Poured Out


When I lived in Portland, Oregon I ran each day at a large nature reserve near my home. One rare December day the sun came out and the temperature topped fifty degrees in the few hours of afternoon light. As I headed out on my trek I was amazed by the brilliance of the sun shining through the tops of the evergreen trees. As I neared the summit of Powell Butte, I found myself laughing as I realized that perhaps I was marveling in the beauty of the day simply because it had been so long since I had seen the sun! Then, on my decent down the mountain I noticed, for the first time, that many of the giant fir trees were growing out from the side of the mountain. The seedlings had fallen on a steep slope so in order for the tree to grow upright the trunk literally twisted at a sharp angel. I was fascinated at how much strength it would take for trees of that size to overcompensate for the slope. It appeared, in my human logic, that the trees were planted in the wrong place. If they had been seeded on level ground, they could have grown straight up to the sky. Then, it struck me that every single one of them was doing just that, growing straight up, even if the trunk had to turn at a forty-five-degree angle to make it happen. Trees always grow toward the sunshine regardless of the slope, terrain or gradient they are planted at. These massive trees towered almost one hundred feet into the air, yet they remain firmly planted year after year. Their root systems were extremely deep. They stand regardless of what comes against them and through whatever obstacles they face. They don’t question why they were planted in a place that would make their growth so difficult. They are resilient because of the adversity they have faced.

As I continued my run I thought of Jeremiah 17:7 which says,

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.

I continued to reflect on this passage for the remainder of the day and as I did, a dear friend, Lynn, came to my mind. Lynn is one of my dearest friends; she is also one of the women in my life that challenges me the most. She has walked a bitter and hard pathway. It appears as though The One who created her has planted her in the wrong place. The ring on her finger is one of betrayal and adultery. She understands the blessing of His presence like few women I have encountered. She knows, without a doubt, that she is His Beloved. Here, in her own words, is what she has learned about the reality of the blessed life.

"I have been rejected, used, betrayed and abused by people who were supposed to love me unconditionally and protect me. And yet, I walk as a woman extravagantly loved. I have been wooed by my Creator... by my King. I am so grateful for the pain and rejection I have experienced. I am blessed. You see, I was so hungry for love, I know I would have settled for it anywhere! In the lack, I have been driven deeper. In the gift of dry, barren ground, my roots have pressed down to the streams of living water. The secret I have found in pain and heartbreak is who God is for me. He doesn't stop every hard circumstance in my life. In painful times He gives me one of His greatest gifts: the opportunity to let His love pour through me. It is the most pleasurable experience I have ever known! And one I cannot have the same way in times of ease and comfort.

Last spring a woman prayed over me and was given this scripture for me during her prayer: "But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a drink offering to God..." ~Phil 2:17.

At that time, I truly was pouring myself out for people who had betrayed me and had treated me with hatred and scorn. I could see no purpose loving them, nothing to be gained other than knowing I was being obedient and feeling God's pleasure as He loved these people through me.

The Bible says a drink offering was to be a choice wine and it was to be offered as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. Some people could argue that the drink offering was a waste of good wine (like the oil "wasted" on Jesus' feet). But what better use is there for our lives? I am not a doormat, nor am I a martyr. God leads me to offer my heart in vulnerability, in specific ways in every different circumstance. This has led to an intimacy with the Lord beyond what I can experience when I rely on my own strength, and my own