This past week has been a hard and emotional one for our family unit because in the early hours of last Sunday morning at Dublin airport, we said our “goodbye’s for now” to each other as our son flew to Pasadena in the States where, in just over two weeks from now, he will start studying for his Masters in theology at Fuller Seminary.
And so another new shape comes into all our lives.
The older I get the shorter the gap between seasons of changes seems to be, and that’s okay for with each changing season I am reminded once more that, like an old song says, “this world is not my home I’m just a passing through.” (Jim Reeves) I am also thankful that I never face any of these changes on my own, and that God sees, God knows, and He has promised to be both guide and companion.
So why this “Balm of Gilead” pondering? Well during this adjusting for us all week, one morning, in a bit of a “cart before the horse fashion,” having firstly prayed the balm of Gilead over our souls, I then got to wondering exactly it is. I did an online search and, without quoting them in full the only three scriptures I found referenced were Genesis 37:25+ Jeremiah 8:22 + Jeremiah 46:11. Coupled with these references was some other information I’d like to share….
Firstly, the balm is still made today and remains a highly valuable ointment, sourced from an area called Gilead where the resin of the balsam poplar tree is collected when it seeps out of the tree during the summer months. To make a tree more productive, slits may be made in the tree bark, reminding me of how by His stripes we are healed.
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
What also touched my heart that morning are what uses the balm has…
Firstly it is used as a diuretic, a medication used to reduce swelling caused by gathered fluid, sometimes in the lower limbs and also often around the heart which then causes the heart to then function inefficiently. I love that picture! I love the idea of the Father encouraging us to allow our tears to fall, knowing that if we don’t our hearts won’t function at full capacity. In fact, our tears are so precious to Him that He records each one and gathers them in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8) I also think that when in times of sorrow we allow Him to come alongside, that by allowing Him to pour His balm over our souls, we get to glimpse a measure of the Fathers broken heart for ours, and others too of course.
Without expanding on them, some other uses of the balm of Gilead are:
It smoothes wrinkles from the skin. (Oily of Ulay out, Balm of Gilead in eh ladies!) It is used to eliminate pain. It’s used to reduce inflammation. It can be used to detoxify the body, as a protection for the immune system, and the lastly it’s often used as a perfume.
Can I suggest that you take any, or all, of the above, and use them as a pondering thought today?
Are you in pain, weary of the world, needing to come apart to detoxify? Go to Him. Are you needing to be armoured up as a protection for your spiritual immune system? Go to Him. Are you feeling like your heart isn’t functioning properly and you need to allow yourself to just be and to let those held in tears fall? Go to Him. This day in whatever way you need it why not allow Him to pour His balm of Gilead over your soul, so that then when you go out you’ll be a fragrance of Christ for others? His presence is always our answer, so, Go to Him.
And so we pray….
“Father your word never ceases to both amaze and comfort us. Thank you for your Holy Spirit nudges given to encourage us to stop and ponder it. Once again, we thank you that your delight is to Shepherd us, to take us as just you find and to then shape and reshape us with your Potters hands. In the ever present reality of changing seasons in our lives, make us wise this day then to come apart, to sit with you, and if needs be, to allow tears fall in your presence, and to then allow you then pour your calming balm of Gilead into and over our souls. All this we pray in Jesus name, by whose stripes we are made whole.”
Yours in Him,