Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lesson | Sacrificial Devotion

Eric and I have been heavily involved in our church midweek program this past year. It's been a lot of work, but has had such incredibly rewarding elements that I don't regret the decision to be apart of the team that launched a new program at our church. The program is a family based experienced that allows us to learn, worship, and respond together as a family. As a parent, watching my children dance and sing at the top of their lungs in worship has been worth the personal sacrifices and challenges.

Last night I didn't have any responsibilities. The Wednesdays without responsibility have been very few, plus I'd had dental work earlier in the day, I was sorely tempted to stay home. I didn't and I am so glad I didn't.

We will be loosing one of our pastor's and his family in a few short days. My heart has been selfishly aching over the upcoming loss. Our pastor and his wife have been with us for nine years, coming at the same time that Eric and I got married. They are gifted by God with the ability to help walk us into the throne of grace and mercy through corporate worship. I have been consistently spiritually fed through the worship experience I came to expect every single Sunday morning after a very long personal worship drought. In the short week we've known they would be leaving I have felt the panic rise in my heart and I have cried out to God, Please, please, please don't let it go back to how it was before! I don't ever want to be that hungry again.

Last night we were learning about the part of The Big God Story that talks about Mary, Lazarus and Martha's sister. We already know from another story that Mary was the one who simply loved to sit at Jesus' feet. She'd already received criticism from her sister for not helping out more with the "doing". And Jesus had already told Martha that Mary had chosen better. But even with Jesus' affirmation her days of being criticized weren't over. And Mary's devotion to him ran deep. This story probably took place about a week before Jesus was crucified. Mary comes in to the room and anoints Jesus' feet with this incredibly expensive bottle of perfume, wiping his feet with her hair. The disciples were appalled and annoyed and outspokenly critical of Mary's "waste" of the expensive perfume. They felt like it would have better used by selling it and giving the money to the poor. She took some pretty nasty criticism from the disciples (who thought they knew best) because of her actions. But JESUS praised her! Did you catch that? JESUS praised her! We are still talking about her devotion thousands of years later. She is remembered as being devoted!

Our pastor led us into an extended time of worship response. These are our final days with them and my heart was like a sponge, longing to soak up every moment in this place of beautiful corporate worship, somehow hoping to build up some kind of reserve. And then I felt like I was being rung out as the tears for my loss streamed down my face. I heard God speak (as clear as Gracie's chatter about the picnic on the lawn she was remembering from last fall). I heard him ask me if I was willing to pour out my most precious bottle of perfume (my worship experience) as an act of devotion to my God. Could I really truly give up what I thought I needed my corporate worship experience to be and trust that God would meet me, even if meant a lengthy drought?

Gracie climbed up on my lap and brushed both of my cheeks with her small soft hands. "Mommy, I'm drying your tears," she said. And the Lord filled my heart with so much joy at the gift He had given me and my family for the last nine years.

On the way home in the mini-van I tried to explain to my kids why I was crying through TRU. Daniel said, from the back, "Mommy, aren't Pastor Brent and Ms. Celeste going to still be doing music CDs? Maybe we can get some more of those and maybe they could still come visit." Maybe. I selfishly hope so.

What is the most precious bottle of perfume that God is hoping you would be willing to pour out on Jesus' feet to show your devotion to Him?