As I write this, Steve and I are in Ethiopia getting to know the team at Sodo Christian Hospital. I have the utmost respect for them as they teach and train local doctors.
Whenever we’re in Africa there are certain commonalities. One is the driving. In the back of the van, I watch as our driver expertly manages crowded streets, avoiding people, children, donkeys, goats, buses, and little buggies. Another common thing is wildlife. Steve gets very excited about wildlife. Me? Well… Outside the little cottage where we are staying is a Kite bird…I call it a “Bomber bird.” I’ve been warned he can swoop in at any time and attack your head. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced that yet.
I wrote in my journal this morning, “Lord, whenever we’re in Africa, I’m painfully aware of my weaknesses.” As I was reflecting and processing those weaknesses with the Lord this morning, He reminded me of the story in Mark 14:1-9.
Jesus was eating at the home of Simon the Leper. Jesus had already healed Simon. Perhaps he is the man mentioned in Matthew 8:1-4 or the one leper who returned and said, “thank you” after Jesus healed the ten (Luke17:11-19). In any case, I imagine Simon felt so grateful that he threw a dinner party and invited Jesus. The party was held in the town of Bethany where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived. During the party, Mary came with expensive perfume made of pure nard. Pure nard was a perfume imported from India and very costly. Many Bible scholars feel it would have cost an entire year’s salary. In other words, this wasn’t some cheap perfume you might purchase on Amazon or at the Ulta beauty store. Mary broke the expensive jar of nard and anointed Jesus’s head. Onlookers were incredulous and judgmental. Isn’t it amazing how quick we are to judge others for their worship? Whether too exuberant or not exuberant enough? Jesus, however, is moved deeply by the sacrifice of Mary’s worship. He told those judging, “Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Then Jesus said, “She did what she could” (Mark 14:8). I love that! If your Bible is open, why don’t you circle those words?
Often we are tempted to think, “Am I doing enough?” Or when life feels out of control, we wonder, “What can I do? I feel so helpless!” We might feel that when an adult child goes off the rails, or when we can’t land the job we want, or when our finances are spinning out of control, or when facing relational conflict, or when facing an overwhelming situation.
One of the missionaries serving here in Ethiopia told us sometimes she gets overwhelmed when she sees all the needs in Ethiopia. She can’t fix it all, but she can use her gifts and talents by serving the hospital. I imagine Jesus would say, “She did what she could.”
Olga, who I mentioned last week, can’t save all the women in Ukraine, but she can help those she knows. Jesus says, “She did what she could.”
When I think about Jesus’ words, I am reminded:
When we bring our pure worship, it is enough. Bring your whole self and worship at His feet. That is what delights His heart.
When we spend time loving Jesus and enjoying our relationship with Him, it is enough. Spend time simply enjoying Jesus’ company and relaxing in His love. Jesus loves hanging out with you.
When we bring our gifts and abilities, whether great or small, it is enough. Whether you have great gifts and abilities or small ones, offer them to Him. You won’t be able to change the whole world, but you can change your tiny corner of the world by using your gifts to love others well. Jesus honors that.
When we respect our limits, acknowledging what we can and can’t do, it is enough. God has given us limits in terms of energy, time, money, and gifts. Learn to embrace your limits. Jesus is exalted when we acknowledge He is God and we are not.
Friend, you and I are often going to face overwhelming challenges. We wish we could give more, do more, and be more. Jesus’ gentle words calm our souls. He speaks tenderly, “She did what she could.” That’s all He requires. Rest in Him today and relax in His love.