ANOINTING

spreadthewordnotgossip.comThe scorched expanse of our life-weary existence is in need of something. Whether it be depression, discouragement, selfishness, gossip, envy or pride; what do you let in?
Something seemingly small can be deadly.

He was a young child, barely six when the family decided to gather and reunite with long lost cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. The farm house in Nebraska could handle all of them. The children were shepherded to the basement to their sleeping bags for the evening. After all the giggles and jokes subsided, the children fell deep into sleep. A tiny beetle made its way into the one child’s unsuspecting ear canal and immediately jolted him out of sleep. His screams awakened all the other children as he ran up the stairs to find his mother. Confusion, pain, the scampering and clawing of those tiny beetle feet in a place they should never be.
When he calmed down enough, through sobs he explained there had to be a bug in his ear. No one believed him, yet he knew it. It was driving him mad. The torture, the unbelief, the exasperation, exhaustion; he was banging his head as though it was just water in his ear from a long day of swimming, but it was much, much worse. Like claws across a blackboard, the beetle was scampering the soft tissue; frightened and near insanity, he gave in.–After the adults found a children’s cold medicine to soothe him and his mother lay by his side, wiping his forehead with a cool cloth, she whispered prayers to his tormented heart.
It was just minutes after the child lay down, temporarily calmed by the medicine and the willing of his mother that she became the sole witness to the departure of the tiny beetle; which she instantly killed.

“You prepare a table in front of me, in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
To anoint usually means to set apart as special—like a gift to God. It also is a term often used in healing.

Back in the day, a shepherd was one of the lowliest of professions (not that it has gained much since!), but it was a dirty job. Working the night shift, tending those stupid animals, defending those silly sheep against thieves, robbers, predators; trying to herd them, protect them, and keep them safe. The tiniest of threats could actually kill a sheep. The nasal fly. That tiny pest could get inside the nostrils of the sheep, lay its eggs which developed into worms and eventually would drive the sheep to the point of banging its head against something to “get it out!” which most commonly lead to its (insanity!) and death.
I can’t even stand one bug buzzing about my ear, let alone it taking up camp in my nostrils and enlarging its family. Ugh.
A good shepherd would anoint the sheep’s head with oil (laced with some other healing ointments). These oils kept the flies from entering into the nostrils and ultimately protected the sheep from the tormentor that would make them “off” themselves.
The song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns states it so eloquently—“people never crumble in a day.”

Innocence blurs the lines of what we allow into our hearts and minds through our eyes, ears and societal influence. Also, as parents, friends, leaders, servants and human beings all subjected to these things, we are setting examples, leaving legacies and always being scrutinized for our choices. Check out a few of the verses:

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”
(some lyrics from Casting Crown’s “Slow Fade”)


Our Father looking down on us with love; forgiving for those “not-so-wise” choices we made.
And our Good Shepherd who anoints and protects our souls with the blood He shed on the cross. He has set us apart. When we are weary, rest is found in Him. When we weep, He comforts. When we are weak, He is our strength. When we thirst or hunger, He is our bubbling water of life and our manna for the day.

Today, I pray that no-thing is able to put a bug in your ear to distract you from seeking the Good Shepherd. I pray that no harm come near your home. I pray that nothing, no height nor depth, no demons or mean people, no distance, no depression, no death nor divorce shall ever separate you from the healing, anointing love that is found only in our Good Shepherd.

Haboob

Haboob and palms

I just went on a lovely spring run in the desert. It appears the entire desert is in bloom: prickly pears sporting purple petals, trees covered in blossoms of yellow, pink and white, bottle brush in red, and wild flowers bursting through the desert floor in a rainbow of colors. Scents of orange blossom waft through the air and a junior bunny rabbit crosses my path with its white tail bouncing behind it. This would all be wonderful, except a rare, rather blustery, spring breeze is also flowing through the valley of the sun and, it just so happens, I am having the worst allergy season of my life.
I wipe at my sand paper crusted eyes, and hold my breath as I pass a young man trimming all the desert foliage and further adding to the “particulate pollution.” As I look over to the McDowell mountains, the haze of pollens obstructs my view, reminding me of the “Claritin clear” commercial. It looks like a hazy old romantic photograph or a doctored up “glamour shot”—I can barely see the outline of the mountains against the sky. Seeing very few of the usual dog walkers and joggers, I am certain that, had I had watched the news, I am venturing out in a “HEALTH ADVISORY” kind of day.
As I plug along, determined to burn off last night’s carb’s, all these pollens trigger something in me besides a histamine response. I think of sin. How it can cloud our ability to see things clearly; our ability to see truth. How sometimes we don’t even know how bad it is for us or how slowly it has creeped up on us and invaded our lives. Suddenly we find ourselves “in it.”
The subtlety of sin is like pollen. Some have an immediate reaction to it. For others, it doesn’t seem to faze them. But it seems to be seeping into our culture.
When did this happen? When did kids stop saying the “pledge of allegiance in schools?” When did it become a “holiday party” instead of “Christmas celebration?” In a world with pornography at our fingertips, violence splashed unabashedly in nearly every movie, and the “F-word” as common in conversation as allergies in the desert, I think we are all under attack.
Casting Crown’s lyrics from “Slow Fade” tell a haunting tale:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”

When I first moved to the desert (some fifteen summers ago), I got sick: fever, chills, coughing, stuffy head, achy, etc., It lasted for days before I went to the doctor. No antibiotics for me. Diagnosis: Allergies. They told me everyone in Arizona either has them or will get them and I would just have to get used to it.
I didn’t accept that. A week later I still had the same symptoms. I got a second opinion. Antibiotics took care of it. After that, I took matters into my own hands. I exercised, ate right, took supplements and did what was in my power to stay healthy. I still occasionally will get ill. And, after fifteen summers, I now truly have those dreaded allergies. Some things are beyond our control.
Last summer, we had a record monsoon season. The term “haboob” became a part of every valley residents’ vocabulary. These massive walls of dust have been featured on national news and to see them coming toward you is very foreboding! Unlike the allergies and the winds blowing pollens, with haboobs at least you have a warning for these storms as they head at you like the wall of sand in “The Mummy.” I have just heard forecast of a possible haboob/dust storm for today.
Whether we are caught unawares in our sins or have had our lives disasters broadcast on national news, we don’t have to stay accept the slow fade of sin in our lives.
In Acts, The Bible tells of how Paul, a killer of Christians was transformed from his sins: “What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16)
We can come to the feet of Jesus, call out to Him and be washed clean of our sins and selfishness.
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Although sin surrounds us, we can take matters into our own hands:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Usually after one of these massive dust storms, the desert is drenched in a monsoonal downpour. The streets flood with muddy waters and by the next day, the evidence of the haboob has been washed clean. All that remains is the news story and pools of waters in the washes newly afloat with ducks and geese.
Like a spring rain in the desert, dousing the pollens in the air and replenishing reservoirs, Jesus renews our lives. He sprinkles refreshing, cleansing, purifying water that is new life flowing through us.
I hope you never get caught in a haboob. I hope you never suffer from allergies. Above all, I hope you choose to not accept the slow fade of sin in your life and you will make the call out to Jesus.