One fine culinary day some months back, I was strangely excited to open an Amazon box and find a bag of gray stuff for my kitchen. I am hesitant to inform you that the bag was a bag of salt, because it may be that your reaction was the same as mine when I thought about salt that I personally consumed being gray. However, I was enthusiastically informed by my wise and trusted sister that the gray color meant that the salt was full of amazing nutrients and that it was basically modern-day pixie dust just waiting to be magically sprinkled on every imaginable recipe. (You know for sure that your sister has an anointing from God when she has the ability to get you excited about gray salt.) Excited, but still wishing that pixie dust didn’t have to be gray, I prepared to use it in an upcoming recipe. All was going smoothly until I put the dish in the oven and prepared to clean the kitchen. I was wiping the counters and all of sudden my pixie dust sea salt painfully told me that I had a forgotten paper cut on my finger. I got to the sink as fast as I could and turned on the water, trying hard to rinse out every last painful and suddenly not very attractive speck of salt. I stood there for several minutes, waiting for the water to wash it. And as I waited, I remembered something God had told me about wounds…
I found myself some time ago in the midst of a very hurtful and confusing situation. I was surprised to be stuck in the middle of it; it was not my choice to be there and I really wasn’t sure what the best solution was. It was not something that was going to be nice and neat. It was messy and it was hard. As I cried out to the Lord, asking for His wisdom, He gave me one word.
“Oil. Pour on oil.”
It’s as if all of us carry a jar of those things that we deem appropriate responses. When something happens, we pour on the thing that we think is the answer. We want answers. We want solutions. We want resolution. So we try to instruct and teach and logic our way through the messiness. We don’t just do this to others; we do it to ourselves. We make assumptions (so dangerous to do) and form opinions and respond accordingly. We become extremely adept at the art of picking apart other people under the guise of helping them, helping the situation, or helping ourselves.
But we are the salt of the earth. Shouldn’t the salt be salty?
When the infamous traveler on his way to Jericho was stripped of his clothing by thieves and then severely wounded there were a lot of things that might have come to the minds and mouths of those who passed by.
“He shouldn’t have been going that way in the first place.”
“If he had started earlier in the day, he would have made it.”
“No one in their right minds travels this way alone. What was he thinking?!”
None of these things really mattered, although all of them may well have been true.
The thing that mattered was this:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.”
Why not the salt of good answers and logic and instruction and correction? The reason why is very simple. Salt does not belong in a wound. When I accidentally brushed up against some salt with my paper-cut finger, all I could think was, “Get it out!” It was not attractive, it was not helpful, and it did not make me want more salt at all. Salt and oil are both nourishing but they belong in very different places.
Oil soothes. Oil heals. Oil nourishes. Oil calms. And perhaps most amazing of all, oil anoints. When God wanted to foreshadow His power resting on a life, he instructed that the person be anointed with oil. It was a mark of His blessing, His goodness, His supernatural plan unfolding. What I believe with all my heart is this: When you choose to pour oil on something difficult, you are inviting the supernatural power of Jesus into that situation to anoint it. When something is so difficult that the efforts of human hands and human solutions would only mar it, pour oil. When you are at the end of all of your salty solutions, pour oil. When you would rather pass by the wounded because frankly they are a little too messy to be convenient, pour oil. And even if someone has poured salt all over you in places where it did not belong, pour oil. When you think you don’t have any oil left, pour oil.
Again, and again, and again.
And I promise, just like the widow who by faith poured out the last of her precious, life-saving oil in order to make bread for Elijah while she and her son faced a certain death by famine….
God will fill your jugs back up. He will come to you. He will rush to you. He will fill you. He will heal you. He will nourish you. He will wash away the misplaced salt and He will close the wounds.
And when you are well, and those around you are well, and you are sitting at the table of love, feasting on His goodness and His grace and His lovingkindness, you will look at each other and you will smile and say,
“Please pass the salt.”
1 Kings 17:8-16