I have to give you all an apology for not blogging in MONTHS. literally. I am sorry.
I have some updates for you all:
I got married
I changed my last name (see above if confused)
I started my student teaching experience
STEP-UP was INCREDIBLE!!!!!- I don’t even know where you START!
Below this entry is a picture of St. Sabina’s Church in Chicago, which I’m sure I will write more about at some point, and I thought I’d share it with you.
and….Jesus is doing some pretty special things in my life.
Today I went to a new and different church with my dear friend Sarah and my husband 😉 It was quite a nice place full of welcoming people and I got a lot out of the sermon. Recently I have been praying for spiritual guidance about money. Becoming *almost* financially independent from my family has been a wonderful adjustment and being faithful with tithing and savings has been incredibly rewarding, but it does not come without it’s worldly stresses and difficulties. I know I must seek wisdom about how to manage finances and how to spend money and become less dependent upon worldly possessions, becoming more dependent upon God in the process. I know that many of my friends are in a similar if not the same boat, and so this morning at “coffee time”, Dennis and I prayed for our own situation as well as theirs. Almost as if it was a sign (which I am starting to believe in more and more), today’s teaching was about that very situation.
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of 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. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9
First of all, who is this woman? I wish I knew her so I could ask her what motivated her to spend a year’s wages on Jesus– what had he done for her that she was so in love with her Lord as to give him so much? Jesus tells us that her story would be told in memory of her, to remember her sacrifice– as an example of how sold out a person could be for Jesus. She saw him as the man he was, chilling out with them at the table, spending time and sharing company. But she also saw him as the incredible all-powerful God who causes us to tremble and quake with fear and awe. She saw him as both.
I don’t often ask myself how aware I am of both of these sides of God. At times I am so aware of his power, wonder, and mystery, and other times I see him as the casual guy who I can relate to and imitate and be friends with. But he’s both. Jesus is a way to help us understand a certain side of God, but the other side…. I’m not so sure we can fully comprehend. Still, I know we need to be aware of Him and seek him out as our creator, provider, and to fear his power. In order to do this, I know that He demands everything from us. And that’s the scary part for me.
So much of me wants to worry about money. As I’m putting it aside for tithe and savings and spending it on gas and groceries and….a vacuums cleaner (kind of essential for our new place), I worry about funds, about our water bill, about Dennis’s shows, about having enough… But truly, God provides! He has given me so much victory in teaching me ways in which to be thrifty and savvy with money. With packing lunches, with getting creative, and with providing me with job opportunities. I was motivated today to give Jesus everything I have, and to even give up that worry which I waste upon the funds he never fails to provide for us.
Another thing I began to do was to imagine my morning again. I pictured myself making coffee, Dennis sitting at the table reading, and then I pictured Jesus reclining at the table as well. How exciting right?! I thought about how I would have gone out of my way to make him comfortable and to serve him (being careful, of course, to not be a “Martha”). As much as I do really wish that we had the immense privilege of inviting God to breakfast, I do know that I have already invited Jesus into my heart, and he comes to me in many ways. Perhaps he is not sitting at my table, but I can still serve him in the way that the woman in the verse did so long ago. What would it be like if I strove to see Jesus in everyone I met? I would serve them in the same way I would serve my Lord and Father. I would be present with them, be kind to them, offer myself and services to them, and give them access to all that I own. I would not withhold or be bitter or slow to forgive. What would it be like if I could see the Holy Spirit in each person I met, even if they didn’t see it? Would they be weirded out like the people at Bethany were when the woman poured the perfume over Jesus’s head? Would they be inspired by God’s graciousness through me and wonder what it is that I have? Would they better see the Spirit in themselves?
God tells us to serve and love our neighbor as we would ourselves. He tells us that anything we do for our brother we also do for Him. The only way I can worship and serve Christ is to serve others.
I think about this… and I know that the people who opposed this woman’s actions are very real and I know they have a huge influence on the way I serve or don’t serve. I wish I could say otherwise. When people are extreme about Jesus and truly devoted to becoming a disciple, people do not understand. They are freaked out or angry. The people who watched as the woman worshiped Jesus so wholly and expensively were angered because they would never do what she did—so how can that be practical?
Sometimes I think, logically, it doesn’t make sense to tithe if I have so “many expenses” in my life. But then I think about what God has done for me, and I think about Jesus on the cross dying for my sins….and I want to give more. I want to repay my debt with my entire life and offer up all that I have…. unknowing of the cost or how painful that might be, and failing to truly understand how to do it, I want to transform into a new creation, into a servant of the Lord. No matter how many times I fail to let go of the earthly things that keep me flawed and tragically a sinner….
Today I am inspired to let go of the things that bind me. To be free and to offer all to Jesus. To receive and know that I am still loved even if what I receive is taken away. To be sold out for Christ.
Today I am inspired to place my identify in Him who created me. To let him do his work and speak his word through my humble life. To become free in my devotion and love for Jesus.
Father, keep me motivated and encourage me on this earth. Remind me of my own dependence upon your grace, your love, and your power. Help me recognize your beautiful spirit which you have placed in each individual being. Create my heart new, unattached from this world, and help me place my material money where my heart is: with you. Take all of my false idols off their pedestals and dismantle the importance I have wrongly placed upon them. Help me to see you as my everything, and help me give you all that I receive and all that I have. You have created me to be a servant; help me to imitate you in how you lived so that I may live up to the purpose you have made me for. Father, I love you with all my heart; help me love you with all my mind, soul, money, body, and everything else.