a reason to dance

He was dancing with reckless abandon at the side of the road. Windows down, I knew the music he danced to was alone in his soul. There was no radio, no band, no background song… just the beat of his hand against the sign tucked under his arm.  The dance could only be described as part hip hop, part Native American Tribal dance. From one foot to the other he hopped in rhythm, head bent toward the earth, free arm dancing up and down in front of him.  As he turned to make his hopping, rhythmic way back toward our car I couldn’t help but see the look of sheer exhilaration on his face. Joy unspeakable. He danced not as though no one was watching… He danced in the full knowledge that every eye peering from every windshield at that intersection were firmly on him.

Yet this man was not put on that street corner to dance.  The sign he had tucked beneath his arm announced a “store liquidation sale” and “close-out prices”… This young man was dancing before a store that was going out of business.  He had been hired to stand out in front of a store, waving a sign around to garner passer-by’s attention and curiosity.

But the sign had become secondary to the dance. It was sideways and partially obstructed by the hand that maintained the rhythm for the dance.  He was not waving it in the air, or pointing to the store, or calling to passing by cars… he was just dancing.

And because of that I took notice. Because of his abandoned joy I made a point to read the sign, to try to discern what brought him to that grassy patch at the side of the road. My curiosity was piqued, not by someone yelling into my open window as I drove by, but by someone caught up in the joy of the dance.

My heart dropped a bit as the light changed from red to green. Our moment in his audience had come to an end. As we drove by, he broke from the rhythm long enough to greet us with an enormous wave- you know, the kind that causes your entire body to shift back and forth with its force. Looking me in the eye he smiled from the depth of who he was. He was having so much fun on his grassy stage under the open sky

I thought about his dance as I made my way onto the exit ramp, the smile still crawling across my face. And then all at once it hit me…

This moment of God revealing His heart in the world around us.  Another opportunity to experience His grace in the every day.

This man who danced with such gusto and fervor… had completely forgotten about the work he had been called to that grassy corner to do. Cockeyed sign beneath his arm, obstructed by his dancing body and beating hand... forgotten by the dancer... yet noticed by me. 

How many times have I passed by someone holding the same yellow and red store liquidation sign, and took no notice at all? Dozens and dozens, I am sure. Yet this one who, in fairness, was not doing the thing he had been hired to do particularly well... got my attention.  

The rules looked like standing in front of a store, prominently holding a sign and calling out to cars that drove by. 

Instead he chose to dance. 

And I noticed.

As I thought about his exuberance, his reckless abandon... God brought to mind David's undignified dance before the Ark of the Covenant. His reckless love for God, and how the joy of His presence caused David to lose Himself in worship of the One who He knew to be worthy.  Scripture tells us that he "danced before the Lord with all his might"... dancing before the Lord with all he had! Worshiping with his everything! Like this man on his grassy stage, he gave himself completely over to the joy of the moment. 

How do you live your life before God? 

Have you become so absorbed by the work of holding the "I am a Christian" sign that you have lost the joy of the dance?

I think about that man, hired to hold a sign... yet his JOY was so much more effective in drawing my attention to the great sale going on a parking lot behind him. I think about David, dancing with absolute abandon before the Lord, forgetting the protocol of his kingship in the light of the glory of the King. 

It's not about the work (although He certainly calls us to good works). It's not about doing the right things (although the right things are good). It's about celebrating our God extravagantly!!! It's about dancing before Him with all our might! It's about loving Him with a sold out heart! 

Then those who are around you, those on-lookers who glance toward your grassy stage from the front seats of their cars... will see the JOY you find in the Lord! And seeing your joy, they will come to participate in it, just as that smile spread across my own face. 

Had that man been standing there holding his bright yellow sign toward the sky for all to see, I would not be thinking about him today

People aren't impressed by your "I am a Christian" sign, folks. They are impressed by your joy! By your exuberance in serving! By your abandoned heart! Our "I am a Christian" signs will get the attention of a few, certainly... but our JOY will get the attention of everyone! Without trying, the tribal-hip hop dancer pointed to the store that was advertising a sale. His exuberance got my attention, and then my curiosity led me to search for the sign and uncover the reason for his being there. 

Our lives should look like that! Our lives should point to Christ, to His love, to His grace, whether we are trying to or not. Our ravished hearts should draw the attention of the world, and make them curious.

However, be forewarned friend, that some will not be curious. Some will be furious... as David danced before the Lord, his wife Michal watched from a window, disgusted that he would ignore the proper behavior expected of a king. That's not the way it's supposed to look. That's not the way a proper person acts. That's not the way we have always done it... Don't be discouraged by the naysayers. Respond as David did when he answered "I will celebrate before the Lord! I will become even more undignified than this...!"

We are called to live our lives before the Lord! Dancing our hearts out for an Audience of One! The truth is, some will be offended by your joy... but they are not the ones you live for.  I am sure there were people in cars around me that grumbled about the man dancing to and fro with a sign tucked beneath his arm. But for me, for my daughter... we were inspired to live our lives with joy. And that's worth it. That's worth the price of the dance!!!

I have no idea what reason that man last weekend had for dancing. Maybe he was just full of joy and couldn't help himself. Maybe he was goofing off. Maybe he was bored with his job and he was trying to get fired. Maybe he succeeded...

What I do know is this... we have a reason to dance! 

We have a King whom we can call friend, a God whom we can call Daddy, a Spirit whom we can call comforter.

We have a reason to dance!  

We have FREEDOM in Christ Jesus, forgiveness, joy, peace, love!

We have a reason to dance! 

We have a HOME in HEAVEN, a hope and a future, redeemed souls and sanctified lives!

We have a reason to dance!

I'm not telling you to forget the work. I'm telling you to stick your "I am a Christian" sign under your arm and try using it as an instrument to keep the rhythm for your dancing feet... and worship the King. Not with just a little bit of you... but like David, with everything you have! 

I don't know what David's dance looked like exactly, but somehow, I think it looked a lot like the abandoned, joy-filled man of the man at the side of the road. A tribal mix of dance steps and rhythm... an open heart and abandoned love for his God. David's work was to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to the city, but he got lost in his worship... and guess what... the Ark still made it to Jerusalem.

Let's be a people that are so caught up in the worship of our Savior, that the work just flows from us. That like the man at the side of the road, who inadvertently drew my attention to the store behind him, we would draw attention to Jesus through our joyful worship of Him!! 

I promise, you will point to the King with your joyful life so much more effectively than you ever could holding a stoic sign. People will notice your exuberance... your joy, your passion, your love... and their curiosity will drawn them in! And in the meantime, you will be having so much fun dancing on your grassy stage under the open sky....!!!!

Serving God is not drudgery! It is not work! It is the greatest joy we will ever know this side of heaven! It flows from a thankful heart and a sold out life! If the knowledge of Christ's love for you doesn't cause you to get to your feet and move to the rhythm of His heartbeat, I don't know what will... We have a reason to dance! We have a reason for joy! We have a reason to leap from foot to foot, head bowed toward the earth and hand pointing toward the sky! So what do you say, my friend?

...shall we dance?

this has become one of mine and Tali's favorite songs... if you need a dancing rhythm, hit play and get moving!


dreaming God-sized dreams...

Why does God’s faithfulness surprise me? He says He is going to be faithful, and I know He is a God that does not lie. He has always been faithful, and I know that He is a God that does not change. Even when I am unfaithful, He remains faithful to His promises, to His Word.

Yet I sit tonight, in amazement at His perfect faithfulness. In the way that He orders steps, and clears paths, and makes the high places low so that we can walk confidently in what He has called us to do.

I pray that I never lose this sense of awe. The wonder of His goodness.

About a year ago, God birthed a dream in my heart for a women’s conference… and He quickly showed me that He had birthed that same dream in other’s hearts.  What started as an excited conversation full of God-sized visions in a little bookstore with a beautiful friend (and mighty woman of God)… is now the Lightbearers Women’sConference. It is around the corner, just twenty five days away (but who’s counting?)… this dream… this thing that seemed too big for someone like me

It’s really going to happen. And that still blows my mind.

It shouldn’t. God says over and over again in His word “I will make a way” and He has revealed that to me more and more lately as I have studied scripture.  In Isaiah 42:16 He says “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them”.

We entered this thing that has become Lightbearers blind.   I certainly hadn’t done anything quite like this before! I can barely organize a small gathering of friends at my house [as my friends, they will tell you this is absolutely true, and rarely happens as a result]… much less hundreds of women together in one building, arranging travel plans and plane tickets for a speaker, making sure there is a means to have sound and lights and video at the venue, school board meetings for approval to use their facilities… it was all so daunting.

But God called, and I am so, so, so thankful that we answered! That He has brought together one of the most precious group of women I could imagine to organize and plan and see to details. To ask for door prizes. To mail tickets. To talk to their churches. To hand out registrations. To contact speakers. To write letters. To make decisions. To brainstorm. To deliver letters. To pray… and pray… and pray…

And before us, the unfamiliar path opened up. The rough places (like how in the world do you organize hundreds of women into break-out sessions and a lunch rotation so they all get the sessions of their choice…? Really God!? It seems impossible!)… became smooth (it really just fell into place in a way only GOD could orchestrate!). The darkness turned to light, before our very eyes! He guided us, blind as we were, into His will.

God made a way.

Isaiah 45:1 promises us that He is a God who opens doors before men so that gates will not be shut.

God opened doors.

Proverbs 3:6 says if we trust Him, He will make our paths straight.

God straightened the path.

Isaiah 43:20 tells us that He will provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

God provided for every need.  

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that His strength is more evident in our weakness.

God made a way. Where we could not, He did.

We could not, in our own strength or wisdom or power or understanding have caused things to come together as neatly as our infinite Father has done… We were blind.  I don’t say this to brag on anything we have done… I say this to brag on God! And to encourage you!

What is your God-sized dream? The thing that He has called you to do. The thing that seems too big for someone like you. Or too impossible, even for a BIG God. Or too hard. Or too farfetched. Or too scary…

He WILL make a way.

I wish I had room to tell you all of the little details He has worked out. [I guess you’ll just have to come to the conference to experience them… ;)] And while I know the weekend itself is going to be so, so, so good… because He is so, so, so faithful… If He didn’t do another thing for Lightbearers I would still be overwhelmed.

He will open doors that no man can open, and shut doors that no man can shut. He will make a way.

When you look at the thing He’s called you to, do not fear the obstacles that appear on the pathway… because He is able to make the rough places smooth. He will make a way.  

When He gives you instructions that don’t seem to make sense, like offering a free conference that you will take up an offering for and then give all that money away too- when there are people that will need to be paid and food that will need to be bought- He will provide.  


I recently shared some other God-sized dreams with someone I love a lot. I was sharing my heart, my this-doesn’t-make-any-sense-but-God-keeps-confirming-them-dreams, my fears…

Her response was straightforward (one of the reasons I love her so much)…

If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.

And she is right.

That doesn’t make them any less scary… it just means you are trusting God more as you step into them.  

I haven’t taken that next step… yet… but rest assured that as I do, I am remembering the way He has provided for Lightbearers.  The way He has opened doors. And shut others. The way He has provided. The way He has made the rough places smooth.  

I am remembering that He is a God who does not change, and that He will do the same for the next chapter of my life. I am remembering that he is a God who is faithful, and that He will continue to be so.

I am praying that you remember this as well. That you dream the kind of dreams only God can fulfill, and then trust Him to bring them to light. He will make a way, friend. Whether that dream is seeing your husband walking with Jesus. Or holding a Bible Study in your home. Or building a vocational center and home in Ghana. Or hosting a women’s conference.  Or ministering to the lost. Or starting a new program in your church. Or feeding the hungry. Or revealing Christ to your children. Dream the dream, and then trust the God that planted that dream in your heart. He will make a way.

And when He does, you will sit in amazement… in wonder… at His faithfulness.  You will point to Him and with a shout of victory proclaim “ONLY GOD!!!”

I am sooooo looking forward to April 13th! [I may even be counting the days]... Because when you step out in faith, doing something only HE can accomplish, there is no glory left over for yourself. It all goes to Him! I know the women who have helped with this would agree, only God could have accomplished what He has accomplished in the last few months. We were blind, and He led us along an unfamiliar path. We saw obstacles, and He made the rough places smooth.  We didn’t know the way, and He turned the darkness into light.

He is a faithful God who will finish that which He has set forth to accomplish. He has good plans for the Lightbearers Women’s Conference… He has plans for changed hearts, for changed homes, for changed communities, and for a changed world.  And as we watch those plans unfold, we will together, with united hearts proclaim in victory “ONLY GOD!!!”…

And I can’t wait!!!!!

He wants to do that in your life too. I’d love to hear about your God-sized dreams. I’d love to know what vision He has planted in your heart, to join you in prayer and to rejoice with you as we proclaim in victory “ONLY GOD!!!”   If you’d like leave a comment… or drop me a private message. It would be an honor to join you in dreaming big!

Oh, and if you haven’t registered for the Lightbearers Women’sConference (or told your wife, or mom, or daughter, or friend about it…) what are you waiting for? It’s still free. There are a few childcare slots still available (also free). There are awesome door prizes to be given away. Lunch is provided (also free). Amazing speakers, heartfelt teachers, a powerful worship leader… Seriously, you don’t want to miss it! Soooo, why don’t you just click here and register right now. And I’ll see you at the conference!


now that you have seen...

Few song lyrics have infiltrated my soul in the way that Brooke Fraser's "Albertine" has... the words of the chorus ring in my heart... "Now that I have seen, I am responsible..." 

Click. Listen. Be challenged.

Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Now that I know of the pain of a child, the hurt of a woman, the loneliness of a senior, the cold of the homeless.... Now that I have seen, I am responsible.

As I type this, there is a video that has gone beyond viral... it's become a pandemic. A pandemic of awareness and knowledge, opening the eyes of those blinded by the comfort of the American dream to atrocities occurring a world away.  As of this moment, 52,591,704 of you have clicked, likely on a facebook post, and watched the "Kony 2012" video on YouTube. [If you have not seen it, you can find it here.]

52,591,704 of you have seen. 52,591,704 of you are responsible. 

Children are being forced into slavery... and it is not okay to turn a blind eye. It is not okay to pretend we haven't seen. It is not enough to click "share" beneath a video link and hope that the next person will do something.

Now that you have seen, you are responsible. It's up to you to do something.

As I type, the anguish of these children is welling up with in me. Tears streaming down my cheeks as the faces of the enslaved flash before my eyes. I have seen them. I have seen the pictures of enslaved children, the vacancy in their eyes. Vacancy where hope once resided.

Kony is a terrible man. A horror. But he is not the only one.  Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda... these are not the only places darkened by the cloud of human trafficking... It is happening everywhere, even here in quiet Indiana [the I70 corridor is a known pipeline for traffickers. believe it].  It's happening on a Lake in Ghana.

I have seen their faces. I am responsible. 52 million of you have seen. You are responsible.

Children as young as 4 are sold into slavery
in Ghana for as little as $20. Their families think
that they will be fed, cared for, and educated.
Instead they are forced to work 14-16 hr
days, abused, and neglected.
I think about a conversation I had with my daughter and some friends last August. Telling them about friends going to Africa to rescue children from slavery... the look of horror on those little girls faces as they said "slavery still exists???". I imagine that same look of horror darkening faces of millions of Americans as they sat in shock watching the Kony 2012 video. Not only does it still exist, there are more people enslaved today than there were when Abraham Lincoln fought to abolish it.

Little girls who saw... and within their souls knew that they had become responsible. They had to do something. They started Kidz 4 Freedom ... and have since raised about $2000 toward the cause of ending slavery in Ghana. If two little girls can do that with duct tape... what more can YOU do? What more can WE do, banded together, hearts toward the cause of ending this horror!? 

It is not good enough to watch the video and be moved. It is not good enough to share the video. You have to do something. As Kidz 4 Freedom would say... Refuse to do nothing. Refuse to be the person who wipes the tears from her cheeks, and then goes on to giggle at a funny picture on Facebook, or update her status about dinner plans later that night. Refuse to be the person who lives in the very lap of luxury and so quickly forgets the desperate look of a child forced to fight as a child soldier, or work as a sex slave, or dive into the murky depths of a man-made lake to free nets beneath a boat. Refuse to be the person who hopes and prays that someone else will do something.

The next line of Brooke Fraser's song says.. "Faith without deeds is dead". Church, we have to do something.

I am so thankful for the makers of the Kony 2012 video... for the way they have used their gifts in filmmaking to raise awareness of these atrocities! But I want you to know that Invisible Children is NOT the only organization helping free children. In fact, some of my best friends have had their hearts turned toward this cause and are actively working toward caring for former slaves from their homes right here in Southern Indiana.

There are an estimated 7,000 children enslaved on Lake Volta
today. It costs less than $100 to buy a child back out of
slavery, but there is no where for the children to go. They
can't go back to families, that may sell them again... schools
are desperately needed so more children can be freed.
These women have walked the shores of Lake Volta... looking out on the children trapped there by poverty and slave masters who beat them with oars if they disobey. My friends have visited the schools that house these children. They have seen with their own eyes the good work being done there by Touch a Life Foundation.  They came back to the States forever changed. A passion in their hearts to do something, to do more. They partnered with Touch a Life Foundation [For the record, we did some research and found that only 13% of Touch a Life's funds are set aside for administrative costs, the rest go to direct programming. This is exceptional in the world of not-for-profits!], starting a "Find Your Mark" chapter which raises funds to support children who have been freed from slavery.

William and the woman he calls "Mom"... my friend Christy

Yet my friends were not satisfied with supporting a few children. Looking out on the Lake, they know the need. They have heard the desperation of child workers there who say "There are so many more children... but no where to take them". Children that must be left out on the lake, because there is no place to care for them. To teach them. To house them.

And so, friends... it's up to us. Now that we have seen, we are responsible.

We will be joining my friends Christy & Stephanie at Matthew 25 Ministries in building a vocational center in Ghana that will house and educate former child slaves. Children who right now are working up to 16 hours a day, fed one meal, denied an education. In this moment, they sit on a lonely lake, wondering if they have been forgotten by the world.

Don't be the one that forgets.

Since she returned from Ghana in October, Christy has worked tirelessly to get partners to join with her to support William, a Touch a Life Kid she met while in Ghana. A few have come along with her (this is where Kidz 4 Freedom money goes), but how many more Williams could be helped if each of you reading this now would commit to sending Matthew 25 Ministries $10 a month? I know how many of you read... I know how many of you are responsible... and I know the faces of the children that can walk in FREEDOM if you would commit even at this level!

But, what if you committed to $100 a month? A little more than $3 a day. A Starbucks sacrifice... that would result in a children being offered a hope and a future. What if you had a fundraiser, and offered a one time gift of $1000... or more. What if you share this challenge with your Facebook friends? Include them in the call to save the lost and free the captives!? Think about the mark that we can leave on the face of eternity. Children lost... now found.

It costs $1800 a year to fully support a former child slave in Ghana. That's school, clothes, food, therapy, training. $1800. The average American family spends about that much on Christmas. [Stop. Think about that.]

Now that you have seen, you are responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.

How many of your friends would it take, committing to a monthly giving program, to raise $1800 a year to support a child in a far off country? Ten friends, willing to give $15 a month... would support a child, a real child, for a year. Will you step up to the challenge?

What will you do?

There are countless organizations out there doing this same kind of work. Invisible Children, the force behind the Kony 2012 video, receives millions of dollars in donations a year. Their mission is three fold, movie making, movement, and mission- which means that 32% of the funds given to them go to direct programming... goes to freeing children. This is not a criticism of this organization at all. I am so thankful for the powerful work their movie making (which is supported by another third of the funds donated) has done to raise awareness. The final third of donations goes to cover overhead costs including salaries, advertisement, websites, accountants, etc which are necessary to sustain the movement. If you are led to give to Invisible Children, do it. If you click "see more" beneath the YouTube video, there is a direct link for donations.

But if you are led to give to people who saw with their own eyes, and felt the seed of responsibility growing within them... look into Matthew 25 Ministries (website coming soon). It is a young organization, with God-sized dreams. And we need your help. You can earmark funds to go to  Find Your Mark, which is sent to Touch a Life to support William, and if enough funds are garnered, other children.   Or if you are interested in building a place so that even more children can be brought home from the Lake, earmark your funds for the Micah 6:8 project. This is an enormous undertaking, and your help is desperately needed. If you are interested in acts of social justice here within the States, Matthew 25 also does regular outreaches in local prisons, homeless shelters, etc and your funds can go to support these causes as well. They are also prayerfully considering how to impact human trafficking that happens outside our own front doors, with a project coming soon to address this need as well. This is an inter-denominational organization, seeking to unite the Body of Christ and meet the needs of His children, locally, nationally, and world-wide.

There are a lot of child sponsorship organizations.  Many of them are extraordinary in the care they provide for children and communities. But my friend got to talk to William last night. She spoke with him, heard his voice! I know that the money that Tali and Grace raise with their duct tape projects is going to a real child, walking in real freedom. I know that he is being cared for physically and emotionally. And that is so important to me.

A few days ago I blogged about Mary Magdalene, how she found freedom in Christ, and out of that abundance of freedom came an abundance of love and devotion. Friends, do not take the freedom you walk in for granted... use it to bring freedom for others. Don't let your love of Christ be one of words, but one of action. One of being His hands and feet. One of sacrifice. One of going wherever He leads. Scripture reminds us that of whom much is given, much is required. We have been given much. So much more than we could ever possibly need. We have new iPads while others have no food. Extra bedrooms while others have no home. The finest of clothes while others sit in a boat in underwear. We have been given much, friends, do not ignore the fact that  much is required. Now that you have seen, you are responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.

Won't you join Matthew 25 Ministries? Won't you help them in their dream of building a vocational center in Ghana to house other Williams. To make a place for kids who are trapped on a lonely Lake? Won't you get with your Bible Study group, and covenant together to raise $1800 a year to support one of William's friends? Won't you donate toward their mission trip to Appalachia in June?  Won't you make blankets for them to take to the homeless next winter? Won't you share this challenge with your friends?

Won't you do something?

Find out how you can help by emailing Christy and Stephanie at matthewtwentyfiveministries@gmail.com.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-Emily Dickenson


held in the shadow of the cross...

My thoughts turn again and again toward Mary Magdalene. Her story inspires me to more. It challenges my walk with Christ. For weeks I have found my mind returning to an image of her standing in the shadow of the cross, watching as her Savior, her friend, her teacher… died. What brought her there? What held her there?

Oh, to have a heart that devoted. That willing. That unashamed.  Dig a deep well in me Lord… like the well that fed the spirit of Mary Magdalene. Yes, that’s what I desire…

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8:1-3

After this… After what?  After what event does Luke introduce these women, this Mary, to us for the first time?  What significance is there that he would start this passage by connecting one moment in Christ’s ministry to another…

After this… After a woman, uninvited, enters a Pharisee’s home.  She carries on her shoulders the weight of sin and shame. She carries in her hands an alabaster jar filled with a fragrant offering. What must it have been like to walk into this house. The weighty glances of judgment from ones who knew her story.  Backs stiffening around the room, uncomfortable with her very presence. Yet she was drawn. She was drawn by the One who was worth the risk.

Can you see her? Walking into the room… the feelings of unworthiness so heavy that she sinks behind the worthy One, falling to her knees, overwhelmed in His presence… tears pouring from her body, from the depth of her soul… a well so deep that she is able to wash His feet in her sorrow.  Sitting so near the Holy One, her own sin and shame wells up from within, pouring out onto Him... and with it love. Love as she kisses his feet, again and again… love that causes her to bow before Him, washing His feet with her hair… love that pours forth with perfume from an alabaster jar.

Jesus’s words teach, chastise, forgive… “I tell you, her sins-and they are many-have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

After this lesson in forgiveness and love, Jesus is found traveling from town to town, teaching the Good News… bringing with Him the Kingdom and the Truth. He brought with Him the twelve, His inner circle, His trusted companions and students… but also these women. This Mary, and Joanna, and Susanna along with many others. Women who He had healed. Delivered. Women free from the bondage of sin, infirmity, the enemy.  Mary Magdalene, it says, was freed from seven demons.  Through Christ, she had been freed of much.

And like the sinful woman, with the alabaster jar, her response was to love much.  To follow Him. Learn from Him. Support Him. To pour out her life at Jesus’ feet.

A devotion that led her into the shadow of the cross.  

When all but one disciple had succumbed to fear of man, she stood.  One who is forgiven much, loves much…

photo credit
Yet today, as my thoughts turned once again to the women who gathered at the cross, and especially the one who tasted freedom and never forgot how sweet the gift... I wondered about the others. The countless others whom Jesus had forgiven, delivered, healed... I wonder if they were amongst the on-lookers. Did the sinful woman blended in to faceless crowd, looking upon the feet she had kissed now nailed to a cross.  Or the woman caught in adultery, was she there in the shadow of His sacrifice? Joanna and Susanna who traveled with Mary, did they stay the course? Did they count the cost and find Christ worthy? Were they there to hear His cries of pain and loneliness and despair? 

Joanna was there later, at the tomb. Yes, among those nameless faces in the crowd... can't you picture these ones who found freedom and were willing to follow it wherever it led? Even to the foot of a shameful cross?

Yet some were not there. Eleven disciples have fled. One denying Christ with a garden kiss. Another fleeing at the moment of His arrest. Another walks in shame after denying his Friend not once, but three times.  Only one remains. One standing alongside the one called Magdalene. One for whom Christ's love had become his identity...

Jesus healed many. Ministered to many. Delivered many. Forgave many.  Yet there were few standing in the shadow of the sacrifice.  Such beautiful devotion.

A devotion that ran so deep that on the third day, despite guards at the tomb door and the threat of persecution for followers of Jesus... Mary gathered together spices and perfumes and she went to prepare His body. Like the woman with the alabaster jar, she walked to the tomb... hands full of the only thing she had left to offer this One who was worthy. Her final act of love, humility, adoration. How her heart must have ached with grief. This, this is not how it was supposed to end...

But she did not find a body. She found Jesus. This her reward for her devotion and courage. Have you considered the courage it would have taken these women to go to the tomb of Christ? How the guards could have responded to them. How they could have refused them entry. Or arrested them as followers. Or abused them. We know the end of the story, and so we lose in some way the courage it would have taken to walk that way. The depth of love that would have emboldened Mary and her friends to this path. She couldn't have known she would meet a risen Savior that day. That her reward would be eternal... the first to see the Lord, to cling to Him, to share the news of His resurrection...

The one who first met Jesus in a moment of freedom, with darkness fleeing her body... met Him again in a moment of freedom, with darkness defeated in this world. 

I look at my life. I look at the place that Jesus found me. That dirty road, that burden of sin, that sentence of shame... He freed me. He frees me. Yet how devoted is my heart? Today as I think about this one, so ravished by the One who was worthy that she would follow Him... follow Him to the cross... follow Him to the tomb. When so many others had fled, when those He counted closest to Him had denied Him... the one called Magdalene remained. 

And her reward was Jesus. She gave up everything to follow Him, to support Him and care for His needs. She risked everything to stand with His mother at the cross, to walk with her to the guarded tomb. And her reward was Jesus.

Her life lived ever mindful of the freedom she had found in Christ. Thankful living. Sold out living. A life lived out of the overflow of grace He had poured upon her. One who is forgiven much, loves much…Mary Magdalene lived a life bathed in the love and grace of Christ. She knew that she had been forgiven much. She knew that she had been freed much. She knew that she had been loved much. And she allowed this grace to dig a deep, deep well of love and adoration in her soul. A well so deep that she could draw upon it to stand in the shadow of her friend's death. That she could face persecution as she carried one last sacrifice toward a cold tomb. 

What have you been forgiven, my friend? How deeply has our Savior loved you? From what demons have you been freed? How rich the grace poured out over your life, so that you may stand before our God, blameless, without spot? 

How deep is your life of thanksgiving? How deep your well of adoration? Deep enough that when all around you fail... you will still stand? Deep enough to follow our Savior to the cross? Deep enough to hold you there in its shadow? Deep enough to follow Him wherever He leads... even to the tomb? 

One who is forgiven much, loves much…

How deep is the well of your love today? 

Dig a deep well, in me Father... Dig a deep well like that which fed the faith of Mary Magdalene... deeper Father... deeper still...