To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3)
When my father-in-law Howard passed away a few days ago, an oppression weighed on me for several days. I was easily moved to tears. Tim and I were out of sync, and exchanged words.
Everything turned dark – literally. Even as I sat down at the keyboard to begin this blog entry, our house (and 121 others in the neighborhood) lost power. The lights went out. The computer shut down. Is there no balm in Gilead?
I asked the Lord, “Want to go with me for a walk in the rain?”
I pictured Jesus nodding, brushing off my jeans, and saying, with a twinkle in His eye, “Here. Check this out.” He handed me something of green fabric.
“What’s this for?” I asked Him, unfolding it.
“It’s a sweatshirt. The sweatshirt of praise. When you trade out the spirit of heaviness for this, the oil of joy breaks out all over. Just watch and see.” I pulled the sweatshirt on over my head.
As we walked, the rain sputtered and splattered my face, though we walked beneath the canopy of a bright rainbow-colored umbrella. But I didn’t care. I was with Jesus. I could sense Him beside me. I praised Him for the pattering rain. I praised Him for the soggy leaves that swooped off trees into our path as we climbed a hill. I praised Him for just hanging out with me.
When we returned, the power was back on. I put worship on in my living room, and cranked the speakers.
Soon the whole house was filled with songs of worship and praise.
I open my arms wide, in abject surrender to the Spirit of the Living God. The atmosphere shifts in our home. It becomes filled with the tangible, realized presence of God. I can sense more angels here – drawn to the lungfuls of praise.
My sense of loss gradually fades, one chorus at a time, and I’m feeling something inside me – a burbling brook of joy rising up. This must be the oil of His joy.
What does putting on the sweatshirt of praise do for you?