There’s an Oil for That!

 

. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. –Isaiah 61:3 NIV

I was making butternut squash soup this past week and had taken a pan of the buttered, cubed squash out of the oven. The pan meaning my largest stainless steel saucepan—with a handle.

Now, I don’t make butternut squash soup too often for several reasons: DH doesn’t like it, it’s a lot of work, and it leaves my kitchen a mess. But it’s perfect for a quick, delicious lunch.

In the process of making this batch, I grabbed the handle—the very hot handle—of the saucepan not once—but twice. Without a hot pad.

Talk about a “stupid of me” moment! Especially since blisters were already forming from the first time.

Since kitchen injuries such as burns and sliced fingers are par for the course for me (I never said I was Betty Crocker), I keep a small bottle of lavender essential oil in a kitchen cupboard. Within minutes of slathering on the oil, the pain eased. By the next morning, no trace of the burn remained. No blisters, no redness.

Because I’d rather use natural remedies than manmade chemicals, I have a medicine cabinet shelf full of various essential oils. My skeptical offspring tease me whenever someone complains about an ailment: “There’s an oil for that, right, Mom?”

They aren’t the only skeptics. I’ve given up trying to convince folks that these oils, which are better for the body than manmade chemicals, really work. So I just use them and hope the results are obvious. And try to keep my mouth shut. But that’s hard when I know of something that will improve their lives.

It’s the same with telling others about the benefits of being a Christian. To receive these blessings is as simple as believing and saying, “Yes” to God.

Simple. But not easy. Because letting go of self-control and accepting God-control is hard, unless we’ve made such a mess of things, divine intervention is our only recourse. (It’s our only recourse anyway.) Or because we’d rather trust in something that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and feel than an invisible God who’s as real as the oxygen we breathe.

That’s probably why there are more skeptics than believers.

But, oh, the benefits of being a believer! 

What are they? 

For starters, the omnipotent, omniscient God’s presence, protection, and provision. His steadfast love. His mercy. His grace. His faithfulness.

I’m never alone. When I’m puzzled or hurt, weary or overwhelmed, I have a trusted Person to go to who will give me rest. All my needs are provided, so worry isn’t something I waste my time and emotions on. When I need answers, He provides them. It may take time, but He has never failed me yet.

I could go on and on and on. The Bible is filled with the blessings that belong to believers. Like my kids say, “There’s an oil for everything.”

Do you know someone who can use God’s oils?

As we light the second candle on the Advent wreath, let it be a reminder that Jesus came to give us the oil of joy.

Help me, Lord, not to be silent about the oils of Your blessings. Amen.

Read and meditate on Isaiah 61:1–3 and Luke 4:16–21

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

More Than Just a Decoration (Advent 1: HOPE)

 

Those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. —Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Even though DH brought down the Christmas decorations from the attic two weeks earlier than usual, putting them up is taking longer this year.

It might be because DH and I are slowing down. It might be because our family will no longer gather at our house on Christmas Eve to enjoy a meal together and exchange presents. That tradition, sad to say, has disappeared into the land of Christmas Past.

Life changes. It’s dynamic, not static. Which really is a good thing because the only things that don’t change are dead. So I accept the life changes. Even if I don’t like them. Even though I miss the wonderful chaos that was Christmas Eve at our house.

So, why decorate when there’s just the two of us?

Because there are two of us. And we will celebrate the birth of our Savior because He came to give us something we all need: hope.

Which brings me to the pine cone.

This year, it’s more than a decoration to me.

Why?

Because it symbolizes hope.

I learned something about the pine cone this past summer on our road trip to the Pacific Northwest.

We were blessed with an amazing guide when we took the bus tour of the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park. Most tour guides spout off what they have in their minds because they’ve memorized the script.

Not Jeremiah. He spoke from what was in his heart. His love for the area and for sharing tidbits of information was obvious. There wasn’t a question he couldn’t answer.

After driving through an area that had been devastated by forest fires, he held up a pine cone.

“The intense heat from a forest fire causes the pine cone to open up. Inside are the seeds of new trees,” he explained. “The forest you see around you grew from those seeds that were once inside the pine cones.”

If you’ve ever seen the devastation left by a fire, you’d think all was lost.

But God planned for life to continue. Our Creator placed the seeds of new life within the pine cone and made it so that an all-consuming fire wouldn’t destroy that new life, but initiate it.

Wow.

The forest would never be the same as it was before the fire, but new life emerged from the ashes of the old.

Only God.

There are times in our lives when we are left in the ruins of our hopes and dreams. We stumble through the valley of desolation, darkness without, discouragement and disillusionment within. Our hope is gone.

So we think.

But take a lesson from the pine cone: Hope is never gone. Not when you’ve made the sovereign God your God (see Romans 8:28).

A new life will grow from the ashes of your hopes and dreams. A new dream. New hope that will carry you through when your faith is weak.


As we light the first Advent candle, the candle of Hope, let us remember the pine cone.

It’s more than a decoration. It’s a reminder of hope.

How I need hope, O Lord! Rekindle the fire of hope in my heart, mind, and spirit. Amen.

Read and meditate on Isaiah 40:21–31

More tea:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my HOPE is in him.” – Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Images in public domain.