Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

Continued from last week.

“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me. She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand 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.”

Mark 14:6, 8-9

Jesus said that this woman, Mary, who had broken her alabaster box to anoint Him would never be forgotten, she would always be on God’s mind.

Sometimes our most treasured attributes or possessions must become a broken offering to release that costly fragrance that catches God’s attention. That can be a painful process. Especially when you are trying to adapt to all the countless changes and upheaval in life these past couple years.

People’s patience is lacking. Everything feels upside-down. Families struggle to help their children catch up on any ground lost when they were kept at home in front of a computer. Depression, hopelessness, and loss of joy remain an elusive epidemic even after COVID was declared under control.

Nothing feels safe or customary as our country seems to be splitting like dry firewood. It has caused great gaps within our lives. But God has never left us.

 We must face these issues ourselves and for others, and cry aloud for grace to help in this terrible time of need. That brokenness is a sweet-smelling savor to God. He collects every tear that drips from your cheek, and from the cheeks of your children and grandparents.

The Bible says that He has a bottle to hold every tear that you have shed.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalm 56:8. 

Now, make no mistake, it took a hungry humble surrender for Mary to wipe all the dust and animal droppings from Jesus’s feet with her hair in the presence of the leadership and His disciples, who were verbally berating her, embarrassed by her out of the box behavior.

Mary had reached the point where her passion made her cry out something like this, “I don’t care any longer about who’s watching, or what they think. All I care about is that He knows how much I adore Him and how thankful I am.”

Have you ever just fallen at His feet, crying for mercy and forgiveness? Under controlled, specially timed circumstances? Or naked and bare before all?

God wants us to declare our love openly and boldly and complete utter dependance for Him. Become a “box-breaker.” Forget about what others may think of you — or the “spiritual sentence” you may be served.

Here is the truth. God has no use for our routine religious tradition and service. He longs for our worship and a relationship. And that true worship is birthed only through pain and humility.

So often, we put people on a pedestal who carry great anointing. That is not what Jesus meant by those worthy of honor or respect.

Who does God memorialize? The people of His face and feet. Oil-pourers, tear-washers, box-breakers, humble lovers of Him more than lovers of self or things.

The breaking and contrite state of your heart arrest the ears and eyes of God, and it begins when your love for Him supersedes your fear of what others may think. You can’t seek His face and save your face at the same time.

If you ever get so hungry for God that you are in pursuit of Him, He will do extraordinary things for you. 

Oh Church, so many of us seem to thrive or exist on occasional revelations of God, past miracles. He longs for us to press in toward His secret chamber. He loves to stop and honor the cries of those like Mary, or like the woman with the issue of blood, or like the Centurion.

 He refuses to honor personal monuments we try and build for Him, especially if they were never paid for with our tears, prayers, brokenness, and humility. We prefer things to come quickly, easily, and at less cost. God knows such things would never produce any lasting character in us.

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24-25.

There are seasons we must pause the opinions and expectations of those around us. We need to lay aside every idea of what we consider acceptable, expected religious protocol as we seek His face alone as Mary did.

God is out to sanctify and bring to maturity all members of the Church, His body. He is sending fire to burn away all that is not like unto Him, as He searches for a people who long for Him with all their heart, mind, and soul.

Salvation is a gift and God’s glory will cost us everything. He wants us to press in and be so saturated with His glory that we carry it with us everywhere we go.

Our flesh nature needs to be broken apart and poured out just as was Mary’s alabaster box. As that happens, the Word promises, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38).

Once God’s people lay down their toys and sacrifice even those things they deem so valuable in this life, the Church will appear totally different than it has for centuries. It will once again overflow with fresh bread and every good gift. But more importantly, like Mary, each member will possess those experiences that transcend anything they could have imagined or dreamed.

Just as Moses’s very face was changed because of the glory of God shining through him from that audience of one, so will ours be changed. Nothing will be more important to us than Him. No more people-pleasing.

Take giving for instance. Our left hand is not supposed to know what our right is doing — let alone tossing cash while everyone is watching. Only obedience. No more putting on airs or appearances. As they say in exercise — that is when the “flesh feels the burn.”

Thank God we grow and mature.

Thank God we grow to know it is not profitable to try and appear like anything we are not.

Praise God His fire ignites those deeds of the old man by literal consumption of all that is not like unto Him.

It is at that point we will not care. Our love, desire, dependence, and thankfulness for Him will break and gush forth like a flood. And like Paul, we will forge forward with our cry to be changed into His image.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12.

This is a decision that everyone must make on their own. When Mary broke her alabaster box and poured it over Jesus, the disciples not only wanted her thrown out.

“But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, “To what purpose is this waste?” Matthew 26:8.

Jesus said this was not waste, but Mary had wrought a good work upon Him.

We may find it necessary to ignore some stares or comments of spiritually/politically correct friends or family members if our hunger drives us to break through to reach His feet with our whole heart. But He is worthy. And He will answer – extravagantly.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30.

Ruminate on that.