The Oil Of Gilead
My friend and I were having coffee together a couple of weeks ago and during the conversation, she said, “I cannot wait to hold your new book in my hands and listen for the ‘crack’ as I open up the first page and start reading it.” Unbeknown to my friend, she had put words to the images I had in my head of the top of an oil jar being ‘cracked’ open as I recalled the still, small voice that had whispered to me when I was praying one morning that my debut book, ‘Wounded and on the Run: How the worst pain can lead you into your greatest calling’ which is to be released in just a few weeks, would reach many brokenhearted souls that so desperately needed the soothing, healing oil of Gilead running down from each page, pouring its healing balm into someone’s wounding as they ‘cracked’ opened the first page.
An internet search of what the Oil of Gilead meant and what it was, led me to discover that the etymology (that is the origin and source of a word) is borrowed from a word in Hebrew that means ‘heap [of stones] of testimony. Interestingly, in biblical times it is thought that a substance that came from a tree or a shrub beyond the Jordan was traded in the ancient world. Known as the Oil of Gilead, it held the power to soothe and heal. Oh my, I knew at that moment God was revealing to me that the testimony of my wounding was going to be the oil of Gilead for so many others who needed to become empowered and equipped, allowing Jesus to clean up their wounds with His scars and follow the blood trail He left at the cross.
As King Solomon writes in the first few lines of his poetic, passionate love story that starts off the book of Song of Songs, ‘Your presence releases a fragrance so pleasing – over and over poured out. For your lovely name is “Flowing Oil.” No wonder the brides-to-be adore you.’ The flowing, healing, oil of Gilead seeps and soothes into our wounds of disappointment, pain, brokenness and betrayal. The wounding that has left us running, leaving a blood trail behind for the hunter, Satan to track us down, searching us out time and time again because of the blood trail we have left behind us.
The hunter, Satan fires his arrows and bullets into our most vulnerable places, causing us to stay hidden within the shadows of our pain. The smear of our muddy pasts, the grief that has caused us to run at all costs, the shame that covers up our oozing, scabby wounds as best as we can, hiding them with whatever helps soothe the discomfort from facing ourselves keeps us running. And it is here in this moment, that you have longed to stop running in your forest of pain and just catch your breath, if only for a moment.
The prophet, Jeremiah speaks of healing oil as he longs for Judah to repent and change their ways, to stop running away from God and run toward Him. We read of the rebellious ways of God’s people as they are scattered and taken into exile, so Jeremiah cries out to God to bring his healing oil, ‘From within, a dark and cold hurt arises. From without, I am strangled by the horror of it all. Is there no healing medicine in Gilead, no balm that could help my people? Is there no physician who can help? Why is there no healing for the wounds inflicted on my people?’
The sweet-smelling oil of Gilead was used to heal wounds and it is the damage that bruised our tender souls and lacerated the relationship between ourselves and God that needs to be gently and carefully mended. In Genesis chapter 3, we read of God calling out to Adam, “Where are you?” and God asks us all the same question. “Where are you?” And the sting in the tail of a snake that we allowed to hoodwink us into thinking that going our own way was far better than following the Way, caused us to run away from God instead of running toward His loving, tender embrace.
As Kris Vallotton says, “most of us don’t even know who we are, because we haven’t stopped long enough to say hello to ourselves…if we don’t know who we are or how we are doing, how can we really share ourselves with others?” Hiding can make us forget who we are and Whose we are until we feel we will never find the light that will guide us home. So, we hide in the shadows hoping the pain will eventually go away.
As I share the message of my book, the scars I carry tend to take on a posture of brushing aside my testimony that is found within its pages. My go-to move of moving forward, of charging ahead toward the next book, the next project, or the next message that will help people in their own struggles of finding their way back to the Father’s heart need to pause. My dismissing position needs to stop taking the stance that the work is done, the words are written and the message is clear causing me to rush on to the next thing.
I see now that the oil of Gilead which this precious book carries needs me to just sit with you in your pain, at this moment. I know I cannot, shall not move on, not until I have guided others to find the Healer, the Comforter who shows us all so graciously His hole scarring on His hands and feet so that our wounds can be wholly healed. The One who pours the oil of Gilead straight from the heavenly jar as it soaks and saturates your soul with every ounce of His goodness, kindness, and grace.
‘So come with me if you will and picture a scene of a little wooden cabin in the forest with smoke smouldering out of a metal chimney poking through a grey slatted roof. Imagine the dappled rays of light peeking through the branches of the trees, as they shine their warmth on each petal of the colourful flowers adorning the window boxes neatly positioned either side of the front door. Take off your muddied shoes and make yourself at home as you pass under the sign above the door frame, that simply says, ‘Welcome’ and find a cosy chair in which to rest your weary soul. This shelter has been tenderly crafted for a wounded soul who is tired from the chase. It is my hope and prayer you will find rest within these pages, and that this is a place for you to catch your breath. Stop running, let Jesus touch your heart and work on your wounds from the inside out.1
Where are you today, dear friend? Hiding in shame because of your wounds?
I pray that Your oil of Gilead, Jesus, will pour from the pages of ‘Wounded And On The Run’ helping the wounded ones who have hidden for so long that they have forgotten who they are and more importantly, Whose they are. Tired from the arrows of affliction with which the hunter, Satan keeps firing, I pray that they will hear Your voice that calls the prodigal back home and heals their wounds with Your scars. Amen.
Reference 1 – Excerpt taken from ‘Wounded and On The Run: How The Worst Pain Can Lead You Into Your Greatest Calling’. Published by Daughters of Love & Light, Adelaide, South Australia. 2022.