We all have those moments in time when our dreams seem to be far away and sleep seems to be a little elusive to us. We toss and turn a little, drifting in and out of restless slumber, only to come awake again, mind thinking on things we should have shut off long ago. In those times where slumber seems to evade us, we often think about stuff which we have been mulling over previously. I think this is why God asks us to learn the "skill" of meditating upon his Word and upon him. When those sleepless nights creep up on us, we will have some better "fodder" for our mulling than if we just ruminate on the worries of the day! We can "mull over" his grace, think a little bit about his goodness, and contemplate his blessings in our lives - all because we have filled places in our minds and hearts with the right "fuel" for "mulling"! As I was in the Big Lots last week, I came across a display of "mulling spices" and had to ask my mom what they were. At this stage in the game, it is a crap-shoot if she will remember stuff like this, but I gave it a try. She couldn't exactly remember, so I looked them up and found out they are things like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg - ingredients added to hot beverages on cold nights to warm the body.
I am innocent, Lord, and I will see your face! When I awake, all I want is to see you as you are. (Psalm 17:15 CEV)
Now, we are not a family who lives in the colder climates, so this is probably why I didn't know much about mulling spices, but in considering their origin and purpose, I was instantly "hooked". I may not make much hot cider, but I think I understand apple cider is made the "richer" by the spices which are added and "cooked into" it over the flame of the hot stove. It is the "essence" of the spices which are released into the warming juices which will become the hallmark of the warmed drink. These "essences" are often wrapped in a bit of cheesecloth and then boiled into the drink over the hot flames. As they are soaking up the juices, they are releasing their rich flavors and fragrances, bringing an awakening to one's sense of smell and taste.
The idea of "essence" being released is what caught my attention about this Christmas tradition. You see, if we have the right "ingredients" in the "bag", the essence of what is released when we allow it to begin to "seep into" the areas of our lives where we are ruminating, we will soon begin to realize the beauty of what Christ wants to release "into" our lives in those wee hours of the night! The worries will begin to vanish and the "beauty" of his presence (the fragrance of his grace, love, kindness, etc) will begin to be released, overtaking the thoughts we are "stewing on"!
The idea of having something of "fragrance" or "essence" added into our lives is not a new concept - it is frequently taught in scripture. Grace has a "fragrance" all its own. You might recognize it as "release", "peace", or "freedom". The goodness of God has an "essence" which leaves indelible signs of having touched our lives in things like "restored health", "renewed relationships", and "regenerated purpose". The "essence" of God's presence is palpable, friends. It is apparent in not only the daytime hours of study in his Word, but in the nighttime hours of ruminating thoughts and fatigued bodies!
In case you weren't aware, the "essence" of something is more than the fragrance it gives off. It is also the "lifeblood" of the object or person. When we are touched by the Spirit of God, there is something of a "life-exchange" which occurs. His "essence" leaves us different than we were before. Apart from his essence, we are merely "fruit juice" - with his added essence, we are "robust and warming" life! Cinnamon once it is soaked for a while in the fruit juices no longer really has much essence left - it has given the essence to the mixture. The same is true of the allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. The distinctive essence is infused into the whole. This is the way it is when Christ's Spirit invades the thoughts of our wee hour musings. The essence of his presence begins to give a new "flavor" to the things we think upon.
May all your musings be filled with Holy Spirit infused "mulling spices"! Just wishin!