She did what she could

“So…what are you doing these days? Besides having babies?” The question was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but behind it was a definite confusion and skepticism of my life choices. “What about your writing? Have you done any more of that since college? Do you use your degree?”

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been asked questions like these, or who has occasionally come to a sort of crisis point where you may find yourself asking, “what am I doing with my life? And is it enough?”

Mark 14:3-9 was part of my Bible reading last night, and the story of Mary pouring out her offering to Jesus struck me as I was thinking about these things.

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

What a beautiful passage! Particularly verse 8: “she hath done WHAT SHE COULD.”

She gave something precious and costly.

No one could mistake the overwhelming fragrance of the perfume she poured out. It had cost a fortune–and now it was lost in the dust of the floor and the sweaty smells of all those who had come to the feast. Was it a waste? There are so many other ways her gift could have been used that would not have seemed so…wasteful. 

We all possess gifts of great price. Perhaps God has asked you to spend your life and talents in a way that is precious to Him, but looks foolish to the world. Remember that whatever you are doing for the Lord, it is not wasted. It pleases Him.

She knew and believed who Jesus said He was and what He promised He would do. 

He told them He had come to die. She knew He spoke the truth, though she did not know when or where that dreadful day would come to pass. The disciples did not understand; but Mary, she knew. She anticipated it. And she wanted to be part of it. She anointed Him in anticipation of His burial.

Believe that God is who He says He is. And believe that your obedience to Him is of great value. Believe that His promises are true. Remember that your whole life is to be an offering to Him, and that there is SO MUCH waiting on the other side of this brief flash of life we are living now. There is a kingdom coming.

She pleased the Savior, even though her offering was criticized and scorned by even those close to Jesus.

Her offering was messy. Its scent was overwhelming in the small room. She laid her dignity aside as she used her own hair to wipe Jesus’ feet. The bottle cost her dearly–a year’s wages saved and spent on this one moment. Perhaps she could have spent it other places rather than on something so…frivolous. Impractical. Intimate. Temporary. 

And yet. Yet, the Savior gives her highest praise, and declares that the story of her gift will be told for generations. Because she gave something precious to Him.

She did what she could. 

The missionary lost in a sea of words and faces and smells and tastes different from anything they’ve ever known. The man making the long commute to his office, taking an extra few minutes to talk to the homeless man on the corner and buy a newspaper from him. The mama jostling her baby and humming quietly in the middle of the night, both to soothe him and to keep herself awake for just a few more minutes. The teacher keeping a smile on her face and a lilt in her voice even as she works through the same problem set with her student who doesn’t understand and has no help at home. The neighbor who shovels the walkway for the grumpy couple that lives next door.

David dancing before the Lord. The widow giving her last mite. Joseph of Arimathea donating his tomb. Miriam breaking out in song after the defeat of the Egyptian army. Pouring out offerings to the Lord–a sweet-smelling savor.

Sometimes I overthink my offerings; I become paralyzed wondering, “is it good enough? Am I doing it right? Will God accept this?” And while it is good to take care that our offerings are the best they can be, I don’t need to become consumed by fear that the Lord will not find me acceptable. Many times, I need to do what I can. I have children to love and disciple; I can do that. I have a home to keep in order; I can do that. I have a voice and I know songs and can read Scripture; I can worship. I have neighbors who need Jesus; I can open my home and my heart and tell them about Him. I have friends who need encouragement; I can bless them. I have a God who loves me and loves when I present myself a living sacrifice; I will do what I can.

Wherever God has placed you, whatever He has called you to do, whatever it looks like–do not let fear of what others think or fear of your own worthiness or potential for failure get in the way of you doing what you can to serve God and prepare the way for His kingdom.

(for more encouragement on this passage, see http://www.reformedreader.org/rbs/merck01.htm, which I found helpful!)

 

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