By Krissa Rumsey
I would like to thank Mark for showing me how dull I really am. Throughout the sermon series on Mark, I have become more and more convinced of my lack of faith. In fact, the older I get, the more I connect with the disciples. You know, the foolish ones who kept asking Jesus about the meaning of His parables, to which Jesus replied, “Don’t you understand this parable?” or (my personal favorite), “Are you so dull?”
This week, we heard the story of the woman who poured out all her perfume, perhaps her most prized possession, to anoint Jesus. I know I would’ve questioned her right along with all the other witnesses, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that’s expensive?!”
Through this story, I heard God telling me to “be generous.” I feel very protective of everything and find it hard to be generous, and I’m not just talking about money. I am protective of my time, my finances, my future, my vocation, my family. To be clear, I wouldn’t say I am greedy. But, I am protective. You name it and I feel as though I alone am responsible for the well-being of it.
Why is this? I’m sure it boils down to a lack of faith.
I am protective of my time, my finances, my future, my vocation, my family.
Here is a simple, and really quite embarrassing , story that represents the battle I have against protecting my time. As is often the case, I was in a rush to be somewhere or get something done. We were out of milk, so I rushed into our local convenience store to grab a gallon. I don’t remember what I was late for or why I needed to grab the milk so feverishly, but I arrived at the cooler, primed and ready to grab my milk and go.
I had it planned. I’m sure my thought process went something like this: If I only spend 30 seconds grabbing the milk, I could conceivably check out and be in the car in another 60 seconds, and be on my way to wherever it was or whatever it was I was supposed to be doing.
As I arrived at the cooler, an old man was already there with the door wide open, pondering which item he should take. He continued to stand there, completely unconcerned that I was right behind him, waiting to get my milk.
He continued to stand there, completely unconcerned that I was right behind him, waiting to get my milk.
While my heart raced impatiently, I resisted the urge to clear my throat or tap my foot. Why didn’t he see me? What was he waiting for? What possesses people to be so rude? As he continued to stand in front of the cooler, preventing me from getting in, I again resisted the urge to speak sternly, but instead mustered a patient and kind, “Pardon me, may I reach in?”
With utter kindness and sincerity, the man looked at me startled, and said, “Of course. Thank you for saying something. You see, I had a stroke recently and lost all my peripheral vision and I can’t see when someone is behind me.” I melted. He literally did not see me standing behind him.
I could’ve rudely made my presence known and stormed off, but whatever it was that allowed me to respond with patience led to an interaction with this man who had obviously been suffering. We chatted for a few minutes after I said something like, “That must be really hard.”
I don’t recall the rest of the conversation, but I know I did not make it out of the store in 90 seconds. I’m sure my quick trip took three times as long, and the timetable I was protecting so carefully was amiss.
I’m sure my quick trip took three times as long, and the timetable I was protecting so carefully was amiss.
My treasures might not be expensive perfume, like the woman in the Bible. Sometimes my treasure is time. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s my job. The point is, what would be the result if protecting those things never entered my consciousness?
What if I stopped more often to engage with others like the old man at the convenience store? What if I put off cleaning my house so I could cook a meal for someone who was in crisis? What if I doubled what I give to my church or favorite charities? What would happen if I stopped to pray not just once, but many times a day?
I know what would happen. The Lord would provide.
I know this because I’ve experienced His blessings and answers to prayer on countless occasions. I’ve asked and it has been given. I know the Lord will provide, not just because I’ve seen Him do it, but because He says so. And as pastor said on Sunday, “If Jesus says it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen!”
If He tells you that you will find a man with a water jug, sure enough that’s what you find! (Mark 14:13) If He says He will be raised from the dead on the third day, He will be raised from the dead. But if you really must see the nail scars, then here they are.
Like the disciples, I have seen and have been told a hundred times what the Lord promises. The story never changes and what Jesus said comes true. But still I am dull.
The story never changes and what Jesus said comes true. But still I am dull.
I don’t quite “get it” to the extent that I should. Yet just like at the last supper, when Jesus knew that those in front of Him would doubt, deny and betray, He still promised His life. He promises and He delivers. His love never fails.