How are you? I’m well.
In a Richard Foster’s book, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christ, he suggested a few contemplative ways we can experience as part of our daily routine and I would like to share one of them:
Third, undermine that perennial, everlasting human itch to get ahead with intentional times of “holy leisure.” Take a nap. Spend an hour visiting with your neighbor about nothing important. Help each other watch the sun go down. Take a walk, not for exercise or to study plant life but for the sheer joy of walking. Stop praying for a day. Listen to the birds — not to get some “message” from them but to hear them. Sit in the silence, doing nothing, having nothing, needing nothing. Take a bath instead of a shower. Waste time for God. The ideas are endless.
When I read the words, “Waste time for God,” I couldn’t agree with him more. Although I didn’t spent long hours in worshipping the Lord recently, one day when I worshiped Him, singing praises, I felt that it’s kind of holy waste of my time. Nobody sees me but the Lord, and I don’t do anything so called “productive.” Yet I thought that my Heavenly Father would enjoy my worshiping Him.
Watchman Nee wrote about “waste” in the last chapter, The Goal of the Gospel of his book, The Normal Christian Life. And he wrote about the story of Mary, who anointed Jesus with the costly oil. And he wrote that not only Judas but other disciples thought it a waste:
But I do not want to dwell too much on Judas. Let us go on to see what was the attitude of the other disciples, because their reaction affects us even more than does his. We do not greatly mind what the world is saying; we can stand that, but we do very much mind what other Christians are saying who ought to understand. And yet we find that they said the same thing as Judas; and they not only said it but they were very upset, very indignant about it.
I have spoken already of a sister whom I knew for a long time and who, I think, is the one by whom I have been helped most. She was used of the Lord in a very real way during those years when I was associated with her, though to some of us at the time this was not so apparent. The one concern in my heart was this:
“She is not used!” Constantly I said to myself, “Why does she not get out and take some meetings, go somewhere, do something? It is a waste for her to be living in that small village with nothing happening!” Sometimes, when I went to see her, I almost shouted at her. I said, “No one knows the Lord as you do. You know the Book in a most living way. Do you not see the need around? Why don’t you do something? It is a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of money, a waste of everything, just sitting here and doing nothing!” But no, brethren, that is not the first thing with the Lord. He wants you and me to be used, certainly. God forbid that I should preach inactivity, or seek to justify a complacent attitude to the world’s need. As Jesus Himself says here, “the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world.” But the question is one of emphasis. Looking back today, I realize how greatly the Lord was in fact using that dear sister to speak to a member of us who, as young men, were at that time in his training school for this very work of the Gospel. I cannot thank God enough for her and for the influence of her life upon me. What, then, is the secret? Clearly it is this, that in approving Mary’s action at Bethany, the Lord Jesus was laying down one things a basis of all service: that you pour out all you have, your very self, unto him; and if that should be all he allows you to do, that is enough. It is not first of all a question of whether “the poor” have been helped or not. That will follow, but the first question is: Has the Lord been satisfied?
Then he went on to write about ministering to His pleasure and he wrote about fragrance:
Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered - someone who has gone through experiences with the Lord that have brought limitation, and who, instead of trying to break free in order to be “used,” has been willing to be imprisoned by him and has thus learned to find satisfaction in the Lord and nowhere else - then immediately you become aware of something. Immediately your spiritual senses detect a sweet savor of Christ. Something has been crushed, something has been broken in that life, and so you smell the odor. …
Oh, to be wasted! It is a blessed thing to be wasted for the Lord. So many who have been prominent in the Christian world know nothing of this. Many of us have been used to the full - have been used, I would say, too much - but we do not know what it means to be “wasted on God.” We like to be always “on the go”: the Lord would sometimes prefer to have us in prison. We think in terms of apostolic journey: God dares to put his greatest ambassadors in chains.
Then, he wrote in the last page of the chapter a few verses and one of them was from 2 Corinthians 2:14:
“But thanks be unto God, which always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and taketh manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place.”
When I read it, I was almost moved into tears, as the very next verse, 2 Corinthians 2:15 was the verse I received from Irene Wong, an artist, when she gave me a prophetic painting with His words back in 2016. Actually it was the verse I had taken to my heart:
“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
After I finished reading the last chapter and the book, too, I opened up my Bible to read these verses in 2 Corinthians. Then, I realized that we are the fragrance of Christ, to God, not to people. Just like Watchman Nee wrote, our question must be “Has the Lord been satisfied?” And I also thank the Lord, as He granted me a blessed season of imprisonment rather than being used by Him.
Do you like to minister to God? Though it seems a waste of your time, your resources and so on, do you like to pour out all that you have and all that you are unto Him? I looked up the verses on Martha and Mary, after I read the book, The Normal Christian Life. I think Mary was able to break the alabaster jar of the costly oil, as she chose to look upon Jesus at His feet:
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41~42)
We may seem to go against the grain, even to Christians, if we would choose to waste for God. Some Christian friends may say, “Why don’t you study in seminary?” or “Why don’t you go to a big ministry?” or “ Why don’t you publish your book?” just like Watchman Nee said to the sister. Also, like he said, I’m not saying we should close our eyes to the needs of others. But I’m trying to say that many of us think and act like Martha. And we tend to think God needs our help. Never! He can do anything without our help, if He wants to. He is Almighty God. He wants us to minister to Him and love Him with all our hearts. He has His own desire! If you are a parent of a little baby, you would never think it a waste of your time to tickle your baby’s little toes and kiss the little feet. If you’re in love with someone, you would simply enjoy sitting next to him or her, even without a word. But, you would never think it’s a waste of your time. Friend, what would you choose? For me, I choose to waste everything for God and let Him be satisfied.
Have a bliss!
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.