On Monday I spoke at high school devotions on the topic of Mary’s act of worship and service toward Jesus when she anointed his hair and feet with perfumed oil. It is my favorite passage in the Bible. After the message, one of the teachers brought me a copy of Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Life.” He had marked out the last chapter for me to read because it went along with what I had spoken about.
Wow. It was awesome. I’ve never read this whole book before, but this chapter was just incredible. It speaks of our opportunity to be like the worship Mary offered to Jesus at the time. Remember, the disciples (led by a negative comment from Judas) even chastised Mary for “wasting” something that could have been sold and used to feed the poor or something else useful. Nee’s point in his book is that we should be willing to waste ourselves for Christ in the same way. We should not see a quiet or even suffering life as a failure, but we should see ourselves being wasted in the eyes of the world.
Gary Thomas, in his book called Sacred Pathways, describes several different spiritual temperaments. One is the contemplative and Mary is a perfect example. He suggests devotional acts of secrecy if you want to feed the contemplative in you. One option is to write a poem or letter for God and then burn it. That way you know it is just for Him and no one else.
I live in the middle of a cornfield and it is tempting to believe that I have been overlooked. I don’t feel overlooked by God but sometimes I think others may be saying about me, “She should really get out into the real world and DO something BIG for God.” And maybe I should. But for right now, I’m happy serving my students, caring for my children, and learning to love Jesus more. I’m O.K. being “wasted” right now. It’s all for Him.
My daughters are learning about Jesus in Sunday School. A few weeks ago they acted out the portion of Scripture where Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him. In their pre-school world this was great fun involving hand motions and walks around the room. They laughed and giggled telling me all about it, â€œI told Claire – follow me – and she gotted up and we skipped to Teacher!â€ In real life I donâ€™t think discipleship hardly ever involves skipping. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a deep book on the subject and cost is the key word in his title.
Iâ€™ve always found the cost to be pretty high. A friend of mine was recently accepted to West Point and began her summer in boot camp. While the rest of her high school friends were sucking the fun out of their last summer before college, Charity went straight into Hell Week, or something like it. Reports to home included the horror story that she had been in trouble one day for smiling too much. We were instructed to send her mail only if it was in a plain white envelope with her name and address in a very exact manner. The instructions alone seemed so complicated that I gave up even thinking about sending her a note â€“ I wouldnâ€™t want my Hallmark stamp to get her 20 push-ups or something!
But just as I really started to worry about sweet-spirited Charity in such an unkind environment, I had a vision of her graduating from West Point in a bright uniform and shiny hat. I remembered the honor that it was to be a West Point cadet and I felt proud. Sure, what she was facing was difficult and intense, but what she would receive â€“ the honor, respect, and admiration â€“ would be worth it.
Charity is paying the price right now, the cost of discipleship, but in a few years she will reap the benefits. She will stand out in the world as a Rare Rock. Iâ€™m going to remember this the next time I want my discipleship process to look more like skipping and less like plain white envelopes. Iâ€™m going to remember not just the cost of discipleship but also its reward: a walk around the room of life with Jesus!