Do Something Good

Recently the entire East Coast was under a Severe Storm warning. A large system that brought copious amounts of rain, lightning, high winds, and the threat of tornadoes made its way across several states. As it approached North Carolina, all the weather outlets started posting warnings, maps, forecasts, projections, and color-coded resources that gave predictions about the strength of the storm and possible damage to one’s immediate area.

In my immediate area, the storm shifted, wobbled, and weakened to the point that the projections from 24 hours earlier were happily way off the mark. I say happily because that is how we should have received the change of course. But instead, many people took to social media to denounce and decry the efforts of meteorologists who were using their best science to keep people safe. They were complaining that the storm they had prepared for DIDN’T hit them.

Honestly, people will complain about EVERYTHING!

This well-known passage in the book of Mark tells a story of a woman who made a beautiful and fragrant offering to our Lord. It was just before the crucifixion, and Jesus received it as an anointing of his body.

Mark 14 (Common English Bible)

 It was two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and legal experts through cunning tricks were searching for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the festival; otherwise, there would be an uproar among the people.

Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his head. Some grew angry. They said to each other, “Why waste the perfume? This perfume could have been sold for almost a year’s pay and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her.

The gift was very expensive. Contained in a jar of alabaster, the perfume was so pungent that its aroma filled the entire house. It was pure nard, and it was hers to give.

And of course, someone complained.

Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.”

I love Jesus’s response. Leave her alone! SHE has done a good thing.

The take-away here is that if you find yourself complaining, get up and go do a good thing. Complaining doesn’t bring anything but misery to those around you. Going out and doing something in the name of Jesus is the best antidote to your complaints.

Find someone today who needs to breathe in the blessing of your generosity. And when you give as this woman gave, the good news is announced everywhere, leaving behind only its sweet fragrance.

Spring Smells by Becca Ziegler

Broken to be a Blessing

A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. He was wondering if there really is a God, and if God really hears his prayers. All of a sudden he said out loud, “Lord, give me a blessing.” Suddenly the sky clouded above his head, and in a booming voice the Lord said, “Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will give you a blessing.” The man said, “Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want to.” 

The Lord said, “Your request is very materialistic. Think of the logistics of that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of another blessing, a blessing you think would honor and glorify me.” 

The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, “Lord, I wish that I could understand my teenagers. I want to know how they feel inside, what they are thinking when they give me the silent treatment, why they shut themselves up in their rooms, and what they mean when they say ”nothing!” and ”whatever!”

After a few minutes God said, “You want two or four lanes on that bridge?”

In his book Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen invites us to consider how God can use our brokenness to bless others…in other words, to consider that we broken people are somehow “blessed to be a blessing.”

It is a total change of mind-set to be able to take our broken places and lay them at the foot of the cross and say to God, “Here. Use this.” In simple terms, we chose to become “wounded healers” who allow God to take our hurts and connect with someone who has the same wounds and would be comforted because of our experience.

Take a look at this interaction between Jesus and Mary Magdalene just days before his death:

Mark 14 (The Message)

3 Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some grew angry. They said to each other, “Why waste the perfume? 5 This perfume could have been sold for almost a year’s pay and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her.

6 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. 7 You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me. 8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. 9 I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.

I love the image of the broken vase of perfume being poured over our Lord by a very broken woman. In this last act of kindness that Jesus would ever experience on earth, she released the fragrance of her offering, and the witness of it permeated the house.

God invites us to allow our brokenness to be a blessing to others. He can use our honesty and vulnerability about our broken past to be an act of kindness to someone who is struggling with the same thing.

Consider the beauty of a stained glass window. What is it made of? Broken glass. But in the hands of a Master, the broken pieces are put together in a way that brings beauty and grandeur to a sanctuary. The light shines through and the colors become brilliant.

So it is with you. Let the light of Christ shine though your brokenness so that his beauty and glory will be seen by all who see you.

Broken Beauty by Colin Snider