Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in praise of God opening her eyes to see by faith. By God’s grace, her eyes open to the Promise contained in the budding of her almond tree, in the midst of great pain and affliction. She also invites us to join her in a time of thanksgiving and prayer.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Luke 11:34 NIV 

This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush:

It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.

And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?

This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage, she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed, she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.

What do I know of that kind of uselessness?

How would I have borne that kind of suffering?

In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.

She chose 
Acceptance in the 
Pruning from her own 
Master Gardener and embraced 
HIS Light in the very place of her suffering.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” Philippians 1:29 NIV 

He Giveth More Grace (lyrics)

—Annie Johnson Flint

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

Would you join me in pausing to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us, and join me in prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,  

I thank you for the suffering that you bore for me. I rejoice in the salvation and grace that you won for me there.

And, now I ask that you would purify my eyes to see the light in my days and the Grace within my own suffering.

May I let you bring Joy from Pain and Beauty from Ashes, And may the Love you have granted sink deep into my soul, body, mind and spirit.

Amen.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This post was first published four years ago at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2017/03/30/he-gives-us-more-grace/ Since then, Bettie’s health has deteriorated significantly and yet the beauty and life of Christ is flourishing in and through her more and more, as she comforts others with the comfort the LORD is pouring out upon her.

Part 3: The Oil of Anointing

Welcome to Part 3 of Arise and Shine: The Oil of Anointing. Today, Bettie is opening part 3 with a devotional, including a poem and Spirit-led song she was gifted, as she shares what God showed her about the process required to make the anointing oil and its connection to Christ’s labor of love and our response to that.

Join us in the coming days and weeks for the chapters and daily free will offerings connected to the Oil of Anointing. We will be posting these as the LORD leads us.

Have you seen the beautiful plant called “Crown of Thorns?” It is a reliable bloomer that keeps me going through the garden-less days of winter. But just because it’s reliable, doesn’t mean it’s boring. I am always moved by the beauty that rests alongside the pain of this plant. Thorns are jagged along the whole stem, with hardly a space left open. But at the tip of each stem there rests such a fragile seeming, tender bloom. Will my own heart find tenderness alongside the pain? 

Crown of Thorns

Gentle thorns, I pray

Please don't blow the joy away

Let the blooms remain

And if you understand the Song of Solomon to be an allegory of the love story between our God and His People, then He sees us as that beautiful bloom:

“Him: Like a lily among thorns, that is what she is;

        my dear is a captivating beauty among the young women.” Song of Solomon 2:2

Oh, what a mystery is the Love of our Lord! Many years ago, during a particularly busy and overwhelming Season in my life, my Lord spoke this Spirit-led song over my heart in a dream:

"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."

At the time the song was given, I searched the Scriptures, and the historical processes for the Biblical anointing oil that was used by Moses.  And this is what I found in Exodus 30:20-25 (NIV):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil.  Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil 

Then to understand the process that the “work of a perfumer” would have gone through, I found these words by David Levy, in his book, The Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah:

“The anointing oil was made from a specific formula . . . Rabbinical sources state that Moses, having reduced the solid ingredients to powder, steeped them in water until all the aromatic qualities were drawn out. The olive oil was then poured into the ingredients and the water boiled out. The residue thus obtained was preserved in a vessel for use.” 

Where did those specific ingredients come from? Cinnamon, cassia, and calamus were gathered from the bark and leaves of fragrant plants. But myrhh—it’s a thorny plant that only releases its resin after a wounding is made to the bark. So, not only is the process of making the anointing oil a journey through drying, grinding, steeping, and boiling, but there is a wounding involved in the very first step of gathering.  

Dear one, are you facing a wounding in your life? Are you in a season of boiling stress? Or maybe you are facing the drying winds of a desert.  Rest assured, our Lord has already walked through the process that was required to birth the anointing oil that He, himself became for us. But He has called us His lily among the thorns. Are we ready to give our love, our anointing oil, back to Him?

My feet are aching

Here on this thorny road

Where pebbles prick my feet

Diseased and worn

I hobble through my days.


The oil given me

A healing balm I’m told

Will soothe the burning

And restore the movement

Illness took from me.


But I don’t see results

I cry when I am forced

To wait while others walk

And watch the path

Sit silent at my feet.


And yet

I pour the oil.


Another woman poured her oil

She wasted all her treasure

For ONE the world called

Foolish and meek

Anointing Him for burial.


A beautiful gift she gave

Poured from the wounding

In her heart

After the boiling of her pain

Had wrecked her heart for HIM.


God had set the plan

He had made the picture

Worship required Anointing

Anointing required oil

Born from a wounding and a scar.


Jesus dear Redeemer

You were that oil for me

After your own wounding

Pounded, dried and scourged

Blood drops squeezed so pure.


Now here am I at your feet

Broken, wounded, beaten

By diseases from this world

Yet from the thorn-touch here

You birth a lovely gift.


The oil of my wounding

Has become my sacrifice

Of praises never ending

Washing your feet with tears

Drying them with my hair.


You pull me to my feet

Your words for all to hear

From lips so full of love

What she has done so free

Eternity will call, Beautiful.

Chapter 1: Incense

Chapter 2: Goats’ Hair

Chapter 3: Aaron’s Budding Staff