How do you feel about awkward moments? I tend to avoid them, steer clear of them, stay away from them. I have a friend who is learning that sometimes, you have to be awkward and that's okay, as long as you are being obedient to God's will. She's totally right, and I am thankful that God is using her to teach me the same lesson in my life.
As I was reading the following passage this week, I realized that for the woman, what was supposed to be a beautiful thing had just turned into a terribly awkward, embarrassing moment. See for yourself:
"Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at the table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, 'Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.' But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, 'Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.'" [Matthew 26.6-13, ESV]
This woman's love for Jesus caused her to take a precious gift and lavish it on Jesus. It was an audacious act, a brave act, and it was immediately criticized. Imagine it from the disciples' point of view: some random woman comes up and pours a bottle of really expensive perfume all over his head. What a mess! It must have dripped everywhere, run down into his face, pooled on the floor. "How silly!" some of them must have thought. "How absurd and wasteful!" How hurtful! How mortified the unnamed woman must have felt when the disciples began to mutter among themselves; her beautiful sacrifice turned suddenly into burning shame, incredible embarrassment. What a fool she must felt!
Sometimes our lives feel like that. We take what we are sure is a beautiful gift, a dream of doing something right, something well, doing it excellently, and then something happens. People begin to mutter, they start to speak against our acts of love and obedience and all at once what was beautiful assurance is pressing doubt. "Am I good enough? How could I think I could really do that?" Our dreams of honor become rags of shame inwardly, and weapons of defensiveness outwardly.
But how does Jesus respond? With just a few words Jesus takes the woman's shame and turns it into honor. He recognizes her desire to do something beautiful for him and he affirms and honors it, so much that we still tell her story to this day. Because of her act, Christ was glorified. It wasn't a selfish act, an attention seeking act, instead it was a deed of love and adoration.
Only Christ can take our shame and turn it to honor. Only Christ can speak words into our lives that lead us to continued worship, continued gratefulness, continued humility and yet honor us. He sees our eager dreams, our desire to do something beautiful for him, and he does not leave us to live in shame. May we walk no longer in that shame, but instead glory in the transforming power of Christ in our lives. For each and every one of our weaknesses, our downfalls, our embarrassing moments that should have been beautiful acts, they are all a testament to our great need for Christ, to his redemptive work. May he speak in our lives and may he turn our shame to honor.