He Anointeth Our Heads with Oil

I am always amazed at the things God asks us to do. Wrote this a few years ago.

In late August of 2006, I was driving to help my mother-in-law. The price of gas was over three dollars a gallon. As I drove along, it suddenly struck wrong to me that people should be having to pay so much for gas. Oil prices affected everything: gas, airfare, heating, shipping, food that needs to be shipped. It came to me quite strongly to pray about this.

My first thought was: prayer can’t change gas prices! But the quiet message seemed clear, so I prayed.

I started with the thought that oil was an idea and that all people had equal access to God’s ideas. I worked with Mrs. Eddy’s definition of oil: “Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration.” (S&H 592:25) Consecration and heavenly inspiration were hardly the kinds of things that a person could own, fight over, or limit.

As I drove, the price of gas began to go down.  It was $3.07 where I started, but each gas station I passed had posted a price that was a few sense less than the one before it. At the end of my hour trip, I filled my tank for $2.64 a gallon. The experience was awe-inspiring.

Once I got home, I pulled out my Bible. I found that we can a lot about oil in the Bible, especially about its abundance. Elijah asks a widow woman to made a little cake. When she explains that she has only enough oil for one cake left, he tells her to make one first for him and then for herself and her son. She does this, and the meager oil in her jar did not fail until the rain came again, and there was more food.

Elisha meets a widow who cannot pay her husband’s debts. She fears that her two sons will be made into slaves. He tells her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and filled them from her pot of oil. She does this and that one pot pours out enough to fill all the vessels. The widow sells this extra oil and is able to pay all her debts and keep her children.

While it does not appear in my version of the Bible, I also reviewed the story of the Maccabees, in which lamp oil enough for one day burns for eight days until a runner is able to return with more. This event is commemorated each year by the holiday known as Chanukah.

Obviously, petroleum is not the kind of oil used in Biblical times. Yet, I still found it interesting that in those times, like now, oil was used for so many things: eating, cooking, cleaning (instead of soap, one oiled one’s body and then scraped the oil off with a special scraper), as medicine (the good Samaritan puts oil on the injured man’s wounds,) and for lighting lamps.

The fact that in each of these stories more oil appeared, right where there seemed to be a shortage was quite eye opening to me! Inspired by these Bible stories, I prayed to understand that the earth was not a limited material object but a spiritual idea. Therefore, our access to the idea ‘oil’ could not be limited to a set number of pre-existent oil reserves but must be as dynamic as Mind itself.

A few days later, I happened to be flipping radio stations and caught a commercial for the Washington Post. It was a two line ad for an article announcing the finding of one of the biggest domestic oil deposits in years! I later looked this up on the Internet and found, yes, such a deposit had been found in the Gulf of Mexico. The New York Times called it “potentially the largest American oil find in a generation.” (New York Times: “Big Oil Find Is Reported Deep in Gulf,” Sept. 6, 2006) I felt that this was a reminder that there is no limit to ideas.

I continued to pray in this fashion. I even shared these ideas with some friends. When I had returned home from my mother-in-law’s, the price where I had started that first day had only gone down a penny or two from the original three dollar price. Over the next month, however, each day, when I went out it had gone down a little more. By the end of September, I bought gas in a nearby town for $1.98 a gallon. The price then stabilized at about $2.19 and remained in that vicinity for quite some time.

Has not God promised to: “anointest my head with oil?” (Psalm 23:5) When we turn to God in all things, we can be certain that, like the widow who consulted Elisha, our pot of oil shall “runneth over.”