlier that fall we had gone to the Christian Music Festival at Carowinds and Madison had gotten a white, plastic cross necklace that lit up with all kinds of neon colors. Like most things you purchase at those types of events, it didn't last long and within a week or two the batteries had died and it didn't work any longer.

But that glowed. In the midst of the darkness and turmoil and smoke and stink and ash...the light of the cross could not be extinguished.

In fact, it was still glowing late the next afternoon when Mark and Phillip took me through the house after our trip to the Augusta Burn Center. After that, the light went away, but the cross still sits on our of the first things moved into this house...our reminder that no matter how bad things might seem, or how impossible the situation, God is always prepared to provide the oil of His joy.

In our day of modern conveniences, we don't take the time to think of something like oil as a symbol of blessing and provision. But God's provision in the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath became real to me during this time.

The generosity of the people around us astounded us for weeks. It was never the things or the money that they provided that meant so much, though. It was the love behind those actions.

Even then, the thought of refurnishing a home was overwhelming. Mark and the kids were graciously provided with a place to live (which we have since purchased and is now our permanent home). We moved everything from my apartment that I could live without until the wedding...we even sent my bed and I slept on my tiny, little loveseat until Mark told me I was getting cranky and I borrowed a bed from a co-worker for those last few weeks...but the house still seemed empty.

It seemed like everyday for weeks I'd have a new list...bedding, clothes, hangers, groceries, towels, toiletries, laundry supplies, kitchen never seemed to end. Each day I'd warn Mark that I was going to spend some money and it wasn't going to be cheap. He'd raise his eyebrows a little, take a breath, and ask me for my best estimate before telling me to do what I thought was best.

Later that evening I'd tell him about my purchases and go over how much I spent, but by the time I got to that point he'd have opened an envelope or two that came in the mail, or slipped to him at work, or any other of a multitude of sources. It almost never failed that the envelope would contain just about what I spent that day, often even more.

Again, it was not, and will never be about the "things" that people gave to was, and will always be about the never-ending oil of joy that was being poured out on our lives in the midst of the mourning.

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