Monday, May 4, 2015

Desperate Love

I can’t count the times that I have run from God, guilt pushing me further from the refuge of my Savior. There was a lie sewn deep into my heart that I had to be good to be loved by God. Muddling in my messes, too ashamed to approach the throne of Jesus- I became desperate. I sought out anything that could make up for the emptiness that swelled within my soul. Trying to fill up the barrenness of my heart I chased fleeting pleasures that held me utterly captive to unhealthy cycles. I was pitiful and longed to be rid of the ghastly parts of myself that craved everything that was wrong. My small-minded beliefs always kept me from going to Jesus in my current disposition. The only girl that could be good enough was blameless, pure and whole. So, I would strive to be the girl he would want me to be. But there was a problem, I always faltered and found myself hesitating and wavering. I couldn’t find the narrow path to where Jesus would meet me.

In quiet need, I peeled open the cover of the neglected bible on my bedside table, aching for some answer, some truth that I was good enough. As I flip through the thin, unused pages, my heart found a glimmer of light in an unlikely place. I meet a scorned, dirty, and forgotten prostitute with an alabaster jar- I’m mesmerized. Her deep need to be loved and accepted despite her wretched nature tugs on my heart strings.  The abandonment of others judgments and her raw vulnerability brings beauty to her plight. It makes me want to find others like me that run from God because of their shame and tell them of the truth that seemed to be written especially for us.

I am taken back in time as I ponder the story of the woman with the alabaster jar. I imagine her eyes welling up with tears as she picks up the beautifully made calcite jar with swirls of cream and brown from her bedside table. I picture her gripping it close to her heart to breath in the lovely scent one last time.  I can see her surveying the meager room in which she lived, knowing that she would be giving away her most prized possession, in just a moment’s time. But giving up the expensive perfume was not why she was about to give in to weeping. She was anxiously searching for something more than momentary passions that secured her future. Her body ached, her soul detached, she wanted so badly to feel again. She was desperate for love.

When she had overheard that Jesus was eating at one of the Pharisees houses, she had run as fast as her sandaled feet could carry her to fetch the precious jar of perfume. Her only hope was the divine scent could cover all her stains. As she walked down the dusty road towards the house where Jesus stayed, she could feel the stares of the town’s people boring into her from every angle. But for once, they didn’t matter, her pace quickened as her resolve grew greater and greater to be in the presence of something she had never known- holiness.

When she entered the threshold of the Pharisee’s house, she could see the shaken expression on his face. Through his ferocious glare she could hear his thoughts. How could this harlot of a woman dare to come through the door of my clean house?! The condemnation and look of disgust was something she had come to know very well. The emotions that she had pushed down over the years were now bursting through the numbness of her heart. She ignored the cautionary scowl and found respite when she made her way to the man she had come to see- her only hope.

All the disguised pain unraveled when she kneeled down to Jesus. Tears rolled down her cheeks into the tangled locks of her hair, onto the feet of a man she believed could save her. Without a second thought, she broke open the alabaster jar and anointed the feet of the Messiah with the expensive perfume. The Pharisee continued stewing in his judgment at the unrelenting tears and persistence of the woman he only knew as the town prostitute. It was no secret to Jesus what the Pharisee was thinking.

In the midst of the woman’s humble assertion, Jesus speaks up; making it clear that the woman with the alabaster jar was more than what met the eye.

“Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” {Luke 7:44-48 NLT}

The Pharisee and other men gathered in the house were stunned and wondered who this man was that would forgive such ugliness. But Jesus saw past what the rest chose to see and saw to the core of this woman that was searching for love.

“And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” {Luke 7:50 NLT}

At the feet of Jesus the woman with the alabaster jar was covered with a blanket of pure, white, fresh snow. She was reconciled to the Lord-new and complete. Others looked at her in awe, wondering how such a wretch deserved a second thought. As I close my bible that had been collecting dust for so long- my life is changed. This woman that lived ages upon ages ago revealed to me who God is and how much he loves us. It wasn’t the beautiful fragrance that covered a sinner’s stain- it was a bold act of faith and a merciful God that saved. It wasn’t perfect character that was reconciled to the goodness of God- it was a desperate plea, a humble submission. Marveling at this truth, my beliefs changed.

Anyone that comes with a past, bad habits, and unhealthy cycles is still a child of the King of Kings. Jesus is waiting in the narrow for his children to come, just as we are. When one walks in faith they will be set free.

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