Back from summer break! We delve right back into Abram’s story. He is back from defeating the king of Elam and all his allies. He rescued the captives and returned them home without seeking so much as a reward for it. Now he’s home and the eyes of his neighbors were on him while Abram continued being solid as a rock. Unshakable in his beliefs, unafraid of the future, unwavering in his faith. Or…was he?
If you feel a bit burnt out this is actually an episode for you. There is a message that God gave Abram at this point of his life that you also need to hear.
The flower of the week is the lemongrass. Find lemongrass essential oil blends for at https://feelsandflowers.com/featured-flowers/lemongrass/
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak… We are far too easily pleased – C.S. Lewis
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Hi, Welcome to Feels and Flowers, Your antidote to toxic Christianity where we seek to discover the character of God through our chapter-by-chapter exploration of the Bible. I am your host, Paula Perez.
So last episode I said some pretty heavy stuff. As a parting shot I challenged Christianity and Christians to use our voice, and even our own privilege, for good and to take the first step in establishing the kingdom of God on this earth by speaking up on behalf of those who are oppressed, even if we don’t 100% agree with their politics, religion, or what have you.
After that I went silent, an entire summer passed by and here I am again. What did I do? Not much, really. I went through the stages of grief each time a new calamity happened. Lather, rinse, repeat times 20.
So yeah, it’s been a little tough. It IS 2020, and just in case you haven’t noticed there is an oversaturation of articles, opinion pieces, memes, tweets, videos and the like heaping troublesome news on top of troublesome news. But I really don’t want to tell you again to jump into the fray and take action.… I already did that last episode. I am sure that you are already doing what you can to minister to others around you and are countering injustice and ignorance in whatever way you can.
What I want to do this episode is quite different. I want to address the you who is or is dangerously close to being burnt out.
Today, I am assuming that your soul needs refreshment and that you, like I, need to take off your armor for a bit and just breathe for a moment. In this little window of time, let’s quiet the distractions and the chaos outside and wait and listen for that still small voice of God, who despite everything, is there and has been there all along.
But before we hear what that still small voice is saying, let’s have our Featured Flower segment, which in this week’s case is not a flower but a grass. Lemongrass!
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Lemongrass originated somewhere in South East Asia. Possibly Malaysia though some scientists have traced it to India. Whatever the case, the fleshy white base of Lemongrass is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine to flavor beverages, dishes, and baked goods. Lemongrass also has a long history of cosmetic and medicinal use among many cultures. It has been used to treat ailments such as digestive complaints, fever, menstrual discomfort, pain, inflammation, and nervous and emotional disorders.
The benefits of lemongrass can be enjoyed either via a good lemongrass tea or through essential oils. Find out more about that at the featured flower section over at FeelsAndFlowers.com and learn my favorite ways to use Lemongrass essential oil at the end of the show.
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I first learned the word Stasis as a teen watching a movie set in outer space. Because intergalactic travel deals with so many thousands of light years, humans in this movie relied on cryogenic sleep to keep their bodies in stasis, or a form of deep hybernation, that preserved their bodies for years and years until they reached their destination. After a long time the travelers reached their destination and they were roused from their state of stasis, awaking in time to see the bright sunrise of their new home planet.
Stasis, then, is a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.
But strangely enough, it can ALSO mean unrest, especially civil unrest.
The foremost example of stasis as a word for unrest comes from the time when ancient Greece was actually a collection of independent city states, and these cities would periodically go through unrest when opposing groups of citizens fought over control of the city or when there were social and economic problems in the city state and everything just went to hell as people deposed the current ruler or ruling faction in favor of another.
I’ve been pretty fixated on this concept of peace and conflict, equilibrium and disruption. Stasis. How strange that the same word can be applied to two opposing things.
That’s the duality of our lives at the moment. For many of us our lives and plans have been upended, while for others it’s just the same old work grind but with added uncertainty. No one is having it easy these days.
You know who also isn’t having it easy? Abram.
That’s right. We are back to Genesis, this time chapter 15. We left off Abram after returning victorious from fighting against the King of Elam and all his allies. And so, once his mission of rescuing his nephew Lot complete, he returned home.
At this interesting point of life, Abram is waiting for the fulfillment of a promise that God had made him: that he would be a great nation and that the land of Canaan would be his descendants’. Though he is childless and living as a foreigner in tents, he lives day by day doing his best to be a faithful representative of God where he resides. The people around him are able to see just how God blesses those who honor his name.
His neighbors have just witnessed how those who honor a God of justice and love put all their righteous beliefs into action by rescuing captives without seeking so much as a reward for it. And so the eyes of his neighbors were on him while Abram continued being solid as a rock. Unshakable in his beliefs, unafraid of the future, unwavering in his faith.
Or was he? Genesis 15 says…
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
No one but Abraham knew the truth, That he was clinging on with desperation to the promise that he’d have a son and a permanent homeland. and God only knew that Abram would still have to wait another 15 years before the promised child was born. And now after fighting the king of Elam and his allies, Abram’s was restless with waiting for the fulfillment of the promise as well as bracing for his foes to retaliate and strike against him.
Abram was in a period of Stasis. In his personal life there was no real progress and no real aim other than growing richer, getting along with his neighbors…and all for what? For him to die in the end and leave all his worldly goods off to a servant? I mean, Eliazar WAS faithful and he’d been working for Abram all his life, but a faithful servant is no good replacement for a son who is of your own flesh and blood.
And then of course was the external threat of conflict with other nations.
It is no wonder then that Abram’s fears, desires, and longings all got caught up to such an extent that God had to come to him in a vision to comfort him. In fact it is the very first time in the Bible where we see the phrase “The Word of God Spoke.” From here on out this phrase is used throughout the Bible to denote when God speaks to his servants the prophets. And the message God had for Abraham is for you and me too.
I have a startling confession to make. There were many times in my life where I wish I had conducted it differently. Occasions when I wish I had seen the world as a non-believer would, rather than as an overzealous child of the Kingdom of God tends to do.
For a Christian podcast, this sounds awful, but I promise I’ll explain. Just bear with me for a bit.
When I graduated from college I had next to no work experience, hardly any connections, and nothing much to help me in a job search besides a stellar GPA and an engineering degree from a State University. Starry eyed. Full of potential. Optimistic. I remember I told you that I had the help of a career coach to help me my job search, well she was Christian too, and as we talked I said to her that what I wanted most in life was to be a faithful servant of God and do His will, and if Jesus himself showed up in front of me and told me to go somewhere, I would–without a single thought or shadow of doubt–go where he sent me and do what he told me to do. And I wholeheartedly meant it.
As time went on and I was unable to get a job due to the peculiar circumstance of not having a work permit to work in the US, driver’s license, or a car, I felt more and more frustrated. Not only that, I began to doubt myself, my intelligence, my very purpose in God’s great plan. When I lost that sense of purpose, the only thing that I thought gave my life worth, I lost my idealism and sunny outlook on my future as the months wore on.
If I had been a non-Christian who does not believe that our lives are closely tied to the supernatural, I would have pretty bummed out, but I wouldn’t have put so much weight on the meaning behind my prolonged period of unemployment. I would have probably persisted and pushed and clawed my way into a job. ANY JOB. After all, a job is not a mission field. It’s just the place you go to make money and advance your career.
INSTEAD, Because I was convinced that God was behind every. Single. Minute. Circumstance of life, I was also 100% convinced that there had to be a reason why I was experiencing this.
Many of us devout and God-fearing Christians are of the belief that almighty God is behind everything that happens to us: everything good, and alarmingly, everything bad.
This is a terrifying thought.
Scripture says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
In my narrow view of God, I equated things not going well as a consequence of me falling short in some way or another. A failing of mine. Maybe I had outlived my usefulness? And in the dead of night my fears came to a head and I began to contemplate something even worse…. Maybe it was a failing of God. Maybe he’d run out of patience with me. Maybe I had misstepped somewhere and his anointing had been revoked and God had moved on to someone else?
Pretty toxic, huh?
The truth is life sometimes just happens, and we are so self-centered that we think that EVERYTHING has a reason and that God is behind all the good and the bad you experience. But rain falls on the just and the unjust. You are not forgotten by him, you are not cast out by Him. When this happens, remind yourself that it’s just another day on this spinning blue marble called Earth.
Listen. Every day we have is meant to bring us one step closer to the threshold of eternity, so make sure that you’re going in the right direction, even when it’s yet another day spent scanning the job listings or going out to get groceries and disinfecting your produce. Yes, even on the most mundane day, your life is still precious and holy no matter where you go because there is God inside you.
If you are encountering setbacks and prolonged periods when you feel like all you are doing is treading water in the ordinariness of life. Believe in his promises, exercise and persevere in faith.
So, my friend and fellow servant of God, the Word of God comes to us each time we seek Him and today it reminds you to believe in Him and believe His promises.
Believe that God is your shield and your reward just as he promised to be that for Abram, so he promises to be for you too.
When everything is still and you can’t move forward or backward and all you have to keep you going in the uneventful every day is the faint memory of that time when you accepted God’s call– that’s when you need Genesis 15:1.
Whenever you feel like your resolve to follow Christ is slipping you need Genesis 15:1.
Whenever you feel like the fulfillment of the promises seems a long way off, you need Genesis 15:1
Whenever your doubt leads you to feel that the potential that is within you is turning into poison. You need Genesis 15:1.
For such a time when you are experiencing external upheaval and you feel a twinge of fear about the future, God wants to tell you that your life is safe in his hands. He will keep your enemies away and cover you with his wings if you ever come under threat of violence.
For such a time when you feel like you feel dead inside, drained, and like you’ve run out of possibilities. Whenever you’re experiencing internal stagnation, God literally says: I am thy reward, exceeding abundantly. His message for you is to keep going, keep believing, keep pressing on to that reward.
What is the reward you are looking forward to? Chances are, they are nothing to what God is prepared to give you.
Abram had a son in mind. God had a royal lineage in mind, through which the Son of God would come to save humanity. Abram had the land of Canaan in mind. God had the entire world in mind to give him.
You and I can’t want the blessings of God and the fulfillment of all the promises any more than God does, just as Abram couldn’t want a child and his own land more than God did.
I am reminded of a classic C.S. Lewis quote that addresses how so often we turn away from what heaven has to offer because we decide that in the end the temporal things of the present distract us from the riches of the rewards God has in store for us.
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Genesis 15:1 reminds us that With God, we have everything. More than we even hope for.
He that loves and trusts God possesses God.
He that possesses God has Infinite Joy.
If you’ve reached this far, thank you for listening.
As promised, before leaving I’d love to tell you my favorite use of Lemongrass essential Oil and it is as part of a blend that I mix up every summer to ward off mosquitoes. I also add a tiny little bit to diffusion blends, and finally, when it gets way too hot I mist myself with a blend of lemongrass and bergamot dissolved in water. [You’ll need an emulsifier for this.]
You can find more about this essential oil and many others at feelsandflowers.com. Additionally I place in the post for this episode a semi-accurate transcript, additional links, and media that you may find helpful.
Send me flowers! If you’d like a shoutout or you just want to say hi, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also follow me on IG: @feelsandflowerspodcast and Twitter @feelsandflowers. If you enjoy Feels and Flowers please be sure to leave a rating and subscribe on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast platform you use. That would really help a lot.
Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.