I have a special bond with nature.
I admire it probably more than I should. I drive the same route to work, to church, to town just about every single day and there’s one piece of nature that I can’t help but think about and admire as I drive. In the middle of an open field, the field surrounded by a multitude of trees and a creek and houses as a fence around the barren area, stands one lone tree.
I love lone trees. I enjoy watching them throughout the seasons. I relish in their beauty in the fall, and feel a tinge of sorrow for them in the winter. Oh, I know all the trees that surround this tree and the open field will all lose their leaves as the snow approaches but this lone tree loses them obviously sooner than the others. The limbs no longer reach upward toward the heavenly skies but jut out in a random array of mangled twigs and gnarly branches. It is not a pretty tree by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s loneliness is a haunting beauty that one can’t help but wonder about the “life” it’s lived.
But to stand alone.
Standing alone is a brave task.
It’s this standing alone that brings me to this post today.
Have you ever felt alone? Like no one could understand you? Like no one wanted to understand you? You stand alone in an empty field, barren and broken.
The tree I like watching through the seasons reminds me of myself. We all go through our own seasons of growth and we go through our seasons of dying off or feeling alone and we suffer loneliness and brokenness in this life. But often, I feel like that tree and believe no one could ever truly relate to the events that have taken place in my life.
I’m also reminded of a story which took place in the bible thousands of years ago. Jesus and His disciples had been walking along ministering to people over the course of days, weeks, maybe even months at the time of this story. Their feet, possibly bare, and wearing flimsy sandals at best, had traveled over dirty roads, dusty pathways, and rocky terrain. Their feet and the feet of Jesus were possibly scarred from injury, possibly wound infested, but most definitely dirty and smelly at the introduction of this story.
As found in Luke chapter 7, here the story goes as follows:
Jesus had been invited for dinner at the home of a Pharisee (one of the traditional Jewish people, and a religious leader of the Jews). As the dinner was about to be served, Jesus reclined at the table in wait for the meal. In comes what the bible describes as a “sinful woman”. We don’t know how she was allowed into this Pharisee’s home or if she had crept in quietly, unbeknownst to the men gathered there. But she had heard that this Jesus was here in this home and she had made her way to Him for one purpose.
To wash His feet.
But it was the woman who received
the best gift that night.
She knelt at Jesus’ feet and we are told she brought her alabaster jar of perfume (alabaster is a fine white material used to carve ornaments and jars into). This jar contained the woman’s perfume, possibly the perfume she used in her sinful life. Some commentaries deduce that this woman was a prostitute or “woman of the night.” She had seduced many men with her charm, her appeal, her looks, her perfume. And yet, this woman thought she could bring that alabaster jar and anoint the feet of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. In fact, she brought to Him all she had to offer. She had no riches, no fame, no true reason to believe Jesus would even see her, let alone greet her with a holy kiss or warm compassionate embrace.
Still, she came to those dirty feet of the Master.
And as she knelt, she began to cry over His feet. We aren’t told why she cried, but we can believe that she cried out her sins to the Man who knew her sins already. He knew her sinful life and loved her unconditionally. The woman then used her hair which should have been put up and covered, as was customary, to dry her own tears from Jesus’ feet, kissed his feet, and poured her perfume over them.
The Pharisee, indignant, asked himself how Jesus, this self-proclaimed prophet, one who could see into the future and knew things a simple man or even a religious leader did not know–surely this Jesus knew that this woman was sinful and should not be near such a religious bunch of men. She was not allowed to associate with such people; surely Jesus knew her sins and her lifestyle. How on earth could He allow this woman to touch Him, let alone become so intimate and close to Him?
We pick up in verse 40 of chapter 7.
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Jesus then goes on to speak directly to the Pharisee, keeping His eyes on the woman, comparing the woman and what she offered versus what he had offered.
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
And again, to the sinful woman, Jesus replies,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This woman. How dare she! How dare she come into this Pharisee’s house and act the way she did in front of his guest! How dare she bring her sinful perfume used to lure men into lust and pour it out over Jesus, this religious teacher!
Yes, how dare she.
I love this woman. I’ve been this woman. Oh, I’ve never lived her lifestyle, but I have been reduced to my sinful nature and have hit rock bottom before the Lord. I have made mistakes and committed my own sins that Jesus has forgiven me from. And if the truth be told, I’m still a sinful woman. I sin likely daily. Whether it be my attitude or my thoughts or my actions, I know I’m far from perfect in the eyes of the “religious leaders” and in the sight of God. But still, I come. Like this woman, I come and bring whatever I have to offer at the feet of Jesus.
But here’s the kicker.
The woman came alone.
Like the tree in the middle of the field I described, she stood, rather knelt alone. Like the tree, exposed, this woman came to Jesus, knowing He knew her sin before she could even utter one word. Like the tree with gnarly limbs and ugliness in appearance, this woman came to Jesus broken and “useless” in the sight of men but was embraced as precious and even forgiven in the sight of the Savior.
And yet, she approached Jesus alone.
No one forced her to attempt this act.
She came alone.
And in her loneliness and vulnerability, she was forgiven immediately. Her faith in Jesus made her whole and worthy of His love and grace and mercy.
But she came alone. Standing alone is a brave thing to do. And this woman came to Jesus.
*Author’s note: My name is Phoenix. I’m just a simple gal living a simple life for God. I’m a wife, mom, teacher, and writer/blogger. I want to let you know how humbled I am that you found my blog and chose to read the words God has given me this day. If you find this, or any other of these writings helpful or encouraging to you or someone you know, please feel free to share with your community/social media/e-mail, etc. I am willing to be used by God and welcome your extension of grace and encouragement.
Blessings to you all. I will rise . . .