“I had a dream last night”, she said. “I came to see you and show you my beautiful perfume bottle. I couldn’t wait to show it to you … It was ornate and beautiful, and I was so very proud of it. And you were so happy for me, relishing in my joy over such a lovely treasure. Then you turned around and picked something up that was just outside my vision. And when you turned back, you were holding your own perfume bottle. It was so much larger than mine. So much prettier. I was humbled by the comparison, and while still rejoicing over mine, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the beauty of yours.”
“One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. So He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down for supper. There, a woman of the city who was a sinner, when she learned that Jesus was sitting for supper in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment, and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:36-38 (MEV)
This may not be the exact wording the daughter-of-my-heart used when she called me last year to tell me of her dream, but it is a fair representation. Then she went on to explain she felt the perfume bottle represented the beauty of my love for and relationship with God. (She knows my history, and knows the hard-fought battles won and sacrifices I’ve made over the years to get to the place of freedom I enjoy today).
Her interpretation of the dream stuck around with me for a few weeks after our call. It sounded so beautiful, depicting a precious and intimate relationship with God, of the kind that is symbolized by an expensive perfume bottle. But in truth, I was in a spiritual frump and had been for months.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that in May of 2014 I stepped into the world of entrepreneurship. Much of my writings in 2014 and 2015 had to do with what the Lord was teaching me through the process of “Water Walking”, and if you’ve not read that blog and the continuing story up through “Crossing Jordan” I encourage you to take a little time to do so. Anyways, the painting below was a word picture the Lord gave me while I was praying about leaving my job and starting out on my own; an image to capture those very first steps leaving dry ground and venturing out into the waters with God.
Water Walking [“Once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water beneath your feet is irrelevant.”]But by the time I got this call in 2017, I was far enough out that all I could see was dark inky ocean. No matter where I turned, all I saw was “more water”, and to be honest …. I was getting weary.
“Lord, isn’t there supposed to be a shoreline around here somewhere? I thought we were going TO someplace, not just hanging out in deep ocean spaces …. where I could drown at any moment, btw!”
Yes, I was feeling discouraged, and weary, and as I like to say … “wobbly”.
And the more I thought about her dream, and this lovely perfume bottle I supposedly had in my possession, another word picture began to form in my heart. But in this one, Miss. Hope was no longer ‘water walking’ but was now kneeling in deep inky waters. Her head is bowed. Her arms are raised. And in her hands, she lifts the offering of an uncorked perfume bottle. Spent of all her own abilities and powers, she has come to the point of emptiness and with each new rush of wind blowing across the waters, the fragrance of her surrendered heart rises like the offering it is.
“And I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s Alabaster Box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
You don’t know the cost of my praise
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my Alabaster box”
~final chorus of Alabaster Box, Cece Winans
I have tried to paint this word picture at least seven times since that phone call, but I have never been satisfied … deeply, internally, and spiritually satisfied with my efforts until last week, March 15th. I woke that morning at 1:30 am and when I couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to try again to capture what was in my heart. And this time, the Holy Spirit painted with me.
Personally, I think the Lord let me finish it now because it’s time to move on. I followed where He lead me, even out into deep water with wild and boisterous winds. He has received my sacrifice of praise and tears. And now, praise God almighty, we are moving to the shoreline!!
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, hurray for you and Miss Hope. But I’m still stuck out here in a leaky lifeboat, in the middle of nowhere, at midnight, during a full-blown squall! How is your finally heading off to the shoreline supposed to be an encouragement for me?”
I’m glad you asked.
When I began praying in December 2017 about the subject of a 2018 blog series, I felt impressed to write in response to the desperate need I saw (in my own life as well as in the world all around me) for a focus on hope.
Yes, we need more kindness in the world! Yes, we need more “positivity” and less fear! But that’s not the kind of HOPE I’m talking about.
What we need, and the only thing capable of effecting real change in this world, is Bible-HOPE in the goodness and willingness of God Himself to enter into the broken areas of our lives and bring about deliverance, healing, and change! Thus, what I’m calling for in my own life and hope to inspire in the lives of those who are willing to read this blog is a dedication to daily (throughout 2018 and beyond) putting our focus on the Author of HOPE, His character of lovingkindness and faithfulness, and His word as contained in Scripture.
For those of you who are in a leaky lifeboat … there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
Maybe you can relate to my imagery of being out in deep waters with no shoreline in sight … there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
Or perhaps the storms of life have been beating at you long and hard, even to the point that your boat is on the verge of sinking … there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
This is what we need, my friends! We need to go to the Word of God daily, find the promises that relate to our current needs, and take hold of them as though our very lives depended upon them!
This is what it looks like to put your FAITH in the HOPE of God, and this is the kind of FAITH that God will always honor!! Maybe not in the time frame we want it … God’s timing is not our timing. But His timing is perfect timing, for He alone can see how all things are ultimately fitting together for the glory of His name as well as our long-term benefit.
I’ve got a new word picture forming in my heart for a new season of Bible-HOPE in the promises of God! I hope you will continue to journey with me, for there is much to do and much ahead for us who will dare to put our confidence and trust in Him.
When was the last time you uncorked your alabaster jar and surrendered up the fragrance of its contents? I’d love to hear your story, past or current.