Tuesday, 16 May 2017

She Did What She Could - by Deborah Gregg

It's good to pray before I read my Bible, to ask God to speak, and to make sure that I am ready to hear.

Here's a verse and a prayer I found online (can't remember where!) that I journaled into a bookmark for my 'reading' Bible.

When I'm reading my Bible, prayerfully and expecting to hear from God, I'm often find that there are certain words or  phrases I am particularly drawn to by the Holy Spirit, and that's what I love to journal! I especially love to discover something new that I hadn't seen before in a familiar verse or passage.

Here's a journal page that is really meaningful to me, and I'll try to explain why.

In this familiar passage in Mark chapter 14, Jesus was annointed with the jar of expensive perfume, as the woman poured this on his head, amid fierce criticism. I love how Jesus defends her saying, "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Mark 14:6-9 NIV)

I read this passage again back in February, at a time when God was speaking to me about my need to surrender to Him, every single area of my life.

For me this beautiful story shared how this amazing woman did what she could - she surrendered all she had - her most precious possession - to Jesus. And how He loved her, and honoured her! And gifted her with the blessing of a lasting legacy of honour. And as her story is shared today, God continues to speak through her actions and Jesus' words to her - and to us.

To me, the phrase 'She did what she could' really struck me - yes she could have sold the jar and given the money to the poor, and that would have been commendable. (In fact that's what Jesus told to rich young ruler to go and do!) But instead she offered and used what she had, in the way that she felt led to, in order to honour Jesus - even at huge risk of criticism and backlash from others. She was obedient to what she was called to do with the gift she had to offer. Jesus said she did a beautiful thing.

Ephesians 2:10 says: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." We have all been created in order to be given a job to do, that God has assigned to us individually, that no-one else can do quite like us!

I created this page in my journal to try to reflect my own response to God to this passage. It's my first attempt at a self-portrait (!) and though not perfect it came out a bit better than I'd thought it would! I used my Inktense pencils to colour this page, I love the vibrant colours. I did smudge the colours with a damp brush after colouring, as this really lifts the colours, but only a little bit as I quite liked the pencil marks. I then used a Micron pen to outline and to add the wording.

I have deliberately not shared this until now in the main Facebook page, because I was concerned that the full meaning of this passage would not be reflected in these 5 words! I felt that the phrase 'She did what she could' might be mis-interpreted as 'Well, she tried!' or 'She gave it her best shot!' or 'She had a go!' - all of which seem a bit negative with a hint of failure. Completely the opposite of what Jesus actually said, and meant!

Let's respond to Jesus' call to offer our very best - all that we are and all that we have - surrendered to Him. Don't we long to hear His words over us, saying 'She has done a beautiful thing to me...she did what she could.'

So it's been good for me to be able to write a few words here about the context of this verse in the passage, and its application in our lives. Sometimes when doing Bible Art Journaling it can be easy to be drawn towards key 'catchy' phrases or verses we love but may be over-familiar with. Let's remember to read the whole passage - to study God's Word diligently and to try to establish some context. We don't have to be Bible Scholars - the message of the Gospel is for everyone! But let's make sure we prayerfully read around our verses that we are journaling, to gain a greater understanding of God's Word to us. That's how God's Word will speak deeply to us, and meditating on His Word will bring transformation to our lives.

Another example of this is the familiar verse: 'Draw near to God and he will draw near to you'. I love this so much and it has provided encouragement and comfort to me time and again over the years. Yet, in context - this is actually only a tiny snippet in the middle of a whole section of very strong words all about repentance from sins!
'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded! Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." James 4:7-12 (NIV)
Same verse, still with the comfort that God will lift us up and draw near to us - but much more challenging when read in full context! We're not just to draw near to God, but we're to fully repent from all our sins and change our lifestyles too!

That is another example of living a life of surrender. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price. Let's offer our lives fully, completely, utterly surrendered in His Love.

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