Oil From the Flinty Crag

The garden center had called to let us know that they would deliver our garden bushes early the next morning. In order to help with lowering the risk of transplant shock, they recommended that we have the holes prepared for the bushes, so they could help us plant them quickly and safely. So my strong, late-teen son and I headed outside with shovel and spade in hand.

Several months into this new home, we were still unaccustomed to working on our own property. Having only rented, or stayed in the homes of others, for the first 26 years of our marriage, our family still felt like we needed to tread carefully on ground that couldn’t possibly belong to us. The sloping yard required extra care to keep the water draining away from our home. So in an effort to help with that, and in a move to develop some pretty screening at the edge of our lot line, I had researched the benefits of creating a small “rain garden” and a “french tile” drainage system.  We had been busy digging the ways for all of these, and on many days my son grew tired of my calls for help.

However, this digging venture proved to uncover something more fascinating than just a hole in the ground. As our shovels struck against countless river rocks, we would pause to remove stone after stone. Until the moment the shovel hit something different. A spark flew into the air in front of us, and we both jumped back. At the next strike, it happened again, and we both looked in shock as the dirt fell away from a large flint deposit in our ground.  With no time to pause, we removed the rocks to the best of our ability, hoping to finish before dark so that we would be ready for the gardeners’ delivery the next morning.

But after the holes were finished, and I went inside, I searched out my journals for the Scriptures the Lord had given me before we purchased this home.  And there it was:

 

He made him ride on the heights of the land
and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock,
and with oil from the flinty crag, Deuteronomy 32:13 NIV

 

And while we had been busily clearing away cart after cart of underbrush and tangled thorny vines, the Lord reminded me of the other verses that had been a deep promise to us:

 

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever. Isaiah 55:12-13

 

Now, 14 years later, I opened my journals again to read the promise the Lord had taken deeper on that day of the flint-digging:

The ground here is filled with rocks and flint deposits, but we are taking out the thorns and briers, and digging holes in the very flinty rock to bring forth good plants with the proper water and beauty and joy:  HIS OIL OF JOY.

As I pondered that long-ago promise, and those Scriptures, I asked the Lord about the oil that was to come from the flinty ground.  How did that oil fit into our years of living here? Why was that flinty ground so important? So I researched again, and found these notes from Benson’s Commentary:

 

“To suck honey out of the rock — Placed him in a country where honey flowed from the very rocks, the bees making it in the holes thereof, or in the hollow trees that grew upon or among the rocks. Oil out of the flinty rocks — Olive-trees growing and bearing fruit best in rocky or hilly places. The expressions are proverbial, and denote a most fertile land.”

 

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Could it really be possible that in these years of digging holes, and planting, and growing, in a hilly land that has felt so impossible to care for, God has planned a most beautiful object lesson?

 

In these years of thorny underbrush, and hard rocks, has there come a crop of oil that has trickled through the softened soil of my heart?

Through these years of planted prayers, and watered Words, has God been reaping His own harvest of JOY for me and those I love?

 

Not too many years after planting those first bushes, our daughter graduated from our Homeschool Highschool, that teenage son who dug the holes moved away to college where he met his wife, and our oldest son traveled to Vietnam where He met his wife. The questions were raised to me then, “So, what are you going to do with your days? Where will you work now?”  I stumbled with an answer, while I sought the Lord for His. But what He gave me wasn’t what I expected:

Your work is your prayer. Lift your days up to ME and I will fill them.

And so I did, one rock at a time. Weeding the garden and praying for the burdens. Walking the neighborhood and meeting weary souls. Driving my neighbor and listening to her stories. Picking up the phone and interceding with a friend. And all the while, as I was moving stones, God was breaking up the ground of my heart, and planting the olive trees for HIS oil to flow.

And one day, in the midst of a slowed-down way of life brought on by Chronic Illness, I looked up to my Lord and saw the honey in His hand. He had been feeding me all along, nourishing my soul as I let Him pour the oil out to share with those I loved.

 

Oh Beloved friend, have you been removing rock after rock? Have you been busy cutting away the thorny briers?  Can you pause long enough to hear His promise being spoken over your heart?  There is oil that can only come from those rocky wind-swept places.  There is honey to be tasted that only He can give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your purposes that You have set in motion even before time began. Thank You that You have planted us in Your own dear garden. Will You have free reign in our hearts to remove the thorny briers, and flinty rocks? Will You show us the plantings that You have begun in these hard and hilly places? Open our eyes to see the oil that even now is beginning to flow. We want to taste YOUR Joy, the Joy of the Lord. Thank You that Your own Dear Son has won the gift even for us.

In the Name of Jesus we pray,

Amen.

 

 

 

(And for those of you who are wondering–yes, I did add a piece of that flint to my rock collection!)

 

I am linking with:

#LMMLinkup

#Teaandword

#Tellhisstory

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “Oil From the Flinty Crag

  1. Good morning dear Bettie, what amazing ways He loves us! Your story of digging and seeing the after fruits is a powerful image. I can relate to a slower pace, more intercession, more writing and learning. At times He appoints, He pours out of me. Thank you, Jesus. Have a beauty-full Monday my sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning to you also, Julie! Yes, our Lord is so powerful in the midst of our days, but you are right that often we need to have a slower pace to hear from Him. I will pray for you in your walk of intercession, more writing, and learning. May He continue to pour Himself out on you. I have appreciated the beauty that He gives you to share with us. Blessings dear sister!

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  2. “Your work is your prayer.” Oh, Bettie, you have certainly shown that in your faithfulness to pray. I think sometimes we forget the real work that prayer is and how important it is. thank you for reminding us that even when we aren’t physically able to work we can still do the very real work of prayer. I love how you used the planting and garden for this object lesson. There is so much we can learn from nature.
    The song reminds me of “The Tree Song” by Ken Medema and especially the arrangement by Evie. Love and hugs and blessings to you, my dear sister! xoxo

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    1. Dear Gayl, Oh I am so thankful that God brought this back to me again, that He sees our prayers as so important. I get it so upside down, and think that if I can’t be doing the “work” that I want to be doing, that it’s not valuable. But Jesus sees our heart, and what is there is so valuable to Him! He finds such precious ways to show us that, doesn’t He? Thank you for all of your prayers for me too, they have been so important during this time. And I love “The Tree Song” especially as Evie sings it. Thank you for that sweet memory. Love and hugs and blessings to you too my dear sister! xoxo

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  3. Beautiful, dear Bettie. How timely for me too. My oldest son and his sister restored order to my rock garden this weekend. Their help is freeing up time for me to write. It was their idea too. I miss being painfree enough to garden. But mostly I am thankful God is leading according to His will–not mine.
    Blessings – Wendy

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    1. Dear Wendy, I am so thankful that God knows the perfect timing for every thought that He sends to our hearts. What a gift for your kids to bless you with a gardening day. But I know that longing to get out and work ourselves. He does know what is best, and yes, the most beautiful gifts come from His leading and His will. Blessings, love, and prayers for you dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Anita,
      Oh yes, you are so right that there is no one-and-done project on this side of Heaven. He is bringing His beauty to us step-by-step, isn’t He? I love it when He gives us those glimpses here. It reminds me of all of those beautiful hummingbird photos that you have shared with us. What an amazing gift of encouragement from our Creator! He watches over every one of His children.

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  4. “There is oil that can only come from those rocky wind-swept places. There is honey to be tasted that only He can give.” I believe this, Bettie! I believe and pray and ask and seek and receive with you! Precious encouragement to my soul. #rockyplaces #oilandhoney #promise #Godisfaithful

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    1. Oh Dear Lisa, I have been so appreciative of your prayers along this way of rocky places in this season. We just don’t see all of the ways that God is working behind the scenes, do we? So very blessed to be praying and looking up along with you! God is so faithful!

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      1. Bettie, my friend, Marion wrote a Facebook post today about walking the rocky path. She is giving praise to God in testimony of how He has brought them finally to a home in TN which is beside the cool, still waters with rolling green hills. She made a point of stating the Shepherd leads on rocky paths to get us to the still water place of rest. Made me think of you… =)

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  5. Wow, such a fascinating tale you weave here, Bettie. Thanks for sharing these Biblical truths as well. Such an inspiration. I need to visit Tea & Word Tuesday more often. I got distracted with my insurance issues today, but it will work out. Thanks again for sharing. Have a wonderful week, and God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Horace,
      Yes, it’s so good when we can connect in these digital communities, isn’t it? God has such encouragement for us all to share with each other. I continue to keep you in my prayers, brother, that God is working through all of the trials that you face too. Your stories always bring such glory to HIM! Blessings to you!

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    1. Dear Lynn, thank you for your sweet comments. I am so grateful that God is the best gardener of all! Even in these years when my own work is so limited, He still shows great beauty through His creation here. And He does show us such grace-filled truth all around us. Blessings to you today!

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    1. Oh Donna, yes we were so shocked that day! My son was so fascinated to find that flint really would help to start those campfires! 🙂 But our God is so good to bring His Word home to us throughout all of our days. Blessings to you!

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    1. Oh yes, aren’t those truths explaining the setting of those Scriptures so faith-building? I love it when God gives us such intimate details to bring His Word home to us. Thanks for your lovely comments here. Blessings to you!

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  6. Hi Bettie! I love this beautiful reminder that God is always removing the “rocks” from our lives. He is so good! May we allow Him to fill our days with His goodness and grace! Saying a prayer for you today. Many blessings.

    Visiting you from last night’s #TellHisStory linkup. So sorry it took so long to stop by your wonderful blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Connie for your visit and lovely comments here! Sometimes I need to stretch out my link-up visits throughout the week, as my health allows, so I don’t think you are late at all. 🙂 Our Lord really is so good to continue to remove those rocks from our lives. I appreciate your prayers so much! Jesus is so good to us. May you see His goodness in your day also! Blessings!

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  7. Dear, sweet friend, I am in tears. Oh, this was food to my soul today! What a beautiful, beautiful post ~ so chock full of edification and encouragement in the weary battles I now face. You are such a dear blessing to me. How I thank God for your faithfulness to the call God has placed upon your life! Sending much love, gratitude, and blessings your way today!

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    1. Dear Cheryl,
      I am so, so thankful that the Lord brought encouragement to you here today. You have so often brought encouragement to me! Our Lord is so good to bring glimpses to us of the ways that He is working behind the scenes on our behalf. I am praying for you now, my dear friend, and asking the Lord to give you HIs own sweet honey from the rock there. Sending hugs, love, and blessings for you today!

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  8. Thank you for this beauty. God’s promises are exactly that and He fulfills them one by one. Your life lesson so many years ago came full circle as you looked back at your journals and sat with God in the quiet. Sometimes it takes years before we see the fruit of God’s promise that was always right in front of us. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Dear Mary,
      Those promises of God always bear fruit, don’t they? I love how you expressed that life lesson coming “full circle” as I looked back at my journals and sat in the quiet with the Lord. He has so much to say in those quiet moments, beauty that is right in front of us, but we so often miss it in our worries or complaints. I know that I have, at least! I’m so very thankful that He has brought His presence here in the slow season. Thank you for your sweet comments! Blessings and Hugs to you!

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  9. Oh what a beautiful and hope filled post! May we all be given the means to lift our eyes from the thorns and briars of our circumstances, the heavy rocks and stones that weigh down our hearts like lead, and may we anticipate more of this: “There is oil that can only come from those rocky wind-swept places. There is honey to be tasted that only He can give.” Thank you, Bettie, for revealing that oil and honey to me and to so many. We see it here, in the hand of love and friendship you freely extend, and in the intercessory prayer work you excel in by God’s grace. Blessings and hugs to you, dear friend! xoxo

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  10. Dear Joy,
    Oh I am so blessed by the words that God gave you here: “May we all be given the means to lift our eyes from the thorns and briars of our circumstances, the heavy rocks and stones that weigh down our hearts like lead,” Because even though the oil has been poured out so freely, there are days that I still find myself feeling that lead weight upon my shoulders. Praise God that HE does find ways to lift our eyes to Him. Even through a comment of my dear sister here. 🙂 Thank you so much for your always open heart that is so ready to share. God is so good to bring us His connections and encouragement as we walk this pathway. May you be blessed with His Love today my friend! xoxo

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