"I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." Mark 14:9 (NIV)
What does it take to be memorialized forever? I used to think it was accomplishing something no one else had done before. I thought the person had to be unblemished in his or her character. I thought it would be the person who cured cancer, had a brilliant intellect, and had the respect of the world.
That's why I knew I would never be memorialized forever. I knew I did not have an original thought or invention to better humankind. I know far too well how I have bombed out in the area of unblemished character. I don't have the intellect that it would take to discover the cure for cancer. And I certainly don't have the respect of the world.
Do you know that there is one woman in Scripture who was promised that wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, she would be remembered forever? What kind of a woman was she? If you are unfamiliar with the story, the revelation of that question will shock your socks off.
While He was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
Mark 14:3-9 (NIV)
Luke 7:37-39 allows us more information about the woman's past:
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."
This woman had made a name for herself, but not in a good way. In fact, the person who judged her most severely was galled at the fact that she had dared to be in the same room with him. In his mind, she was the fool he thought she was. She poured on Christ's feet a perfume so valuable that it was equal in worth to a whole year's salary. What a waste! he thought. He despised her very presence.
Then he judged Christ for not knowing what sort of a person this woman was. Surely Jesus could not have been aware of the filthiness of this woman's life. She was a woman of "ill repute," "loose," and "immoral." The man could see nothing but the symptoms of a love-starved heart that had lived recklessly, trying to find an anchor for her soul. He couldn't see the heart beating in her chest that desperately wished she could be forgiven and start again. He couldn't see it, but Jesus could.
How important is it to us to be remembered? I think it is far more important to us than we could possibly imagine. We want our lives to count. We want to belong somewhere, to be loved by somebody worthy. That drive makes us do the stupidest, cruel, and self-destructive acts to ourselves and, unfortunately, to others. We get a label put on us that disguises a starved heart. Others shout that label to us in subtle and not so subtle ways:
"Oh, she's shy...she's bitter...she's nasty...she's unforgivable...she's...."
And we believe it! Do you know why this undeserving woman who had blown it big time in the eyes of the self-righteous was memorialized by Christ forever? Because she realized how unworthy she was. She had found what her aching soul had longed for and was radically going to show her unabashed love for the One who gave her broken heart a home. A year's salary was nothing to spend on Jesus Christ, the One who was the lifter of her head. She knew she was not smart, unblemished, or full of wisdom as the world values wisdom. But she was no fool. She did not care that she would be horribly misunderstood by others. Her soul was free from everyone else's judgment about her because her Jesus accepted her completely.
My sweet sister, I don't want to live and die without ever doing something beautiful for Jesus, even if that makes me look stupid in the eyes of the world. Our healing is not going to be found in worrying about what other people may think (yes, even other Christians) about our "fanaticism." What is going to be remembered by our God for all eternity is that we chose to do something which others did not have the courage to do--give our all to Him, even when we seem like the biggest fools on the planet. I have been forgiven much. How can I withhold anything from my Jesus? And in giving Him my complete devotion, we will drop the label that others give us that just does not fit a daughter of the King and be memorialized forever.
Jesus, You are worthy of my most lavish praise. I cannot begin to thank You for lifting my head from bitterness and despair eleven years ago. Has it been hard to walk this road with You--so hard I have thought I would surely die. I have died and in the death, have found the life I have always longed for. Let me radically love You, even to my own humiliation and the misunderstanding of others around me.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my life, my soul, my all." (Isaac Watts)
** My wonderful sister-in-law, Karen, has always been unbelievably observant. She asked me about the name change on the blog. Over the past year, I have asked God to give me His perspective instead of mine on all that is happening in my life. One of my favorite Scriptures is I Corinthians 13:12:
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (NIV)
These musings on the blog are just that--a poor reflection of my understanding of the greatness of my God. In the words I write, I am trying to see life more through Christ's eyes on this side of the mirror. Some days I feel encouraged that this is happening. Other days, I don't. It doesn't matter. My perspective does not change the faithfulness of my Jesus.
So there you go, Karen, and thanks, as always, for noticing. I love you!