What’s That Smell?

In Matthew 26, we read that Jesus was a guest at Simon the leper’s home.  As he was relaxing at the table, a woman brought an alabaster flask with an expensive perfume inside and proceeded to pour it over Jesus’ head.  It is possible that this flask of perfume was this woman’s dowry, given to her by her parents.  According to history, the bride would pour this oil over her groom’s feet on their wedding night.

The disciples flipped out because the perfume could have been sold to help the poor instead of being wasted by being poured out over Jesus’ head.  Jesus’ response is that her actions are beautiful and have prepared Him for burial.  Imagine that, the disciples were telling Jesus Christ that something was being wasted on Him!

Can you imagine how fragrant her perfume was?  The air was full of obedience, a costly gift…after all, this was her dowry, and it was irreplaceable.  Her worship came from the core of her existence.  I’m sure she heard the whispers, the remarks of the men in the room.  “Why is she doing that?”, “Who does she think she is?”, “Poor thing, Jesus is about to correct her and she doesn’t even know it yet.”  Isn’t it great how we think we know what Jesus should and should not spend his time doing?

True worship requires some effort and focus on our part.  Regardless of the comments around us, in spite of the negativity, even though it costs us something special, we must worship with our very existence.  This woman had a special calling in her life.  She anointed Jesus to prepare His body for burial.  The burial had to happen before the resurrection.  Her scent had a vital role in eternity, but there was no way she knew how important it was.

We didn’t know the end of her story until after we read it.  We won’t know the eternal significance of our worship until we live a life of it.

Stop Being Disappointed

Have you ever been disappointed by family or friends? Do you have someone in your life who just isn’t doing the best that you know they can? Are you burdened by wanting to guide them down an easier path?

I tend to carry heavy loads on behalf of these people. I get frustrated when they won’t heed my advice. After all, I have walked the path already. I’ve learned how to rely on God and I’m willing to share shortcuts. Why won’t these people listen to me? Why do they make things so difficult?

Recently, I found myself becoming bitter because of this disappointment. I worried over the situation, letting my negative feelings fester, until I came to the point of proclaiming, “I am done with them.” Then I quietly said, “God, they’re in Your hands. I give up.” God immediately replied, “You disappoint me every day, but I am not done with you.  …and it never really was in your hands.” Some of you may think that is a harsh response but I would disagree. Although God disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:6), I knew this was the Father’s loving way of reminding His daughter that we are ALL sinners, and that many of us try too often to do His job. I was quite guilty of both at that very moment.

For one, getting angry with those who disappoint me – calling them stubborn, or uncooperative, or rude – isn’t in the best interest of my own Christian walk. Although it is necessary at times to be salt of the earth, it is just as important to be the light. (Matthew 5:13-16) Having just admitted that I have traveled the same path, I am no better than anyone else. Instead, this is my time to shine and show how Jesus didn’t give up on me. He didn’t call me ugly names and tell me He was done when I wouldn’t listen to Him. He patiently walked beside me while I stumbled my way around off-course, leading me back on the right track. No matter how disappointed I get, I have to remember to share His love. In doing so, those who are stumbling now will soon realize that Jesus is walking with them too.

1 Peter 5:6-7 reads, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Yes, ALL of your anxiety… not just some.  I have to stop trying to handle things for God. He doesn’t need my help! Some people need to stumble down a difficult path in order to come to these realization on their own. Not everyone learns the same way. Some can listen and get it. Others, like myself, have to try and fail before we understand. I guarantee someone had a burden of sharing shortcuts with me, but I was too stubborn and uncooperative to listen. It was through my disappointment and failures that I learned to rely on the Lord and trust His full control. He lifted me in due time – His time – and I have to believe that He will lift up those who disappoint me too.

Are there really shortcuts in life anyway? I am beginning to see that there aren’t. Well, none with positive outcomes. I want to help people, maybe you do too, but doing things for them can actually make matters worse. Instead of wanting to tell them the easy way out, we may need to show them through the hard times. We should focus on being the lantern to God’s light and find comfort in knowing the Lord will bring them to the same place of understanding that we, ourselves, have been brought to by Him.

Restrained in Freedom

The definition of “captured” is to take by force, to take prisoner or seize.  It also means to gain control of or exert influence over.

It is ironic that when talking about God we often use the phrases “captured by grace” or “You’ve captured me with Your love”.  So, I guess you could say we are restrained in freedom.  I suppose that is an oxymoron, but isn’t that often how God works?  His ways are supernatural and I for one am glad.  I’m thrilled that His ways are higher than mine because that means He knows my future, He can see the bigger picture and best of all, I don’t have to have all the answers.  I can take that responsibility off my shoulders and leave it to God.

We all have those days our momma’s told us about.  We have a bad day at work and come home only to take it out on our families.  Our husbands didn’t fold the laundry right, so we bust through it like the Tasmanian Devil so we can show him how it is supposed to be done.  What about the days or even weeks that the bills outnumber the junk mail?  Even in the despair of death or loss, God is influencing us with His love, mercy and grace.

It’s hard for some people to contemplate a relationship with God because they feel like they can’t be themselves or there will be strings attached to a puppeteer.  God is the complete opposite of controlling.  A life with Him is freeing and empowering.  Does that mean that everything is easy and laid in your lap?  I wish I could say it was, but we are all familiar with that little thing called reality.  I guess that is why it is so hard for us to trust God—we can’t see the bigger picture and none of us have all the answers.  Thank goodness we don’t have to!  Life certainly has its ups and downs, but it’s not that bad being held prisoner by genuine, sincere love from your creator.