On most days when 4 o’clock rolls around you will find me in the same place — in my kitchen making supper. I begin the chopping and sautéing and set the table. I call the boys in from the backyard and wash the dirt from underneath their little fingernails. Then the four of us gather around the table and eat what I have made.
Sometimes I love this job. I turn on my favourite iTunes playlist, open the window to hear the birds sing and pretend I’m in Italy as I slice the tomatoes and onions. Other times I despise this responsibility. I huff and puff while I clear the table, whine that I don’t know what to make, and glare at my husband as he relaxes on the couch after a long day at work.
But as Jesus softens my heart, as He does the work only He can do inside of me, I see more and more that this — making dinner for my family — is an opportunity I have been given to serve. And serving, I am learning, is a way to become more Christ-like. Not when it is done for recognition, or with a resentful heart, but when done from a place of love. In this small act I am doing as Jesus did.
This is not easy for me, but when I get it right and serve with a humble heart I get a glimpse of my Father’s desire for me. Ahh, this is what you want me to do. This is the person you have created me to be. This is the love you are inviting me into and calling me to give away.
I think about the story of the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume who came to see Jesus when he was having dinner in the home of a Pharisee.
“When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.” (Luke 7:38 NLT)
I can imagine the sight — streaks of make-up running down her face, her hair a matted mess of tangles, sweat, tears. As the other dinner guests watched her in judgement and disgust, her eyes were only on Jesus and what she knew He had done for her.
I am challenged by this woman. Would I have done as she did, or would I have held onto the perfume for safe-keeping? How often I cling to the gifts I have. I want to keep them locked up and safe, used sparingly and on my own terms. I want nothing to be “wasted” — as if I know better than God what that even means.
When this woman gave what she had in gratitude to Jesus, she became a beautiful expression of the character of God. His desire to redeem, to forgive, to be close with His children. She showed the disbelieving guests that God’s arms are wide open for everyone, and that He wants our whole hearts more than our holy acts.
What is in our hands? What is our sweet-smelling perfume? Maybe it’s the food in our fridge, our time, or maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s our energy, our talents, our dreams. These are all things I have hoarded at one time or another. But I’m beginning to see another way. What if I offered what was in my hands to Jesus? Do I have the faith to believe He could do so much more with it than what I could do on my own?
When the woman with the alabaster jar gave, she helped people see the great expansive heart of God. I don’t have much to give, but if I can trust that God wants to take what I have and use it to draw people into His love, then it would be worth opening my hands and pouring everything out. To the very last drop.