By: Jenni Walker
“Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place…” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
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The hair mousse I have used recently smells amazing. The other day, I noticed the promised results of this product on the front of the bottle: “Boosts body, fullness, and lift.” I thought about how the fragrance of this hair product would mean nothing if it did not also meet its intended purpose. The smell and the purpose go hand-in-hand.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Ladies, when we keep our hearts postured in loving surrender to Christ and process at His feet with sensitivity to His Holy Spirit, we will naturally become the fragrance of Christ and grow in God-given purpose that permeates our lives and everything around us! But before we proceed, my heart feels a sense of caution: Our culture is constantly seeking the promise that my hair mousse boasts of in many temporary ways – looking for one more way to get just a little more body, a little more fullness and satisfaction, or a pick-me-up to get us through the day. Signs like “A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus” adorn endcaps at home décor stores, and callers to Christian radio stations often gush how the songs help “make them feel better when they’re having a tough day.”
Sisters in Christ, as you read on, remember that godly purpose is not just so we have a “pick-me-up” for our souls or for us to “just stay positive” when things feel more challenging than usual. Real, godly purpose takes courage and comes from the One whose feet we sit at day-by-day, even moment-by-moment. It is the unshakable purpose of knowing and experiencing HIM. In so doing, He fashions our hearts and lives and gives them HIS sanctified “body, fullness, and lift,” and HE permeates our lives with His fragrance. Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (NLT). Let us be careful and intentional not just to seek an outcome, a boost, or a lift from our Lord at the expense of seeking and knowing HIM.
In this series of “At His Feet” posts, we have been looking at the example of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Our third, concluding encounter with Mary gives us a powerful picture of permeating purpose found at the feet of Jesus. John 12:1-3 describes:
“Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
During this time period in history, oil was used for many things including anointing, burials, and beauty routines. There was no cosmetics aisle at Walgreens; oil was of great value and would have been an important part of beautifying themselves. When Mary “poured out” this oil on the feet of Jesus, she didn’t just pour out something physical. She was showing that her whole life belonged to Him, and it was also testifying of HIS purpose and pending death (and even resurrection) on the cross.
There is beauty in pouring ourselves out completely for our Lord! THAT is what we are called to. Jesus did not come to earth merely to make our lives better on our own terms. His words to His disciples in Matthew 10:34-39 are not ones you’ll see on a t-shirt or that allow for just a few drops of ourselves poured out here and there. They are gritty, clear, and describe a permeating purpose that cannot be shaken:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Our purpose is HIM. Our promise is HIM. Our very life is HIM!
At the feet of our Lord (our LORD!), we receive purpose from JESUS and identity in HIM, as we come to know HIM more, and it PERMEATES our lives in testimony of who HE is! The Scripture passage in John 12 tells us that the house was FILLED with the fragrance of the oil that Mary poured out on the feet of her Lord. It was symbolic of Him giving everything and her giving Him her whole self in return.
“The Lord has done great things for us…”
It is with these weighty, glorious truths in mind and heart that I want to continue the story begun in Parts 1 and 2.
In “At His Feet – Part 1,” we focused on keeping our hearts postured in surrender to our Lord and His Word. I described the following:
For the past four years, my husband and I have experienced a season of life that was not anticipated by either of us. In 2015, we began trying to grow our family and, while not the main focus of this article, I will tell you that we do not yet have any children. I have had a variety of tests and even outpatient surgeries over the last few years to determine the reasons, and I have been told my results, as well as those of my husband, are all what they should be. We should be pregnant. But we’re not. Needless to say, it has been a journey of the heart: of walking with the Lord step-by-step, trusting Him, seeking Him, receiving from Him, and having lived intimately what it truly means to sit at His feet.
(Read the post in its entirety HERE: https://wholeheartedwoman.live/2019/08/29/at-his-feet-part-1/)
In “At His Feet – Part 2,” we explored our Lord’s invitation to us to process at the feet of Jesus, and I continued to share my story:
It would take at least an afternoon of sitting across from one another over coffee to share with you some of the deep things the Lord did in my heart, my husband’s heart, and other “unplanned” kingdom fruit (that was planned by Him all along!) that was born out of this waiting season. I can only tell you here that it was in this season of unknowns that I experienced God in profoundly intimate ways. I learned all the more deeply what it meant not only to stay postured in surrender but to process what was going on in my heart as I drew near to Him.
(Read the post in its entirety HERE: https://wholeheartedwoman.live/2019/09/29/at-his-feet-part-2/)
Now here we are in Part 3, and I have not talked once about the continuation of this journey my husband and I have been in. Well, fasten your seat belts, because I am going to give you the inside, “only God could write this story” scoop!
From the time Bryan and I began trying to get pregnant and entered the season of “waiting to be parents,” until now, the Lord has permeated our lives with His fragrance and so much kingdom fruit! My sister and I led a women’s group that first year, began Wholehearted Woman Ministries shortly thereafter, and co-authored our book! Bryan and I were given opportunities to minister together to other married couples through relational discipleship at our church and in our small group. We participated in a book study of “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby with a couple we had been praying for to grow deeper in the Lord, and the Lord used it mightily in our own lives, too! I was also led by the Lord last year to go back to teaching part-time at a Christian school in Tulsa where I taught sixth grade geography. God laid on my heart that my purpose there was to help those students have His heart for the world as He fashions each of their hearts individually for HIS kingdom purposes (Psalm 33:14-15).
Over two years ago, the Lord also laid on our hearts to take steps toward becoming an adoptive home through Oklahoma DHS. We made the call, filled out paperwork, completed our home study, and participated in hours of required foster/adoptive parenting classes. Then we waited. Month after month went by, and we were not contacted about any children. When we excitedly and finally received information about a little girl months later, the Lord made it clear to us that we were not to proceed with meeting her and, instead, to continue to wait. With so many waiting children, why were we still waiting to become adoptive parents…? (Again, more posturing and processing of the heart at the feet of Jesus and following HIM and seeking HIS purposes no matter what!)
We waited some more, hoped, and kept it in the Lord’s hands, knowing that HE knew what He was doing. And then early this spring, I received a text from our adoption worker asking if we were willing to meet an 18 month old little boy. That Friday, we met his caseworker at the DHS building. We were escorted to a conference room, Bryan and I standing close to one another, and I was handed a bright-eyed, curly-haired little boy…
The rest is history. Today, we are the parents to our son, Xander, and the adoption will be finalized later this year. I am a stay-at-home mom. It still seems a little surreal and, yet, like this is how it has always been. The Lord fulfilled His promises to our hearts in His perfect timing and made them a reality because of who HE is, HIS purposes, and HIS faithfulness. We have been able to tell our story to so many people, saying, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3)!
Above All Else
One of Xander’s first early visits to our home was on a cold Sunday afternoon. Bryan and I had picked him up from his foster mom after church and brought him to our home for the day. When nap time arrived, we were unsure if he would be comfortable yet napping in the pack-and-play in the guest room. We decided to take a “family drive” up the hill a few miles away to see if he would fall asleep for a bit in the car.
We settled Xander into his rear-facing car seat, I buckled in next to him, and Bryan turned on worship music as he started the car. Despite the cold, the sun shone cheerily overheard through the early spring trees, and all three of us quietly looked out the windows as Bryan drove us along the winding, hilly roads. After a few songs, Xander was still awake, but his eyes were getting heavy. He drew his gaze from the window for a moment and looked at me with searching eyes. I stroked his cheek gently. He smiled in a way that I will never forget, leaned his face like a hug against my hand, and was asleep within moments.
As Xander slept and Bryan continued to drive, the song “Come Thou Fount” from Shane and Shane’s “Hymns Live” album began to play.
Here’s my heart
O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Above all else
I adore Your name
Above all else
Tune my heart to sing Your praise
The highest praise
The highest praise
The name above every name
My eyes filled with tears of gratitude. As Xander slept beside me in the back seat, Bryan looked back at me in the rearview mirror, and I could tell he felt the same way. The Lord had demonstrated His loving faithfulness so powerfully in bringing this little one into our lives. When we share the details of how the Lord made us a family, people can hardly help but be in awe of God’s handiwork. (We did not realize until later that the Lord put adoption on our hearts right after Xander was born!) What a beautiful, fulfilled promise and calling! And yet, it was like the Lord was also reminding me in that moment not to lose sight of what I had learned so deeply these past several years: that HE, my Lord and God, was still my purpose above all else.
Tears flow from my eyes and heart even now as I write this. Sisters in Christ, when we pour ourselves out for the cause of Christ, others notice, and the fragrance is not our own but HIS! This is where we find our true purpose, identity, and satisfaction – in knowing Him and helping others to know Him. And at His feet, it is in the strength and love received from HIM.
I pray that this part of my testimony is used by the Lord to encourage your heart and to spur you on to say with unshakable purpose, “Above all else, I adore Your name; above all else, tune my heart to sing Your praise.” May we each have a heart that is postured in wholehearted surrender, that processes ardently with the help of the Holy Spirit, and whose permeating purpose is full of the fragrance of Christ to the glory of God. May we, like Mary, stay at His feet!
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