Hi name is Randy. I’m a father of a teenage daughter. And with that comes all the fun that comes with experiencing new things with them! And it also comes with all the not so fun. For example, the “getting ready for school and no clothes to wear – world coming to an end” disaster!
Yea, you know what I’m talking about! This happens on a regular basis. I’m starting to get used to it. Not sure that’s a good thing or not!
Somedays I do this “father of a teenage daughter” thing pretty well. I seem to have it all figured out. I’m able to get her laughing and goofing around. Love to see her smile. Other days I struggle.
The key word is STRUGGLE.
I do not do so well with being patient. Grace? What’s grace? And I have to show it? Understanding…really? There is no understanding what I just witnessed let alone understand a word she said through the emotional eruption that just took place. I mean, what rational man can understand the mutterings between sobs and tears.
I’m so glad Nicky does.
But then there are days that I fail miserably. I blow up at the irrational and emotional. Not because of her, but because I don’t take the time to understand – like the time she was all worried about how she smelled. Did you catch the “I” there? Um…that would be me having the problem…not her. Just pointing that out there as it is usually me and a course correction God wants to make within me.
Anyway…Jay wanted to put perfume on when we were all ready to run out the door. We were already running late. And here she is, in tears, because she forgot to spray down in perfume. Let me set the scene for you the best I can. It’s cold. There’s six inches or more of snow on the ground. There is at least a 20 mile per hour wind.
Did I mention it was cold?
So to leave the house for any reason whatsoever, it requires at least a minimum of 30 minutes of garbing everyone up. We’ve got gloves, coats, hats, scarves and boots. So it’s a ten minute exercise in patience (for me) for her to get all that off so she can go to her room, spray down, and get it all back on.
Insert verbal explosion here.
Words flew! Arms flailed! Voices raised! And more tears flowed. It was not one of my brighter moments in fatherhood. What was worse – we were going two different directions that day. There was no opportunity to right the wrong. She was going to school and I was heading to the office. The fragrance of the air between us really stunk…at no fault of her own.
Today I was reading in John where Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with some really expensive perfume. The cross looms in the shadows, drawing ever so close to Jesus. His time was short. And Mary makes the most of this opportunity she has with him. It reminded me of this time with Jalynn. John writes,
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 NASB
Mary makes the most of this opportunity. Those words cut. Clearly I hadn’t made the most of the opportunity with Jalynn. It’s really marvelous, but more so humbling, when the Holy Spirit recalls to memory events of past that you failed to learn from. But thankfully, He is patient to slow learners like myself.
And so…I’m learning it today through Mary’s extravagant show of love. In this single moment, she gave me (and you as well) a sort of progression of actions and attitudes that resulted in a fragrance filling the room. And I believe it deserves some attention.
Mary’s perfume was genuine
Have you ever been guilty of saying one thing, but meant something else? I present for evidence exhibit A. Randy L. Diller, Jr. Here is a man that has been passively aggressive – that is – he will say what is needed to avoid direct confrontation, but inside there is very much an active resistance and attitude contrary to the words that were spoken. The body language can be easily read. There is no fooling the judge and jury.
I am so guilty of this. I’ll be frustrated with one of the girls, or my wife. And it’s absolutely no fault of their own. It is usually my own selfishness. The core of my being, like Dr Manley has been talking about this week during The Gathering, ebbs closer to me and further from Jesus. Being like this never ends well. It’s evil really. It’s nowhere close to being truth.
Or how about when someone asks “How do I look?” Everything in you wants to say, “Um…Well…You might want to rethink that wardrobe decision!” but instead you say “Oh, you look great!” This NEVER GOES WELL when it’s your wife. There is no recourse but to say “You’re just as beautiful as the day I married you!”
But seriously…we don’t say what we really want to and don’t mean what we actually say. We deliberately disguise words and they don’t back up our actions. It is such an embarrassing state of confusion! Kids and teenagers can see right through us when we are not genuine and real with them. We try to fool them, fake them out. But they know better. Especially our own kids!
There is a unique word used in John’s gospel that describes the perfume. It’s the word ‘pure’. Drill down into the word and it means to be genuine. The perfume was genuine. The Bible doesn’t say, but I think it safe to postulate that Mary’s action itself was genuine. Mary’s love was genuine. Her sacrifice was genuine. There were no other motives, no selfishness…just adoration for Jesus.
Our words and actions ought to be genuine whether it is with Jesus, our kids, or our spouse. Matthew records Jesus teaching,
“Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 CEB
This passage found in the Sermon on the Mount has Jesus talking about oaths. I believe that more than just oaths, the point is being truthful – our words match our inward attitude and outward actions. This doesn’t mean our tongue has free reign at all. What it does mean, however, is that our words and actions are congruent, they are genuine, because they are in harmony with each other.
Genuine. Not only was the perfume genuine, but so was Mary, as she humbled herself.
Mary humbled herself
And that’s the next point I picked up on. Being humble. To be humble means to be low or modest, to be submissive and respectful. Even more than those words, the word prideless (is that even a word?) for me best describes being humble. There was no pride in Mary at all. Think about what she did here! She took something so valuable, offered it to her Savior, and then proceeded to wipe His feet with her hair. She humbled herself in this act of worship.
We need to think about something here. Hygiene in Jesus’ day was not what it is today for sure! Feet were dirty, sweaty, and smelled. And here she is, in an act of worship, humbles herself and serves Jesus with everything she has, both inwardly and outwardly. There is no pride, no desire to be right, no need to feel important. She just serves Him.
Do we do that with Jesus? Do we do that with others? Do we humble ourselves in service to Jesus to serve others in love, especially those closest to us in a way that brings Him the glory? I mean, if it’s not for His glory, then who’s glory is it for?
Um…correct answer would be the selfish us. You and I. Our own glory. And that really looks ugly.
I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy serving when it doesn’t cost. Am I right? It’s when it costs us that we push back. This cost Mary not only the perfume, but it was a job that is…well…just sort of gross. I mean, I don’t think I would want to wash feet with my hair. (If I had enough hair to wash feet with).
Listen, I can’t say that I get it right all the time! There are moments I am selfish. There are moments I let pride slip in. They are becoming fewer as I grow and mature, but that does not mean I won’t be tempted again! Each time I respond obediently in humility, however, I get stronger, more genuine, more humble, and less prideful.
Think about this – every day we have opportunity to humble ourselves and be genuine. Many times we respond obediently to the Holy Spirit. But there are times we don’t. We respond poorly. A wrong choice of words, even when we are in the right, are spoken out of pride and we damage relationships, both earthly and heavenly. Pride is an ugly thing that does nothing good at all…so let’s choose humility…the better way to respond!
The fragrance filled the house
The end result of Mary being genuine and humble is that the fragrance of her offering filled the house.
“…and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Her humility and offering of the genuine perfume left an aroma that filled the house. I don’t know about you, but I just feel good when I walk into my house and there is a good smelling aroma. Whether it is the smell of a fresh baked apple pie or the cinnamon scented oils that Nicky has around the house, it’s simply a comforting aroma that sticks to you. And you sort of carry it with you as you leave.
There were times when I was working in the snack food industry that I would come home smelling like a rotten tortilla chip. Literally! And the smell would just stick to me. And I would carry it around with me.
That’s how it is in our lives. When we interact with each other in our daily coming and going, we have the choice to be genuine and humble, which leaves the room filled with fragrance (Christ), or we leave it smelling…well…not so fragrant.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we impact the world around us, for good, or for evil. There really isn’t any neutral here. Sounds a little harsh? Maybe…But that doesn’t change the truth of it. I want the aroma that I leave around to be one that is fragrant and Christlike. When I enter a place of business, someone else’s home, a hospital, or my own home, my desire is that Christ becomes the fragrance that fills that space. Anything else less than that just doesn’t smell good and leaves those we interact with confused because what we say about Jesus is not congruent with our words and actions.
And that’s what I experienced with Jalynn. Here I am, the spiritual leader of the home, struggling to show her the kind of man I want her to find and one day marry. My words were not congruent with my actions. My yes’s and no’s were not in agreement. And so we parted that day with a really bad aroma between us. As the day continued, I grew more and more ashamed over my response. It was filled with pride. There was nothing genuine about it. It flowed from being selfish instead of being selfless. It flowed from me and not from Jesus.
I want others (especially my wife and daughters) to have the fragrance of Christ filling their lives when I am with them and going with them when we part ways. But to do that, it cannot flow from any other place than the relationship, the merger as Dr Manley puts it, with Jesus. That merger must continually put me to death and life to Jesus. Now that will fill a space with fragrance!
You know what’s interesting? After Jalynn sprayed herself down and I dropped her off, her fragrance stayed in the vehicle. And not only was it in the vehicle, it was with me the whole day. It drove me nuts! It was like a persistent thorn that you just can’t seem to forget, driving you nuts until you get relief from it when it’s removed. The day would not end soon enough so that I could clear the air between us and make things right. More than anything I wanted her to know that a real man of God can admit when he’s wrong, humble himself, and ask forgiveness.
And that, my friends, put a wonderful fragrance in the air that filled the rest of the day and made it beautiful.