“She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” … (Jesus said) “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to… She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.” (Mark 14)
What a great life lesson for the disciples as they were about to be cast out into the world without Jesus’ physically being with them. It is apparent from the life the Apostles led after the resurrection that they took this life lesson to heart.
This lesson is for us also. Our attitude is to be “doing what we can,” but it may not be as you think. This lesson is not about “doing something for God,” but it is about being faithful to trust God for every moment of your life.
We are to take whatever the Lord has placed in our hands and use it for His glory. Ecclesiastes 9:10 reminds us, “Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.”
In other words, the Lord never intended for us to look for things to do for Him, but just be faithful in those things that He places in our hands and brings across our path.
Instead of saying, “Lord I think I want to do this for you”, it should be “Lord, what would you have me to do?” If we will learn to live every day in obedience to Him, and let go of our life in full surrender, He will bring thoughts, circumstances and people across our path that will lead to spiritual fulfillment and abundant fruit.
That’s a difficult lesson for me to learn. I am a doer/performer by nature. My life motto is “You are holding up production, get out of the way and let me do it.” Waiting on God is not one of my virtues. So brokenness for me has been to learn to back off, wait till God speaks and then join Him in what He would have me do. I am sorry to say there have been too many instances when I took things in my own hands and have gotten ahead of God.
While we are waiting on God to lead us we can be like the servant woman in Mark 14, “we can do what we can.” We can love those who are hard to love. We can practice giving away our life to others. We can provide Bibles for those who have never seen or read a Bible. We can bake cookies for our neighbors. We can help someone who is struggling. We can identify a single mom and give them a helping hand. You get the idea, we can give what we already have in our hand and God will open more doors for us than we can ever imagine possible.
During the late 80’s I left the full-time pastorate, received some additional training and opened a pastoral counseling ministry. I was immediately covered up with counseling clients. As a matter of fact, there were times when it would take several weeks to get an appointment with my office. I was perfectly content with spending the rest of my life in this ministry.
I wasn’t impacting a whole community nor ministering to the masses in a pastoral role, but I was reaching a few, one counselee at a time. I was doing what I could and being faithful to what God had placed in my hands.
One day I was approached by a mission leader and asked if I would allow him to translate my conference material into Russian and then go Moscow to teach several hundred pastors. This was just after the curtain had fallen in the communist Eastern Bloc countries. I must admit, I was a tad uneasy about this new opportunity. First, it was Russia. They had been our enemy for most of my life. Secondly, other than a Caribbean cruise, I had never been out of the country. Besides, what could I possibly teach pastors who had been persecuted and thrown in jail for their faith?
But God had once again placed something in my hand and I must use what He had placed in my hand and trust him for the results. On that trip, God took what was in my hand and used it for His glory, far exceeding my expectations.
God used this event to open up a whole new world to me, literally. During the next couple of decades I had the privilege to train thousands of pastors and church planters on five continents, all because I used what was in my hand and trusted God for the rest.
The Christian life is about surrender. It’s about surrendering all that we are, and all that we hope to be. The Lord wants us to be faithful using what He has already placed in our hand. He wants us be like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, so it can be said about us “we have done all we could.”