Monday, February 01, 2016

What was I thinking? Reprise

It was 2000 years ago when a widow came to the Jerusalem temple and inconspicuously dropped in two small copper coins into the temple treasury. She was surrounded by many wealthy people giving large sums, but undeterred, she dropped her offering into the box.

Later a woman named Mary scandalized her dinner party guests when she took an entire bottle of pure nard and poured it on the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The perfume was ridiculously expensive and although she was ridiculed by others, she only looked at His face.

About 30 years pass. Paul sat in prison and wrote a letter to dear friends far away. They had given him a gift and he was saying thank you and also shared important matters of his heart and his faith with them. When the letter was done, he handed the scroll to his friend Epaphroditus and prayed for his safe travel to the distant city of Philippi.

All three, the poor nameless widow, Mary of Bethany and Paul had no idea at the time of the significance of their obedience. I wonder -- what were they thinking?

Did the widow wonder what difference it made, her two tiny coins compared to the substantial contributions of the others? Did she fear ridicule for her tiny donation? Did she wonder how she would eat the next day because all her money was now gone? Maybe she just had faith and was obedient to God because she trusted Him, even with all she had.

Did Mary wonder what everyone would say when she lavished all of her precious gift on Jesus? Did she think she would be hidden behind Him at His feet? Was she embarrassed when she realized the smell of the nard filled the room and everyone was staring at her, her hair undone, her extravagance revealed? Was she horrified when Judas pointed at her in scorn saying the money could have been used to feed the poor? Maybe she just had faith and was determined to demonstrate her love for Jesus.

Did Paul wonder if his letter would get to it's destination? Was he concerned about Epaphroditus' health and safety as he traveled? Was he in prayer that the Philippians would be encouraged by his letter and be open to his instructions? Did he wonder if he wasted his time to write a letter that they may never receive? Probably he was moved to communicate to them in the only way available to him, although it was lengthy and cumbersome, and he trusted God for the rest.

The widow had no idea that the Lord of Israel in the flesh stood near her watching and held her up as a sterling example of generosity and faith to His disciples for generations. Mary had no idea Jesus would defend her to her guests, praise her faith and proclaim that her story would be included wherever the gospel was preached. Paul had no idea that not only would his letter reach Philippi but it also would sit on my kitchen table today in New Jersey. They only acted in faith. They had no idea how God would use their obedience.

Ten years ago, I voiced frustration to a dear wise friend. While I don't remember the specifics of the situation, I clearly recall his advice. Use your gift, he told me. Find a way to express the gift that God has given you. And so hesitantly I began a blog. What was I thinking? I had been writing in journals all my life as I cried my heart out to the Lord, as I studied His word. Out of those conversations, He seemed to talk back to me. Really, He did. I'm sorry if it sounds crazy. The words, those thoughts were too "other" to be mine. I wanted to write them down and save them in a way so I could remember them. I hoped that they would encourage others. And some people have told me these posts are encouraging. But I am sure the person who reads my blog the most is me! As I recall Jesus' words to me, I am encouraged and rebuked and strengthened all over again.

I have no idea how God will use this blog. But I know He reads every word. He remains my main audience, an audience of One. This is my conversation with Him. My prayer is that you, if you are reading this, would also be encouraged. Do you have a gift? Are you using it? Find a way to express the gift God has given you. Don't be deterred that it seems small. Don't be embarrassed that it seems ridiculous to others. Don't be hopeless that it will be effective.

God used two small coins, a pound of nard, a parchment is a mighty way. And so I trust Him with this blog. You can trust Him too.

Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me."

Matthew 12:14-44, Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-8, Philippians 2:25-30


Unknown said...

Correction an audience of two. Jesus and ME(A MOTHER OF 3).

Barb said...

Thanks Karina, welcome!