In the month of May I am taking a break from public writing and sharing the posts of other bloggers that I follow that have encouraged, inspired and challenged me. May this beautiful post by Carolyn Watts bless you this Mother’s Day. Here an excerpt with the link to the whole post:
God’s mothering is not something I thought much about until the last decade or so. In Scripture, God is so prominently Father that it’s easy for God’s mothering to get lost. But God’s mothering is there, written into Scripture right from the beginning . . .
For ten years, I listened daily to heartbeats. Heartbeats of babies as they were formed in the darkness. Heartbeats of their mothers, too, dreams and fears and longings. I was on holy ground, witness to the quiet creation of new life.
Ten more years have passed since illness began to keep me out of the clinic. I no longer use a stethoscope or an ultrasound machine. But still I listen. Sometimes I hear only the whisper of my own heart, the urgent longing to be fully alive. I hear that cry deep in the groans and prayers and laughter of others too.
But when I’m given the grace to be still, when the noise without and within is quieted, I hear the heartbeat of the One who knit me together and placed in me this longing for Life and Freedom. He whispers “come,” “rest,” “be whole.” He reminds me who He is and who I am. Again I find myself on holy ground, witness to the growing of new life within.
THE SCHOOL AND WORK DETAILS
Six months after I finished my training as an obstetrician/gynaecologist, I moved to Pakistan, then on to Afghanistan where I lived for over four years, working in a little mud-brick hospital and clinic high up in the mountains (picture no running water, no xray machine, but lines and lines of beautiful and courageous – and needy – people to serve).
Then I gotsick. Hardly-able-to-get-out-of-bed sick. I was diagnosed (in a way only God could have orchestrated) with a chronic illness that had gone undiagnosed since my teens. Months of rest and good treatment didn’t solve the problem and, three years after returning home from Afghanistan, I gave up my licence to practice medicine.
Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offeringin a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.
Over 20 years ago I had a dream that is still crystal clear in my mind today. In the dream, I was carrying a baby, and walking through a church parking lot. Standing under the awning at the Church’s entrance was an older man who was singing this song:
I will pour on you
the oil of gladness in the morning,
I will pour on you
the oil of my joy.
I will burn off all the dross
Stir up what remains
And I will pour on you
the oil of my joy.
As the man sang, it was the most beautiful voice that I had ever heard, and somehow I knew it was an angel singing God’s own song over me. However, I barely paused to listen and hurried on my way to complete my task. In the dream I returned to the parking lot, still carrying the baby, and as I walked past, the man was still singing the Father’s song over me. And then I awoke.
All these years later, I recognize the voice of my Father calling me to come with Him, to allow Him to pour out His oil over me. He has stilled my busy caring and serving, and I have been brought to a place of rest at His feet. Yet, even in the resting, the pain and fatigue have threatened to steal every drop of joy that I have known. In the instinctive reaction to physical pain, there are days that my arms are curled into my side, hunching my shoulders and neck into a place of self-protection.
The spasmed fascia in my neck shows how that hunching and curling has contributed to yet more pain. Last week as the physical therapist gave my neck and spine the gentle prodding and stretching that is part of the Myofascial Technique, suddenly I realized my arms were pulling up to my chest as a flaring of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain in my wrists was triggered. But in that jerking, the Lord of Love brought a release.
“Offer the pain up to Me now,” He invited. And He reminded me of the word that He has been speaking to me all summer: Incense.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8 NIV
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:3-4 NIV
As I thought about the incense and the prayers of the saints, and as I thought about the anointing oil, neither the incense nor the oil was created without pain. The spices for both were ingredients that were scraped, chiseled or gathered from various trees and herbs. They were then crushed, and pounded, and boiled through a distillation process to remove the dross before they were finally pure enough to be used for the proper purposes. (You can read more in Exodus 20 for the Lord’s specific instructions.)
I have become acquainted with crushing and burning and boiling away the dross of my life.
During the time when that dream was first given, I was deeply burdened and interceding for dear ones in a former church. Some of that intercession was never acknowledged, in fact, it was rejected and spurned. I returned my prayers back to the Father, and found forgiveness for those who had rejected me. But I never understood that the pain could be offered as a gift also.
I tucked the pain down deep, moved on, and asked God to show me His next steps in my life. But the explanation of the setting for the dream was never fully understood until just this week when these verses came to mind:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 ESV
Truly, those prayers that I carried felt like a kind of labor pain, Holy Spirit birthed praying. And through all those years of serving and praying, I carried those babies–those prayers–close to my heart. It was a natural, instinctive reaction to the pain that I felt. But the Lord now whispered a gentle invitation to me from within my place of resting here:
Offer that labor pain, that baby, up to Me now, letting My Holy Spirit carry the incense of your prayers to Me fully. Allow My Holy Spirit to carry what you were never meant to hold onto. The pain is too heavy, it will always leave you hunched and curled. But I will pour my oil of joy on you as you release the incense of your prayers and pain.
The prayers of God’s people
The smoke of incense wafted
The Holy of Holies curtained
The priest in anointing oil
Entered the curtained room
Cloud of incense fragrance
And the Father sang His song over His people.
As the fragrance of our Savior
the offering of His pain
the prayer that rescued our souls.
His blood shed for me.
His pain borne for mine.
My pain and prayers lifted as
Fragrance wafting with Savior’s
Gift of rescue now
And the Father sings His song over His people.
My heart now covered in oil
Enters into His Holiest Heart
Cloud of incense fragrance
The oil of HIS joy is pouring.
And while the Father has been singing His song over me, He has been pulling the pain up from those hunched over places. His oil of joy has been seeping into every hunched and curled place.
Are you acquainted with crushing and pounding and hunching and curling?
Could you hear the Father asking of you the same thing He has been asking of me?
Sing with Me here. The pain and prayers have always been woven together, and I long to hear your voice singing with mine.
From within my own place of weakness here, I offer His song back to Him now, and I ask Him to bring to you the blessing of His oil of joy flowing over you:
We come before You now confessing our weaknesses and seeing the dross that has accumulated. We long to lay down the pain that has been too heavy for us to carry. Will You open our hunched and curled arms to lift this incense up to Your Holy Spirit to carry now? Thank You for allowing us to join You in the prayers we have carried. Oh, but thank You that You see the weight that was never meant to stay on our shoulders. Receive the offering of this pain now. We give to You the prayers and the pain alike. Pour the oil of Your joy upon us now, as we rest within Your singing love.