Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd was in good spirits, and at peace when I was with him this week.

Last week I mentioned watching the royal wedding.  One of the highlights of the wedding was the sermon by Rev. Michael Curry, an Episcopalian bishop from the US.  He didn't just deliver a message, he preached!  If you didn't watch the wedding, you may want to google his sermon.  It's well worth watching.  I showed it to Floyd.  He smiled, teared up, smiled some more - and was glued to watching it on my phone.  I knew he would love it!

I'm sure there's never been a royal wedding with a sermon like his.  For 13 minutes (not that long, but long for royal weddings) he spoke about Christ's love.  I kept thinking - this is being heard by millions around the world.  How awesome!  

He referred to a song - "There is a Balm in Gilead."  It's an African American spiritual sang by the slaves in the antebellum south in the midst of their captivity.  It's taken from Jeremiah 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?"  The slaves sang the song in reference to the saving power of Jesus - the one true ointment that heals our spiritual wounds.

The balm of Gilead was a rare perfume used medicinally.  It's named for the region of Gilead where it was produced - a mountainous region east of the Jordan river.  Miracles were attributed to this rare ointment.  It was prized for its healing power.  It was taken on trade caravans all over the known world.

Here are the words to the song…

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work's in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say, "He died for all."
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend;
And if you lack for knowledge, He’ll never refuse to lend.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

Since hearing the sermon, I find myself humming and singing the song.  And then I find myself praying for that balm in my life.  There are days when I need His healing balm to take pain away.  And other times I need His balm to pour strength into my life.  I often need His balm to lift sorrow from my heart.  Recently I've needed His balm to help me carry the stress that has been continually present.  His "balm" is a rich, healing gift to us.

As I've sang the song, I've pictured Him pouring His sweet smelling oil into my life, into my needs.  He "revives my soul again."  He heals my wounds.  And He meets me when I'm discouraged.  Jesus is the balm in Gilead.  He's the One who makes us whole.

There are so many difficulties, problems, needs that I've walked through on this unexpected journey.  I couldn't have managed without His balm being poured into my life over and over again.

I've learned that Jesus is the "balm" for every need I have.  I can call out to Him any time, day or night, and He is there to meet me.  His Word is a "balm" to my heart.  The promises, encouragements, and instruction of the Word minister into every situation that I face.  Worship is a "balm" to my soul.  As I choose to honor and praise Him in the midst of my trials, it releases healing into my needs.

"He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds."  Psalm 147:3

" 'I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the Lord."  Jeremiah 30:17

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."  Isaiah 40:29

"They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress."  Psalm 107:19

"The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles."  Psalm 34:17

" 'Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be my helper.'  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness."  Psalm 30:10,11

Oh how sweet His balm is that floods into our souls in our times of need!  I'm grateful that there is a "balm in Gilead."  Jesus is our balm of healing, hope, and strength.

I have a friend in England who always signs his letters and emails "In His Grip."  From the first time I saw that, it impacted me.  And during this unexpected journey when he has written words of encouragement, that salutation has been such a reminder to me that God "has me" - He won't let go!

When the storms of life blow through our lives - we're "in His grip."

When it seems our whole world is turned upside down with unexpected events - we're "in His grip."

When one difficult thing after another keeps bombarding us - we're "in His grip."

When we're so weak that just getting out of bed in the morning seems to take more energy than we have - we're "in His grip."

When we face decisions that seem like they're impossible to make - we're "in His grip."

When the responsibilities seem so much greater than we can cope with or know how to handle - we're "in His grip."

When the stress is so great that our bodies cry out for it to stop - we're "in His grip."

When sickness takes us so low that we don't know if we'll survive - we're "in His grip."

When weariness is so great that we're afraid we can't hang on - we're "in His grip."

When it feels like we're all alone, we're not - we're "in His grip."

He never, ever lets us go!  He holds on firmly to us even if our grip is slipping.  He is strong!  He doesn't grow weary.  He's not overwhelmed. He stays right by our side through whatever comes our way.  We're "in His grip!"

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38,39

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.' "  Isaiah 41:13

"The Lord will hold your hand, and if you stumble, you still won't fall."  Psalm 37:24

"Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."  Psalm 139:10

"You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me."  Psalm 18:35

I'm so grateful that I'm "in His grip."  I'm a strong person, but I daily need Him to take my hand and tell me that everything is going to be alright.  The nail scarred hands that once bled are now holding my hand through my trials.  Thank you Jesus!