The spring rains are just beginning and with them comes the promise of at least a few good rumblers. Last year saw an exceptional storm-season here in western North Dakota, with more than one tornado spree and some good old fashioned hail storms.
There is a line in the movie Little Women, in which Jo March, in response to a remark that she should have been a lawyer, quips “I should have been a great many things”. I suspect that statement applies to many of us.
Of the great-many-things on my husband’s list, Storm Chaser would have to be near the top. Nothing animates him quite like the impending arrival of a good thunderstorm. While the rest of us take comfort in being safely grounded, his brain seems to share a synergy with the electrostatically charged atmosphere —as though he is momentarily aligned with his true self.
Being raised a Michigan kid meant storms were an elemental part of life and, though perhaps not to the same degree as my hubby, I do enjoy a good storm. Consequently when a storm was forecast our kids had a 50/50 chance of finding themselves in the shelter of the basement, or the back seat of our van chasing down a better view.
I’ve witnessed many a dark cloud forming on the horizon of a farm field, rolling fiercely across the landscape with trees bending in submission before being swallowed up in the passing fury.
The air takes on a distinctive quality just before a storm hits. It feels different. It smells different. Maybe it’s the drop in barometric pressure, the increase in ozone, or the change in humidity; or a combination of these factors. Whatever the cause when you’ve experienced enough storms you can sense their arrival even before they appear. So I recognized the feeling in the air this morning as the storm approached.
It came in fast and hit hard. There I was worshiping in church alongside my husband, daughter and son-in-law when, before I even had a chance to batten down the hatches, I was enveloped in all-too-familiar darkness. Memories flashed like lightning, taking me back to my run-away years when I foolishly left the shelter of my Father’s arms and ran headlong into the wilderness of my own fleshly desires.
Within moments, a deluge of shame and regret flooded my heart and the weight of my past threatened to pull me under.
I recalled a scene from The Pilgrim’s Progress – the moment Christian climbs the hill of Calvary and approaches the cross. The straps of his pack slip loose from his shoulders; his heavy burden falls from his back and rolls down the hill into an empty tomb. He is overjoyed as he feels, for the first time on his journey, blessed relief from the unbearable weight of his own sin.
My own back-pack was relinquished at the cross when I was a little girl. Subsequent disobedience and sin in my early 20’s added weight that my innocent child-self could not have imagined; a burden the Father never wanted me to carry.
More than once, I have re-climbed that hill to lay it down again. Yet today, somehow, that old familiar weight found me again.
Our pastor opened the altar for prayer. I couldn’t get there fast enough. I dropped to my knees as the tears began to flow in torrents. As I prayed I was transported back in time to an orange clay house in a little town near Capernaum. The room was crowded, but I was unaware of everything and everyone, except Jesus. I was the sinful woman with her bottle of perfume, weeping at His feet.
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Luke 7:36-38
I’ve heard more than one sermon pointing out the extravagant cost of the perfume in that woman’s bottle, and that was undoubtedly the case. Fragrant oil in an alabaster bottle would have cost this woman a small fortune. Yet the price paid is not as significant as the means by which she paid for it.
I believe it is reasonable to assume the oil poured on Jesus’ feet that day was purchased with dirty money; proceeds this woman had earned peddling her body to men. That perfume was a tool of her stock-in-trade, used to entice would-be customers. It was symbolic of her livelihood, her financial security.
I suspect this fragrant oil was more costly than anyone in that room could have known. It represented her descent into darkness. In addition to her body, she had traded her innocence, self-worth, and basic human dignity for the suffocating bondage of sin.
The perfume may have smelled fragrant and luxurious to others in the room, but to her it carried the aroma of her guilt and shame. Desperate for forgiveness from a sin-burden she could no longer bear, she offered it to Jesus. She knew full well that the alabaster bottle contained only filthy rags, but it was all she had to give. Humbly falling at His feet, she poured it all out. Her tears of repentance flowed freely.
Jesus heard the unspoken cry of her heart, “I’m done. I’m turning from my sin. I recognize that I need you. Please forgive me”.
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven… Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:48, 50
As I knelt praying at my own altar, I was reminded that all He requires of me is to pour it out at His feet. It was as though I could hear Him whisper to me, “Pour it out, Tabitha. Just pour it out. All of it”.
So I did. All of it. The guilt. The shame. The hurt and the scars. The regret that breaks my heart over and over again. I wept and I prayed. And though no words were actually formed, my spirit knew He heard every word.
I know my sin was forgiven long ago, when I first climbed to the foot of the Cross. He washed me white as snow that day. My sin burden rolled into that empty tomb and He cast it from His memory, as far as the east is from the west.
It’s me that needs the reminder that I am no longer that woman of sin. I am a daughter of the King. My rags have been replaced with a robe of white. I am loved. I am cherished. I am His.
This morning, His radiant face and eternal love chased away yet another storm.
Jesus is waiting at the altar. He has already poured out His blood as payment for your sin. Now he invites you to rest at His feet.
Bring your sorrow. Bring your pain, your regret and your brokenness. Bring your dreams, your hopes and your desires. Pour it all out at Jesus feet. There you will find forgiveness, acceptance, unconditional love and a fresh start.
Let Him speak to you in the storm today!
©2018 Tabitha Meglich Photo: Shutterstock
[Written Sunday, April 8]