I’ve a love-hate relationship with a computer game. At times I’m bored or feel like winning, or haven’t the inclination to do something more productive, or just want to work the other side of my brain, so I think it won’t hurt to play just one game. Then I wind up playing ten games and am mad at myself for wasting all that time. After a couple sessions like that, I uninstall the thing and leave it in the box, at least until I get the urge again.
The problem is not the game. Even when it’s not installed, I have trouble knowing where to focus my time. I get frustrated with hours wasted on trivia, wasted mostly because I’m not sure what is the most important so I wind up doing nothing of value. How dumb is that?
I’m that way with both time and money. I don’t want to waste the small income that I have, spending it on trivia in a confusing world. There are many important areas where money can be poured, but I struggle with making decisions about what to do with it, where to invest it, who and where it can best be used, so I wind up not doing anything for lack of being sure what I should do.
This morning I’m reading about the woman, likely Mary, the sister of Martha, who poured out her entire living on Jesus. “In Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, 'Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.' And they criticized her sharply.”
I understand the indignant reaction of the disciples. If I spent the entire day in prayer and worship, my inner critic would be yelling at me for wasting my time, criticizing myself with thoughts like, there is enough to do without doing nothing all day.
But I also understand Mary. She had something of value and wanted to invest it wisely. She didn’t want to pour it into “a bag of holes” nor into something that had no eternal value. She wanted to give it away, but give it in such a way that it had eternal value.
By pouring it out on Jesus, which seemed like an utter waste to her critics, Jesus gave it that value that she longed for, and may not have expected.
He said to the disciples, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Mary’s outpouring is in Scripture, and the Word of God stands forever. Besides that, whenever I think of her, I think of her complete devotion to Jesus. Others consider such devotion a waste of time, effort and money, but He not only approved of what she did but gave it eternal value.
This humbles me, and yet is difficult to grasp. I know my ‘god’ has been accomplishment. Do it. Do it well. Do lots. Be busy. Yet my God bids me to rest in Him, not worry about tomorrow or fret over today’s to-do list. I’m to listen for His voice and respond to whatever He says. I’m to ignore that inner voice that tells me to get busy (like Martha in Luke 10:40) and instead sit at His feet as Mary did (Martha was her ‘inner critic’) and learn from Him.
In Mark, Jesus said she anointed Him for His burial. The disciples were clueless when He talked about His coming death, but Mary knew, and Mary did what she could. I wonder if she knew simply because she slowed down long enough to listen?