ALABASTER FLASK

She broke the alabaster flask. & with it, her identity shattered to pieces.
I can only imagine how hard she cried.
Enough tears to wash His feet.
Her long hair, now caked with mud & pretty face, now red with tears—
she gave up her desire to be the awe of man.
She was in awe of the Lord; so, she washed His feet.
& He washed her heart.
I can’t count the times I’ve held a “street”-girl, opened my eyes from a prayer & looked down to see the sidewalk, dotted with tears.
If I could catch her tears…
They know life is not supposed to be this way, but they can’t fathom grace to change or that forgiveness is for them. They think mercy was forever lost on the first early morning they took the money from the hotel bedside table & walked home alone.
If I could catch her tears, I’d put them in an alabaster flask. I’d tell her to take it to Jesus.
To be in awe of Him. To wash His feet. To break the flask of tears that He’s already counted.
& she will be “forgiven—for she loved much.”
Then I’ll show her my muddy hair & wet cheeks, my broken flask—we’re not that different.
Her & I,
& you:
all big sinners, shattered on the floor,
in need of a big Savior who,
with tear-soaked feet & scarred hands, stoops down to say,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7

SOUR MANGOS

She handed me two unripe mangos her family had picked earlier that day from trees that were not ready.

Minutes before,

hot tears were dripping off her cheeks onto the cool, concrete floor of that small house. In my broken Spanish, I had asked her how she was & she opened her heart to me like she had opened her home.

“My husband’s motorcycle is broken, so he can’t go to work. We don’t have money for food. All we have is these unripe mangos.”

She didn’t want help, only prayer.

So, I did.

But before I left, she handed me those mangos.

I really had no need or desire for them & I didn’t want to accept them, but she insisted & in the Dominican culture, you don’t reject a gift.

I kissed her “thank you,” & dropped the mangos in my bookbag where they fell in place next to my Bible.

I walked out of the house & the face of my heart fell in the dirt.

Her young family was starving, yet she chose generosity. I’d just received the priceless gift of sacrifice.

It’s said, “in giving, we receive,” but I’ve grown to think that, sometimes, in receiving, we give.

When we only give, we control what & how much is given. It usually doesn’t make us admit our humanness. In fact, our put-togetherness seems to be measured by how much we give.

But when we receive, the situation is out of our control. We accept the best (or worst) gifts with gratitude & that makes us vulnerable, doesn’t it? To say a genuine “thank you” for something we don’t want or need is letting the tables of the relationship be turned–some might even call it debt.

But vulnerability is not debt.

When we are vulnerable enough to receive, others are accepted at the cost of our own pride.

In the same way,

receiving Christ costs us our lives, our right to control; it requires us to admit our need & enables us to humbly give Him thanks.

We find the faces of our hearts pressed against the dirt in gratitude.

Because, sometimes, saying “thank you” is the most we can give back.

So, receive the sacrifice. Live vulnerable to the gift-giver. Feel the dirt of gratitude on your face.

For in receiving sour mangos, I’m learning the thankfulness of giving my life.

(photo: mango juice-stained pages of my Bible, a daily reminder to first receive.)

I’LL REMEMBER

I’ll remember.

I’ll remember when others betrayed me & used me,

but You restored my purpose. You saw me:

Jehovah-Roi.

I’ll remember when my obedience to You cost me everything,

but You were faithful to me, my provision:

Jehovah-Jireh.

I’ll remember when I was manipulative & in the wrong,

but Your almighty will was still done:

El Shaddai.

I’ll remember when I finally tasted deliverance & then feared of the unknowns,

but You healed and protected me:

Jehovah-Rapha.

I’ll remember when the battle seemed bigger than me,

but You were my war cry, my banner of victory:

Jehovah-Nissi.

I’ll remember when You called me to set Your people free & the danger it meant for me,

but You were my peace:

Jehovah-Shalom.

-The Lord Sees-

-The Lord Will Provide-

-God Almighty-

-The Lord Who Heals-

-The Lord is My Banner-

-The Lord is Peace-

These are Your Names.

So, let my name forever be:

I’ll remember.

___

[Genesis 16:13, 22:14, 28:3, 15:26. 17:15, Judges 6:24]

JEHOVAH-JIREH

Obedience is sacrifice, so where’s the sacrifice?

This is a question I’ve had on my heart.

This culture I live in is designed so that I can go nearly a whole day without making any sacrifices. I can eat what I want, when I want. I can hang out with the friends of my choosing. I can wear what I want. I can spend all my time how I choose. I can live selfishly.

But then, where’s my cross? Continue reading “JEHOVAH-JIREH”

GRATITUDE

I remember walking into her house. I specifically remember how empty it was.

Similar to the numerous other brightly painted concrete houses we’d been in and out of, there wasn’t much furniture to begin with, but she–

She had barely anything. Cold walls and floors in sharp contrast to the relentless Dominican heat. I don’t know where her family was, if she had a family, but she was probably only a little older than me, I think.

We asked about her name, her age, her life; frankly, I don’t remember her answers because I can only remember her response to our question: how can we pray for you?

Her response changed my life. And I believe, friend, that it will change yours too, if you let it. Continue reading “GRATITUDE”

TO CONNECT IN LOVE

If you want, jump back a few posts to read the rest of this series!

I pray that you would let these stories connect you. I pray that you would seek more than the instant world around you. I pray that you would tear down the buffers between yourself and poverty because buffers separate; buffers encourage numbness. I pray that the Lord breaks your heart over what you discover when you begin or continue to search to better understand the similarities that you have with people all over the world; they may speak a different language, be a different race or hold a different social status, but there is one thing that can bind us all:

Continue reading “TO CONNECT IN LOVE”