Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Balm of Gilead

I have been suffering from a severe sinus infection and congestion for the last 7-10 days. Not only have I been ill, but my children as well.

So, yesterday, with the invitation from a well-meaning friend, I went to an apothecary of sorts. A little herbal pharmacy. There were herbs and salves, teas, books, dried and ground plants of every type. Many of them I had seen before, some I had not. On one of the large glass jars that lined the walls was written, "The Balm of Gilead". Now there was a name I was surprised to find. One whose spiritual implications I recognized, but one that I didn't know truly existed in physical form!

I stopped. And read it again. The Balm of Gilead!

In my mind, I remembered what God's word says about The Balm of Gilead:

Jer 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?

In the jar were little dried pods that looked a bit like hollow date pits. They were long and dark and brown. I marveled at them, their purpose, and inclusion amid so many other recognized healing agents. Among all the other glass jars, hundreds of them, in a clearly 'new age' store, was a picture of Christ.

I had ventured there in search for a cure, to learn a few things about natural medicinal remedies. But, a day later, I have learned something far more vital.

You see, my head remembered, but my heart had not. Distracted by the myriad of offerings, I returned the jar to the shelf and went on shopping. After making a few purchases, I left that store and went to another 'all natural' store to complete my collection of remedies. I even went to a third store when I had forgotten a few 'key' ingredients at my first two stops! I purchased teas, vials, oil, and various vitamins of all sorts. Thinking my healing could be bought from a store, I came home and promptly took each and every remedy.

You know what happened? I got worse.

My sickness increased, my throat became unbearably sore and rock hard, my sinuses swelled, my body began to ache. How, I wondered, can I take so many touted remedies and have an increase in illness? I was tired and defeated. Dry and weak, I went to bed and reflected on my experiences of the day.

I remembered seeing that large glass jar and its miraculous label. Then, I thought back to the Balm of Gilead, and who He really is. I realized that I never asked the Lord for His involvement and direction. I had recognized the miracle of there being a physical representation of His healing power on the shelf, but I didn't seek His face. I distractedly forgot my Lord and went on to buy whatever healing was for sale.

Repentant, and very sick, I cried out to the Lord. "Father, please forgive me for not coming first to You, my Jehovah-rapha, my Great Physician. Please forgive me for focusing on the healing power of what You have created, and failing to rely on the presence of my Creator to make it effective. Please heal my heart of its disease, and cleanse my body as well."

This morning I awoke a little healthier. I am still battling my physical illness, but I have gained a spiritual perspective.

You see, God provided something physical, something tangible and real, to teach me a very valuable lesson. It is the lesson of Asa, a king of Judah whose heart was not fully devoted to the Lord.

2Ch 16:12
And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.
2Ch 16:13
So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.
2Ch 16:14
They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments. They made a very great burning for him.

A mixture of ointments! How ironic. That which could not save his physical life is what accompanied his body in death. He never sought the Lord, but only what man could offer of His creation. He was buried with his folly. How effectively this scripture revealed the folly of my own life.

Now, don't get me wrong. I came home prepared to mix a special tincture for the remedy of my children's ear infections. It was the first time I had taken on the creation of such a concoction on my own and, interestingly enough, it also took overnight. :-)

I was reluctant, to be honest, to put forth the effort. But with the mid-night change of heart the Lord graciously gave me and seeing the product of adding certain healing agents together today, I have in a way become convinced in their effectiveness of being just that, an agent.

Natural remedies are simply things the Lord has created. We are among them, part of that same creation, our origin is God. No salve or herb can make our bodies last forever. Using natural remedies may increase the quality of our lives, but only one thing can guarantee true life, the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Only a true and vibrant relationship, one with a heart fully devoted to a worthy God, can bring wholeness and wellness. This spiritual truth applies physically because all creation testifies to His faithfulness and His desire to be known by us. Now I know why these natural sources of health are so effective. They were created by the Lord for our physical healing and wellness. They are just an example of how Jesus Christ lives to provide the Way, the Truth, and the Light for our eternal wholeness. God has provided for our spiritual wellness just as He has for our physical bodies. The only reason earthly remedies have any power at all is because they are what God made them to be, examples of God's desire for restoration. It is His will and power that creates or destroys. He alone brings illness or health.

Deu 32:39
'Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.

It is He that I need to first approach when I am in need of healing or help. Graciously, He is teaching me this lesson and reminding me that He is always there to warm me, to bind my wounds. He desires such intimacy with us.

Psa 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

Thank You Father, for your hand in my life today. Thank you for teaching me so gently and generously that I don't need to go searching for what can bought for relief or nor do I have to rely on self-provision. You are ready to do a great and mighty work in my life. Thank you for the healing knowledge of You, the true Balm of Gilead.

Psalm 103:
Praise for the Lord's Mercies
A Psalm of David.

less the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!